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Business Cheat Sheets: Starting Up Your Company

Monday, May 13th, 2013
Posted in Advice by Joel Gross

 

I am going to start a new series of blog posts titled “Business Cheat Sheets”. Each cheat sheet will contain practical tips, advice and how-to’s on a key area of business. Download the Starting Up Your Company PDF here. For my first business cheat sheet, I will be giving some advice on getting started with a new business.

  1. Find an idea you believe in. Do not spend too much time hemming and hawing though; just jump straight in. You will change your business idea dozens of times as you hone in on what works and what does not.
  2. Outline a business plan.  Use a notebook or Google Docs or a similar tool to sketch out a business plan. Consider who you are selling to, what key features are needed, initial pricing, and other such information.
  3. Self finance your business. Taking on loans, venture capital and research grants are all extremely time consuming and difficult to get… not to mention once you have them it puts tons of pressure on you. Instead it is far better to save a bit of money and test the waters more gingerly.
  4. Get started immediately. Break down what projects you need to do first into smaller tasks. Don’t waste your time on things you will only need if you see traction – do not bother setting up legal, accounting, employees, or anything else that is not directly related to testing your idea in the marketplace. You can deal with all of that stuff later if the idea works, if it doesn’t then you wasted your time on all those items.
  5. Talk to your prospective customers now. Seek out people who you intend to be your target customer market immediately and try to sell them on your product/service before you get too far down the road. Make sure that your idea is something they will actually pay for and not just say that they will pay for.
  6. Minimize distractions. Sell your television and gaming systems. Remove anything from your life that you know will cause you difficulties in focusing on your business. Don’t waste your willpower trying to turn off the TV or xbox or World of Warcraft game. Get rid of those items and prepare to dig in and focus exclusively on your business.
  7. Exercise and eat healthy. Starting a business is an incredibly draining and challenging activity that requires you to be firing on all cylinders. If you want to succeed, it is very smart to give yourself the best possible opportunity by eating very healthily and exercising every day.
  8. Don’t let anyone but your target customers influence you. If people are telling you you are an idiot for doing what you are doing ignore them unless they are your actual target customers. Your actual target customers have the only opinion that really matters. Especially ignore people who tell you that starting a business is dangerous and foolish.
  9. Find other entrepreneurs and spend time with them daily. It is very valuable to spend time working with other entrepreneurs as they are also excited about starting a business and can help encourage you through tough times and give you advice.
  10. Expect to fail. Many of your efforts will fail and many of your ideas won’t work. Be prepared to work at building your business as if it is a giant scientific experiment and receiving data that one of your hypotheses did not work is actually a good thing. You now know more than you did before.
  11. Study other entrepreneurs. Read the books they have written – some good ones are Sam Walton’s autobiography, Richard Branson’s autobiography.
  12. Do not let your expenses outgrow your revenues. It is easy to want to hire an employee or a contractor to help you out, but don’t bring on assistance until you have the revenues to pay for it. This will also give you valuable training in different areas you are not familiar with such as legal, invoicing, marketing and other key areas you will need to succeed in the long run.
  13. Start with low prices. You will not be able to win on quality over competitors when you first start out since those competitors generally have had years of experience and fine tuning over you. So start with low prices and as demand for your services increases slowly raise your prices to match. Consider the time you are working at low rates to be education – and you don’t have to pay for this degree!
  14. Train yourself. One of the most important things an entrepreneur can do is learn how to train yourself. Whenever you see yourself lacking in a key skill, buy a book on it and study your butt off. I have bought over 100 texts on Amazon on everything from database programming to accounting to human resources.