Are you sick and tired of losing money in the market and figuring out if you are going to keep your job?
I met an executive of a mid-sized company today that is awfully miserable in his position and has been dreaming about starting a company that he is passionate about. Get this - he’s been working on his business plan for 5 years. I asked him why he hasn’t started yet, this is what he said in bulletpoint form:
- I don’t even know how to get started
- I have no funding
- I don’t know if I can give up my salary
- It’s too risky, what if I fail
- If I had a nice retirement nest egg I’d start it now
Are you making excuses as well? Well, the answer to starting a successful company is really easy, you’ve got to get in the game and START. It may seem obvious, but it’s not - in order to win, you’ve got to start. There are too many dreamers and not enough executers, are you one of them? Often times, the biggest barrier to entry is YOU!
I’d always encourage people to jump with both feet in, sometimes it’s just not practical so building a company and getting started in the evenings when you’re not working is a great way to get started.
Here are some specifics that I’d encourage you to think about as you get serious about starting your business:
1) Be very passionate about the business. You will go through tough times, so give yourself ample time to get the model right. I’d recommend that you get comfortable with 2 years. You’ll probably want to quit at 3 months if you don’t see traction, that’s why you’ve got to be passionate enough to get through those times to make it successful.
2) Build a focus plan - 30, 60, 90 days out. Small wins lead to a big victory. Set out exactly what you plan to do much like a coach of football team often will plan out the first 20 offensive plays. Then, get ready to pivot as you see opportunity.
3) Be creative. These days you don’t need much money to startup and everything, I mean everything, is negotiable. Phone systems, Internet access (negotiate with your neighbor), rent, even computers (I negotiate with Dell on the phone). You can find help just about anywhere.
4) Network. Get your name out there, let everyone know you started a business, take meetings, go to social networking events, brand yourself! Set a goal to go out to lunch once a week with someone new in your industry. Don’t be an island.
5) Learn to sell. This is not something you learn from business school or academia. You’ve got to sell workers, customers, investors, buyers, vendors, etc. Find your selling formula, soft sells, hard sells, sales funnels, etc. One of my favorite lines from the movie “Boiler Room” is ABC - Always Be Closing! Practice selling today.
I’m often asked is it a good time to start a company right now in this environment. I always say, it’s always the best time to start a business right now for some obvious reasons and for some not so obvious reasons. If you don’t get off your butt and get started now, you’ll be sorry. Here’s why:
1) People are hunkering down. Most folks just want to stay at their comfortable jobs and not start businesses. Thus, if you start a business, there’s less competition and less noise in the marketplace. It’s much easier to get your name out there.
2) Costs are coming down. Like I mentioned above, everything is negotiable. The cost of doing business - hiring, rent, utilities, legal, etc are all getting cheaper. If you are very resourceful, you can even get some of them for free by exchanging equity or service or even being a reference client. You’d be amazed what you can get these days. You can build a product in less time for less money than during the boom times.
3) It’s easier to sell. Think about it, if you’re selling to businesses, there are less companies calling on companies, decision makers can take your calls now. If you focus your pitch on how you can help other companies or individuals save money, you’ve really hit on something people are looking for right now.
4) You’ve got an out. In these hard economic times, if you’re laid off, it’s increasingly difficult to find another job. In fact, it really sucks out there. If you have a startup already in the works, no big deal, you’ve already got something cooking where most people don’t. Remember, companies have no loyalty, in order to survive they also need to make hard decisions and that decision may not include you. So, build your out now!
5) You will kick-ass when the economy turns around. People will start building businesses again when the economy turns, but it will be too late. You will have already built a product, grabbed market share, and will be much better positioned to win and potentially even exit (since you’ll be the only one standing) when the economy turns. No better time to be building during the down times such that in the boom times you are the recognized leader. Make it happen!
So - forget about the stock market, if you’re like me, you like to play but you just get hurt everytime you try to play the market. Create your own market and get in the game today! Tell me in the notes if you think I’m smoking crack about starting companies in this crazy time or if you agree.