I want to pass along some tips from Brandon Turner of www.entrepreneur.com on how to successful get a new venture up and running. Entrepreneurship is something OutOfYourRut.com encourages, so our goal is to make as many contributions to your plans as possible. These tips apply to new business start-ups but they could just as well be written for established businesses too.
First of all, let’s admit that starting a business is exciting — and scary. Brandon describes is as “driving through a heavy fog where you are only able to see a few feet in front of the windshield — you don’t know what’s up ahead until it’s upon you. However, the longer you are an entrepreneur, the better you can navigate through that fog.”
Since we’ve put the key in the ignition and put her in drive, let’s get on down the road.
1. Don’t Be Intimidated By The “Experts’ Statistics”
That’s something said by those who throw in the towel, or you never though their buddy had it in him anyway. If you are going to be serious about this, put negativism out of your mind; look only at the positive statistics. Here are the real reasons most stat-ups don’t make it:
- Most people don’t commit.
- They don’t follow through to the end.
- They are stupid in how they manage their money
2. Your Business Should Be Something You Like To Do
This is going to be something you will do every day. It has to be something you want to do, something you would rather do than anything else. A sign of success if the devotion you have to doing the work. My father would (and did) everything and anything he could around the neighborhood movie theater he co-owed for two years; the only reason he let it go was his two partners didn’t have the commitment to its operation that he did. Be prepared in your thinking that this is what you will do until you die.
3. No One Knows Everything
“Self-education” is more than reading books. “On-the-job training” in reality is going into something about which you know nothing and learning it all. Yes, you’ll make mistakes and wrong decisions, but no one gets ahead without doing something. I remember the first time I put on headphones and put my right index finger on a microphone switch. I didn’t know if the thing was “spring loaded” and I’d have to hold it open, or if it just flipped into place but there was no one there to do it for me, so I did it and learned (BTW, the switch locked itself in the “on” position, but I kept my finger pressed on that thing the entire time I spoke on radio for the first time.)
4. As They Say On The University Of Georgia Football Team, “Finish The Drill”
That’s an expression begun by Vince Dooley and a tradition continued by Mark Ritch. It applies to starting a business as well as Southeastern Conference football. Start and then keep on doing it until it is right. The late great Yogi Berra said the same thing == “It ain’t over ‘til the fat lady sings.” And speaking of that, do any of you recall the final episode of ST. ELSEWHERE? I believe it was Howie Mandell who walked past a curtained-off emergency room cubicle and revealed a 300-pound woman in full Valkyrie garb who burst into song.
5. Convenience Does Not Make Good Bedfellows
Only sign someone else on to manage with you if it is necessary. No one ever can accurately predict personality conflicts, but when the develop, they can be game losers. Suddenly you have to explain choices to someone else who might not see it as you do. You have to split the proceeds. Just because your brother-in-law is as enthusiastic about the project as you are, tell your sister maybe it would be better for him to do it by himself, too.
6. Being A “Boss” Ain’t Easy To Be
Working with people is the hardest thing in business. You have to learn to be tactful, assertive, patient, kind, all at the same time. The only way you know if you’re doing it right is if no one decks you with a hard left jab. Find a mentor outside the business and talk about the challenges. Don’t rush into making decisions. After a few times, you’ll begin to experience the self-confidence you need to do the job.
7. Facebook And Twitter Are Not The Answers
It’s going to be tough enough with the ordinary routines of your start-up without the distractions these traps offer you and your co-workers. Until things settle down, ban these two applications (and any other “social media” from your network. Let them use their own cell phone minutes.
8. Nobody Made A Million Dollars With A Set Of Fancy Business Stationary
The trappings come after you’ve started producing. Focus on the important tasks of getting the product and services out there for the world to use. Once you’ve got several thousands in the bank, hire a professional to design these accoutrements. Save your creative juices for the big job – running the business.
9. “Obsession” Is Dedication On Steroids
If you think there should be a line between “dedication to your job” and “obsession with your job,” screw the line. Never let anyone tell you that you are too preoccupied with your concept. If you are not thinking about the business what should you be thinking about?
10. Don’t Quit The Day Job … Yet
Let’s be honest: there are 168 hours in a week, only 40 are consumed by your job and another 50 by sleep. You have plenty of time if you would just hustle and turn off Netflix. You may need that safety net for a time. So, for a bit you may be a tad tired as you punch in at the factory each morning, but knowing that in the evening you’ll be doing what you really love will boost your spirits. And, if you follow these rules, it could only be for a short while.
11. Work On The Right Things
Prioritize your tasks. Which ones will really affect the business income? Which ones are “time fillers?” Will painting a “BIG SALE” banner for the store bring in more income than negotiating a deal to be the exclusive dealer for Watson’s Widgets? Figure it out. If you can’t you may have made the wrong choice.
12. Businesses Come And Go, But Family Is Forever
Never forget that. If you can’t remember it, have someone write “Family First” on every page of your appointment book. They’ll still be with you even when the sheriff shutters the shop.
13. Go See Your Optometrist And Get An Extra Set Of Reading Glasses
My wife is constantly encouraging our granddaughter to read,read, READ, READ! She reminds her books can take you places you may never get to visit. Reading inspires, reading encourages, reading relaxes. Do you think Kevin and I just sit around and these posts just “come to us?” No way. We’re reading everything we can get our hands on, hoping for that spark of an idea that will blossom into a full blown article.
14. Reveille Is Earlier Than Sunrise
Ever thought about who got George Patton or Robert E. Lee out of bed? They didn’t wait for the bugle call. They were up before the sun, ready to do what had to be done, or, at least, tell someone else what to do. This thing is going to take lots of hours to make it work, and you’d better be prepared to put in more hours on it than you do working for someone else; you’re working for yourself.
15. If You Build It, The Money Will Come
Kevin Costner had to clear that corn field all by himself. If he hadn’t that voice would have driven him crazy. He did, and do you recall the line of cars lined up to come to the field? So, as long as you’ve made this commitment, you give it everything you’ve got. Believe it will be the best thing since sliced bread (okay, maybe since pepperoni pizza). But the point is to not get overly involved in financing. Try to get things off the ground with what capitol you have. It might mean a second mortgage but that’s better than a complicated promissory note. Nothing will drag a dream down faster than the entanglements of debt.
Operate on a shoestring as long and as much as you can. Bringing investors in only complicates the financial dealings and lays unnecessary pressure on the operation to perform.
“Like driving down a lonely highway on a dark, foggy night,” Turner concludes, “entrepreneurship can be a little scary. …If you are just getting started with your business, just remember this: keep driving through the fog. Your future self will thank you.”
Have any of you out there ever gone through the complete process of becoming an entrepreneur from the “ground up?” How would you rate these suggestions? Can you give us some of your own tips?