Lending Club Blog

7 Things I Did Right With My Start-up That Still Make Me Smile

Last week I wrote about the 7 things I did wrong with my start-up. This week, I hash out what I think I got right.

1. I Hired Two C’s – College Students and Contractors

If your business is near a college (whose isn’t?) and you’re not hiring college students, you are throwing money and good talent down the drain.

For four years in their lives college students are willing to work for the sake of experience, at little or no pay. Give students real work to do, manage them well, and you’ve just discovered a gold mine of talent that truly wants real-life business experience.

Do you need a designer on staff? For most businesses the answer is no. Post a few small projects on guru.com, getafreelancer.com or crowdspring.com (for design work) to find good contractors. Good relationships with reliable contractors allow you to expand your business quickly on demand.

2. I Worked My Butt Off

Starting a new company takes hard work. Don’t let anyone tell you otherwise. If you’re not willing to sacrifice during the early stages of your company, being an entrepreneur probably isn’t for you.

One word of caution on working your butt off: Do it with the intention of someday not working like a madman. At some point you’ll want to enjoy the fruits of your hard work, don’t ever forget that.

3. I Taught Myself to Love Sales

As the leader of your company if you don’t love selling your product or service, you’re in trouble.

If you have a sales team, challenge them to a sales day. See who can make the most sales in a day or week. Being able to sell your service also keeps you in touch with the most important aspect of your business: your customers.

4. I Got a Mentor

Early on in my business I found an older, more experience entrepreneur to mentor me. Especially if you are starting your first company, I cannot stress enough the importance of having the help of an outsider to give you straight talk about your business.

5. Craigslist Furnished My Office

Bottom line: Don’t buy new office furniture. Craigslist has loads of smokin’ deals on office furniture, and equipment. With all the mortgage companies going out of business, there is a lot of nice office equipment available right now.

6. I Learned Basic HTML, PHP and SEO

With the ability of the web to make or break many businesses today you need to understand basic HTML, PHP and search engine optimization. This doesn’t mean you need to handle the design or programming aspects of your business. You probably shouldn’t be doing this, but understanding what is going on is key to making budget and hiring decisions for your business in these areas.

7. I Didn’t Stick to My Original Business Plan

Things change. Partners leave. Customers go out of business. Industries can vanish overnight. You must remain flexible with your business. Sticking line by line to the business plan you wrote 6 months ago is called tunnel vision! You must be willing to respond to market conditions and adapt your business accordingly.

Keep your business plan updated and stick it in your bathroom or somewhere you’ll constantly be able to look at it and mark it up.

Just missed the list:

I made sure that I was in love with our logo before settling on it. I pasted variations of it all over our office for weeks before finalizing it. To this day and now years later, I still think it was one of the best investments I made.

What have you done right with your start-up?

Tuesday, September 2nd, 2008 at 12:42 pm

Comments (6)

  1. It’s really great to hear about other people’s experience with
    their startups. Entrepreneurs who don’t make mistakes either don’t
    succeed or are super-lucky. And it’s nice to be able to read about
    others’ successes and mistakes. Thanks too for mentioning
    http://www.crowdspring.com/dontfollow in your post. We built
    crowdSPRING to help small and midsize businesses around the world
    leverage creative talent from around the world. We’ve had buyers
    from 30 countries and over 5,000 creatives from 130+ countries work
    on crowdSPRING. Buyers on crowdSPRING set their price and pick from
    actual designs, rather than bids and proposals (as they would on
    guru.com or getafreelancer.com). And we offer customized legal
    contracts, full project management, great customer service, and a
    guarantee that if you don’t get at least 25 entries to your
    project, you get your money back. There is no fine print. So – we
    invite your readers to take a look. It’s tough running a start-up,
    or any business, for that matter, Why not let creatives from around
    the world make the purchase of creative services (such as logo,
    website, illustration or print design) easier for you… Best, Ross
    Kimbarovsky co-Founder http://www.crowdspring.com/dontfollow

    September 2nd, 2008 at 7:43 pm

  2. Nice post DebtKid. So, spill the beans…what is your start-up?

    September 5th, 2008 at 1:15 pm

  3. [...] 7 Things I Did Right with My Start-up That Still Make Me
    Smile Last week I wrote about the 7 things I did wrong with my
    start-up. This week, I hash out what I think I got right. [...]

    September 6th, 2008 at 11:45 am

  4. [...] 7 things I did right with my start up that still make me
    smileAdded on 09/04/2008 at 06:40PM Sphere: Related Content [...]

    September 7th, 2008 at 3:32 pm

  5. I really enjoyed this posting – and I agree with everything you
    said. I often say the same things to clients. What I like to
    emphasize is your Items 3, 4 & 5. I tell clients that no matter
    how good their product or service is, if they can’t sell it they
    won’t stay in business. Having a mentor (either a paid consultant
    or an unpaid friend) who has “been there, done that” can keep you
    from making many mistakes and waisting a great deal of money.
    Finally, I not only talk to them about used furniture, but also
    emphasize the importance of overall low overhead. I have seen many
    companies go out of business because their overhead was out of
    control. This was my first visit to your site and I look forward to
    reading more of your postings

    September 21st, 2008 at 9:18 am

  6. Jasen:

    Hi there, I completely agree with you. Banks will never get to a
    point of engaging the customers at a meaningful level over social
    media. However, everyone thought IBM was dead when PCs came out, so
    don’t count them out just yet.

    November 10th, 2010 at 11:40 pm


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