View Full Version : Question of the week: What's your one piece of advice for a start-up?
04-18-2011, 08:29 AM
Here's an opportunity to share some of the wisdom you've gained over the years via your successes and failures. And for you start-ups, a chance to share what you've already learned as well as grow from other experience.
So, you've got one thing you can tell a new start-up business. What say you?
04-18-2011, 09:29 AM
So far I'd have to say: FOCUS! For me, at least, this applies to everything from
making sure I'm clear on my business idea and what I have to offer, to
creating a road map of all the things I need to learn and how I plan to learn (books, courses, hiring someone, etc).
At some point last year I read a blog post about effective time management - focus was the key ingredient. As an example, the author said he read hundreds of blogs daily, and noted you can't do that unless you're disciplined about what you'll read and what you'll pass or save for later.
p.s. I think Joe's advice from the KTC Monday Morning Delivery also fits:
Try to please everyone and you’ll end up pleasing no one, least of all yourself.
Disclaimer: This is all very much still a work in progress for me!
04-18-2011, 09:44 AM
It's a two-parter (sorry).
1. Do the parts of the business that you love, that you're good at. Hire others to do the rest. This is so massively critical. If you are not a coder, do not try to learn HTML in order to build your own site. Do NOT do this! Hire someone to build you a world-class website. Spend your time building the parts of the business that you are capable of moving the needle on.
2. In order to be able to faithfully follow this #1 rule, save enough money so that you can hire others to do world-class work for you. This does not mean that bootstrapping your way to the top is a bad idea. Simply try to pull together as much money as you can so that you aren't forced to go cheap on really really important stuff - like your website, your packaging, the product itself.
04-18-2011, 12:05 PM
Do Something to Grow Your Business Every Single Day!
Chris that is such good advice! My first instinct was always "I'll do it myself", and I think that's what held me up for years. Recently finished "Making Ideas Happen" by Scott Belsky, and really learned a lot about the importance of assembling a good team with a mix of skills and passions.
04-19-2011, 08:25 AM
Don't try to do it all. You can't please everyone and you can't do everything yourself. Commitment is important every day. Be committed to your idea and make it happen. Be.Do.Have!
04-19-2011, 12:47 PM
I have to agree with Chris & Josh of not doing it all and focusing on getting the best resource to handle each project or Task.
I would also have to say on my part learn to choose your clients wisely since they can make you or break you!
04-21-2011, 04:13 PM
Save money. Save time. Save face. Think big and always find a way to do it with the minimal amount of upfront investment possible. That will give you the energy and the capital needed for the business to continue its positive growth.
04-25-2011, 01:04 PM
So many businesses fail early because they are undercapitalized and don't understand their cash flow. I's and O's in medicine stand for Ins and Outs- you have to have a balance between what you're taking and and what you are expending or there's something wrong. While clearly in business we'd all be thrilled to have more coming in than going out, that's often not the case at first.
A good friend of mine started consulting, and based all of his projections on being paid timely by his clients. That worked great on paper, but in the real world, clients sometimes pay in 30 - 90 days, and sometimes, I hate to say it- never. You have to prepare for those contingencies, and make sure you have enough in reserve so that if a client does not pay on time, you don't lose your office space/ home]don't get to eat this month, etc.
One of the best books out there on this is The Knack by Norm Brodsky- best selection of business advice I've read between 2 covers.
04-27-2011, 03:53 PM
I'm 3 months into starting my own chiropractic practice...my struggles mirror the advice given thus far and overhead is sitting only at 40%. Focus is tough, you must keep yourself accountable. I was able to find a business coach who is volunteering their time, and the benefit hasn't been tactical, it's been purely cleaning up my focus.
My question would be....I have big ideas that spread a couple mediums (consulting to other docs, one-on-one functional medicine counseling, as well blogging/affiliate marketing) and often lose sight of the fact that I can only do one thing at a time...any insight on overcoming this tendency?
04-28-2011, 01:33 PM
often lose sight of the fact that I can only do one thing at a time...any insight on overcoming this tendency?
Focusing on one thing at a time is a really big thing for me. As the years progress I find multi-tasking to be less and less of a valuable strategy.
The most successful business people that I know all share the trait of nearly "other-worldly" focus on the task at hand.
04-29-2011, 11:32 AM
I don't mean the plan you prepare to get finance (although that's a good starting point) - I mean the rest of the documentation supporting the smooth sales talk. Have base proposals and contracts, price lists, order forms, rate cards, all the supporting docs you promise to email off after a good meeting with a potential client ready before you start. You have to be very clear on what you're selling and how much you're charging and getting the documentation sorted out helps to do this.
The documents may not be perfect at the get-go, but you can always tweak them as you go along.
In the beginning I set up meetings with everyone I met - around the clock just about - and then almost killed myself just keeping up with typing up document after document to support and formalise the services we discussed in the meeting. Sometimes my hot leads went cold waiting for my highly detailed, highly personalised proposals. Not only did I lose the sale, I lost the hours I poured into something that could have been as effective were it simpler and delivered more promptly.
As a full service marketing company, the range of services we offer is very diverse - so I found it really helpful to type up a portfolio of ALL our services and then just copy and paste the relevant sections into a specific client proposal. Now the client gets a "tailor-made" proposal by the very next day...
04-29-2011, 11:44 AM
Follow the rule of spending one third of your time looking for new business. It's so easy to get caught up in the daily work but if you are not always aiming at increasing business, the pipeline dries up. Its a difficult thing to keep the focus but it pays off!
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