By Cindy Flanders
Between me and my partner, Amanda Weatherby, we have started six businesses. Some of them have done extremely well, i.e., sold to a public company, and some have failed. We've also coached well over 100 entrepreneurs. So it’s with some experience, I outline key lessons we’ve learned along the way.
1. Start simple. Many entrepreneurs are full of ideas. In fact, it’s hard for them to pick just one and so they run the risk of overcommitting in time, money, and resources. It’s best to start with one idea and if that works, then grow or diversify.
2. Play to your strengths. Many businesses start as a partnership. I know mine have. There are several risks of having a 50/50 ownership. Who is really in charge? Who will make the final, tough decisions? Decide early on what strengths each partner brings to the business and stick to it. For us, Amanda is the marketing expert and so I defer all those decisions to her. I have more of a finance background, so the money issues fall to me. Keep each other informed, but stick to your knitting to avoid potential conflicts.
3. Do your research. Not only with our own businesses, but with many of the entrepreneurs we’ve worked with, owners are at a loss to outline the market size, the competition, total cost of producing their product, etc. This is basic information that should be included in a business plan and yet, it’s often overlooked in the excitement of launching an idea.
4. Know your financing options. For most small business owners or solopreneurs, bank financing is not going to be an option. So, before you start spending, create a budget that will include all your startup costs and at least 12 months of expenses. Do you have your own money to finance these expenses? If not, do you have friends and family that can help? What non-bank financing options are available to you? This is information you need BEFORE you sell your first service or launch your first product.
5. Have fun! Remember why you decided to go it alone. When you’ve put in a 12-hour day and still have household responsibilities to take care of, make sure you find some joy in what you’re doing.
Finally, if your first business idea doesn’t pan out, take heart that you’re not alone. Even Bill Gates
had at least one failed business before succeeding with Microsoft.
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Amanda Weathersby, and Cynthia Flanders are Co-Leaders for the Profitable Idea LLC, which is now online!
© Copyright The Profitable Idea, 2023
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