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?Print This Post