The TOP 7 Tips for Starting Your Own Business

The idea of starting your own business seems attractive at first. You begin the process of thinking, pondering, asking questions, note taking, lining ducks, investigating ideas, and convincing your friends. You spend weeks putting everything together, and then you get busy.

You put your business ideas on hold because….. Well because you are busy! Everyone should understand how busy you really are!!

Really tackle the why. Why do you want to own your own business? Is it because you do not want to work for someone else? Is it because you want to make a difference? Is it because it seems like a good idea? Is it because you want to do whatever you want, whenever you want to do it?  This is the part of the process that I warn you about the time and commitment you would need to invest to make your new business a success.

Where is this business going to take place? In a retail store? In an office? In your living room? On the internet? It is critical to know what direction you are going to go with the business; even more, look ahead and also figure out where you would want to be in 2 years.

SIDE TIP: Get clients first. If you have clients lined up, it’s easier to justify the start of a new business and answer the Why.

With Who?
Who are you doing business with? Identify your partners. Identify your vendors. Identify your clients and shoppers. Identify your industry. Identify everyone who might have even a .01% chance to interact with your business. The more you identify now, the easier the plan becomes. Don’t do it alone.

Double Employment.
Some people will argue this point.  (They are the ones who have investors and financial backing to start a new business)  Start your business while you are still employed. It might takes a few months, a few few months, or a few years until your business actually makes a profit. Maintaining employment while you are starting your new business allows you to make money while you go through the process of becoming a CEO.

Business Plan.
On my first business startup, I didn’t believe in this process. What a waste of time. Who needs a business plan? If you Google business plan, it looks like a 30 page document of your business blues.

Enter second and third startups – business planned.

You need direction. You need deadlines. You need to be able to look at your business from a bird-eye-view. When you write all of the critical stages and your targets down it makes the goal more real. If you look at your notes and find you need to mail out 1,000 post cards by Monday – you might not plan that weekend get-a-way and actually work on Sunday.

SIDE TIP: Most people spend so much time dotting every “I” and crossing every “t” until their business plan is nearly perfect that they never have time to start the business. It all changes anyway – go ahead and jump in!

A Logo will help distinguish your business (your new brand) from its competition. Be clever.
A Logo will help reach a specific audience and identify your new business. Understand your brand.
A Logo may convey the wrong message by using the wrong color. Color is big.
A Logo may consist of two characters. A word a symbol or both.  Choose wisely.
A Logo will take time to gain popularity. Keep it simple and easy. Recognition will come with time.

Go Get Customers!
Nothing else matters if you can’t do this. You will spend the majority of your time and effort focused on a sale or a sales process. Spend time (After business hours) working on your marketing process. Build your pipeline. Build your lead structure. Convert leads into prospects. Convert prospects into clients.

Create a list of leads that might be interested in your goods or service. This list should have 50-60 names with phone numbers. Start making calls and sell your business.  (I hope you have somewhere to write down the outcome of your calls and your newly formed appointment times)

Avoid the Headache Client. (Bonus Tip) 
Entrepreneur Magazine defines the Law of Discounting: The deeper the discount or the more generous the favor we give, the more unrealistic client’s demands will be. The clients who demand and continue to demand discounts will never be happy with your work. They are not worth the time and aggravation.

What are some tips you would like to share about starting your own business?


5 CRITICAL Business Lessons That College Forgot to Teach Us

We go to college with aspirations of becoming President & CEO of a company.  We study business.  We study marketing.  We just study, and study, and study.  We all have that one economics class that assigns us that group project to go build a company from scratch and watch it grow over the course of the class.  Eventually, we graduate and go into the world of entrepreneurship.  However, we enter that world unprepared.  

I asked 9 of my closest CEO friends to list their top 5 lessons they would teach if they were to teach a course on Small Business Entrepreneurship.  Here are theirs answers:  

1. Budget.
In college, your budget decisions were spun around food, entertainment, and school supplies. If you had extra money, you splurged; if you were low on money you ate fast food for the next three weeks.

A Business won’t be as forgiving.

The ability to read and understand a balance sheet or a profit and loss sheet is critical. You need the ability to plan for the next 3 months, 6 months, 12 months, and 24 months. During that planning, you need payroll, operating expenses, daily expenses, and unforeseen expenses.
A slight change for managing your college budget…..

2. Customer Service.
College students deal with teachers, counselors, deans, teacher aids, and fellow students. In theory, all of these people are there to help you through the process.

A Business won’t be as helping.

The ability to take a beating from a client and continue to find ways to “make it work” are vital for your business to bloom. How do you react to a customer who will always be wrong and be able to pivot the situation to make it appear as though they are always right?

3. Network. Network. Network.
Your engagement with your dorm buddy, drinking buddy, roommate, or test cheating buddy is not the same as your interaction with the world of business. These people were crucial to your success in college, sadly, they won’t matter when you are struggling with your Business.

A Business is not a college reunion.

As much as we love Joe, the former roommate – he is not right for your new Business. Prepare yourself to create meaningful relationships with the right people who can help move you along the corporate walk. Get the right people in your corner, possibilities become endless.

4. Salesperson(ship)
The only thing you ever sold in college was your used textbooks and that one report about your fictitious business plan and how you plan to become the next Business tycoon.

A Business won’t sell itself until you do.

Here is who you sell to: Everyone.

People need to buy into your company mission. People need to buy into your solution. You sell the ideas and vision to your employees. You sell the vision to your clients. You sell the vision to anyone who will listen. Sell. Sell. Sell. Over time, the experience you gain from this process will allow you to read and anticipate client’s needs in order to get them hooked onto your Business.

5. Time Management. Productivity.
In college, you got to pick that 11:15am class to allow you to sleep in. You got to get off school at 2pm so you could make it to your part time afternoon job.

A Business won’t allow you the luxury of a schedule.

Free time will not exist. You work 24x7x365.

You will have those friends who will make fun of you when you are still working at 10pm while they are out at the bar watching the local baseball team drop another game. You will have friends who will disown you because you are ALWAYS working. It will be completely normal to work on a business proposal or finish one more invoice before you call it a night. Welcome to owning a Business and the title of CEO.

What business lesson would you want to see added to a college curriculum?