Here’s a guest post on starting a business by Mike Koehler of Smirk New Media. Mike specializes in helping companies promote and protect their online success. Follow Mike on Twitter. You can guest post as well! Read how to here.
Don’t Start With Nothing
It might make for a more interesting rags-to-riches story, but there’s no real reason to start your business from scratch, especially in an interconnected world where so many people have so much to offer. Here are the five key possessions that have enabled me to launch and establish a great business.
- A Group of Wise Advisers – As it says in Proverbs 19:20, get all the advice and instruction that you can, so you can be wise for the rest of your life. That’s especially true when you start a business from the ground up. These should be the people in your life who will be brutally honest with you. Let them play the role of potential client, investor or prospect. Draw from the wisdom they have in making decisions.
- Connections with Leaders in Your Industry – There is a good chance, whether you are a social media consultant like me or an accountant or a handyman, that there will be people in your city who do what you do but work for a large corporation. Connect with them and find out what they think about your industry and what you can do to succeed. They have secure jobs and internal customers, so they won’t see you as a competitor. They are also a great source for leads!
- The Latest Information About Your Business – No one wants to hear about what was hot in your business in 1993. Show potential customers you know the latest statistics about what kind of customers use your service and what they see in return. Memorize eight or 10 facts you can repeat at a moment’s notice.
- As Little Capital as Possible to Run Your Company Before You Grow – All I needed to start my business was a laptop, a website and some business cards. Total expense? Less than $500. There was a lot of temptation to get loans or credit cards, so I could get an office, buy ads and spend money before I was making it. Fortunately, there are many low-cost (or free) options for marketing (social media!), staffing (interns!) and materials. Once you grow, you can upgrade all of these. Your customers will notice because they speak to your success.
- Supportive and Prayerful Friends and Family – Even if you are looking at a blank prospect list, there are goals, vision and favor you can be praying for. Ask your friends and family to do the same. During the hard times, knowing that someone is lifting you up can get you through the day.
Starting a business is stressful enough. These are just a few things that will remove a lot of stress, and give you a stronger foundation.
Question: What are some possessions you think people should have when starting a business?
71 thoughts on “5 Key Possessions For Starting A Business”
I like your advice about building a network of mentors around you. I think this is one of my greatest needs right now, and I have been in business for 6+ years. Business leaders face problems that are far bigger than their brain alone. I have a team of three people working with me, and boy have they been a blessing. I want to build that to what you were talking about – outside connections with wise people.
What other possessions should people have for their business?
VISION. Without it you die. As Simon Sinek says so well: People don’t buy what you do, they buy WHY you do it. The stronger your ‘why’ is, and they better you are at communicating that to others, the better you’ll be able to attract talent and clients.
And let your vision be compelling. Making money isn’t a good vision. It’s what happens if you do your work with excellence – but it shouldn’t be your ‘why.’
@Aaron Nelson Great point OB vision Aaron! Vision is like any other product, it must be bought and sold to be of any use! That absolutely extends to clients!
@Skropp @Aaron So true sir! I just got out of a meeting with a prospective client – you know what we spent an hour talking about? Wasn’t product features. It was basically vision. It was listening hard to their ‘Why’ and then doing my best to share mine and explain how we fit into making theirs possible. People don’t by your what…they really buy your ‘why.’
@Aaron Nelson That’s string Aaron! Without vision, your business perishes!
@ChrisLoCurto @Aaron So true Chris – I have had so many days when I have wanted to quit and shut down and just get myself a J.O.B where I don’t have to care about being a business leader. Vision and passion for what I do (and I just plain love it most days) have kept me in the game.
@Aaron Nelson Thanks, awesome comment. Be sure your vision incorporates your whole life. Not just what is the vision for business success, but how does that impact your marriage and family. I had a lot of vision about making sure three kids had braces. 🙂
@mkokc –Vision for getting braces on your kids – – LOL that’s hilarious! Serious….but hilarious at the same time. I totally hear that.
Vision is so important man, and you’re right on being sure to connect your life outside of work to your life inside of it – it should all be the same in my opinion. What I mean is that you shouldn’t have to shut part of yourself off when you cross the ‘border’ of work to home. The whole person goes to work (be you entrepreneur, or for someone else ) and the whole person goes home again.
You’re doing something wrong if there’s a transformer thing going on. (My humble opinion.)
Great ideas! I especially appreciate your suggestion about starting small i dont know if its just me, but im in the planning stage of a new business and i keep having more and more ideas of services to offer i have to consciously remind myself to SLOW DOWN and START SMALL so i dont over extend myself!
The only other thing I’d add would be attitude. @Joelfortner touched on this in his blogpost a couple of days ago about overcoming obstacles. You’ve gotta have a “I can do it attitude” and realize often obstacles are put there by our own excuses.
@Skropp I believe, if you don’t believe, you can’t do it. Joel is absolutely right on.
@ChrisLoCurto “I believe, if you don’t believe”. HahA just struck me funny, like your belief is predicated on my not believing. :$
@ChrisLoCurto “I believe, if you don’t believe” just struck me funny, haha. Like your belief is predicated on my disbelief, :).
@ChrisLoCurto And THAT of course would be bad form for any leader haha.
@Skropp @Joelfortner No one was better at telling me to slow down than my wife. I told her she was the “restrictor plate” on the race car of my business, making sure I didn’t hit the wall.
@mkokc @Skropp @Joelfortner Totally! My wife is also my restrictor My Dad once told me: Son, never ever ever ever do something that you’re both not in agreement on. Period. If you’re not in agreement, wait. Cast vision. Listen to their concerns…but never be a cowboy and just ride out on your own. Bad things happen there…totally agree.
@mkokc @Joelfortner Restrictor plate on the race car of my business…LOVE IT! Haha
Clean and simple post. Nice work!
As a representative for close to 70 business owners in a Coop, the one thing I came to realize is that learning best practices can change everything! And it is definitely all about attitude.
The owners that came in with humble hearts and student mentallities always got the most out of their interactions with other owners. Unfortunately, that only represented a small fraction of them. Entrepreneurs want to teach; not listen and learn.
If you can keep that humility as a business owner, your employees, customers, and bottom line will notice!
Thanks again for the guest post! I’ll catch you on Twitter!
@selfemployedbob Great point Bob!!
@selfemployedbob Thanks Bob!
@selfemployedbob Great comment. I’m a teacher, and one of my favorite quotes ever is this: “He who dares to teach, must NEVER cease to learn.” This does apply to every position you can hold in life…Leader, parent, teacher, follower, janitor…..a humble and teachable heart are things of great value.
Man, this is a key reason why I’m excited about working with you!
@JoelFortner JOEL – LIKEWISE MAN. I’m lookin forward to making that happen.
Everything starts with passion, which is determined by your personality, interests, beliefs, dreams, vision, and all those things that ignite fascinating ideas. Practice is getting your feet wet, testing your dreams against reality. Planning is where you guide your dreams.
Getting them out of order leads to nasty results. If you plan before you have passion, you’re discounting who you are and why you exist. If you plan before practice you’re at a slightly higher level than a “well-wisher,” with a bit more talent for making stuff up (you have no real basis for authenticating your plan). If you practice without passion, you’re usually wasting your time and produce little results.
I often cringe when people bring me detailed business plans outlining how they will make a million dollars. The plans are good and solid, and they likely will make a million dollars, but who is to say they could not have made three million or five million or even more? That’s the danger of planning before passion and practice.
@Jonathan Henry Jonathan, THAT is some fantastic advice. I think your comment in and of itself could be the subject of a blog post…I know a really cool guy that sometimes allows guest posts (ahem, cough @chrislocurto cough). Thanks for your insights!!
@Skropp I can’t claim that as my own advice… in fact the whole 3-P (since we talk in numbers and letters here) idea has been mentioned in some form by about two dozen authors I’ve read, so in a sense “my” insight stems from the group of advisors (point one of this post) that I’ve built around myself in terms of books. Funny how that works, huh?
@Jonathan Henry Not that I don’t think you could come up with it yourself, but I’m not surprised. Haha. Most everything I say on here I got from someone else too… It’s the beauty of sharing and brainstorming, it may’ve been said before, but I hadn’t heard it so the way you put it was beneficial to me, even if the concept didn’t originate with you. I loved how Stephen Covey says at the beginning of “The Seven Habits…” basically that none of the things in there are his original ideas, but that he was simply putting them together and conveying them to the reader.
@Skropp I agree. Still would make a great guest post. 🙂
@Jonathan Henry Great post Jonathan. I’m going to remember: “. If you practice without passion, you’re usually wasting your time and produce little results.”
As someone who is currently starting a small business, but has no prior business experience, this is gold. Thank you so much! There is some great nuggets in the comments section also. I’ve started with only an idea and a dream, but now I have a plan for making that dream a reality.
@CRTolbert I’m in your exact same position!! Here’s to success for both of us!
@CRTolbert You’ve come to the right place! The posts are good and the comments are outstanding!!
@ChrisLoCurto @CRTolbert And Chris is being modest, because the posts are awesome! 🙂
@lilykreitinger @ChrisLoCurto @CRTolbert I think the awesome posts are on his off days…most days they surpass even that 😉
@Skropp @lilykreitinger @ChrisLoCurto @CRTolbert I agree. I’ve subscribe to his Podcast and have already learned a ton listening to the old ones.
I disagree. The commenters are far superior!!!!
@JoelFortner “By our powers combined…” nothing like quoting obscure cartoons from your childhood in a comment, haha
@Skropp @lilykreitinger @CRTolbert YOU GUYS ROCK!!
@JoelFortner Don’t think you can be a punk just cuz you’re gonna be a dad
@ChrisLoCurto @JoelFortner Dad??!? What??!? Congrats Joel! Nothin better in the world!!
@JoelFortner And some think too highly of themselves…
@ChrisLoCurto @JoelFortner Wooohoooo…. you’ll never sleep again and you will know what it feels like to have your heart in the back seat of your car instead of inside your body. Greatest blessing ever. Congrats!!!!!!
@ChrisLoCurto What? I read in some book that I could.
@Skropp @ChrisLoCurto @JoelFortner Thanks! We’re excited!
@lilykreitinger @ChrisLoCurto Wow that was awesomely said! Can’t wait for that experience.
@CRTolbert Thanks for the great reply! Having a dream is great – rally your supporters around you and get them to buy in! It will be awesome.
@mkokc I really appreciate the encouragement.
@CRTolbert I suggest you read the E-Myth revisited. It’s not the answer to everything about starting business, but boy will it help you organize and get your mindset right. Favorite quote from that book: A business owner’s job is to make jobs for someone else.
To make that happen, you need to be thinking about on purposefully from the start. Wish I had that book 6 years ago!
@Aaron Nelson Thank you. I’m Googling it right now.
@Aaron Nelson @CRTolbert Aaron is so right! E-Myth Revisited is not a book; it is a method of laying a HEALTHY foundation for a business, and build the business right! After I’ve read the book I realized why my 1st business was a failure… After you’ll read this book you’ll [almost sure!] redesign everything about your business.
@CRTolbert One piece of advice I offer to you is don’t compare yourself too much to those who’ve been doing what you do for a long time. As Jon Acuff said, don’t compare your beginning to their middle. Doing so can be unnecessarily intimidating, daunting and stressful. Also, they went through growing pains, too, which you’ll never see. All you see is what appears to be a sucessful business, which may or may not even be true. Learn, absorb and trust yourself but don’t compare and copy.
@JoelFortner @CRTolbert AWESOME advice Joel! So true. And sometimes trying to be like everyone else is actually robbing you of a business advantage. You do things differently that the dude down the street. Let that shine!
There are hundrends of language schools in Mexico City – some with decades of business ahead of me – but nobody delivers English courses exactly the way we do it. If I try to be like everyone else, I get lost in the noise.
@JoelFortner @CRTolbert I think on the Servant Leadership podcast episode, Dan Cathy quotes Seth Godin on how the future is already out there. You can learn from someone who is what you want to be 10 years from now, but like Joel says, learn how they started and how they got there. You have your unique skills and talents to sell now.
Very clear information and great insight! It makes the process seem a lot less overwhelming!
@lilykreitinger Thanks! It’s still a scary jump to take, but it helps to know you have a parachute and some people to catch you.
@lilykreitinger I’ve barely started the process and I’m experiencing the overwhelming!!! Glad there’s so much great info availble these days!
This is a superb list, Mike! Agree wholeheartedly with every “possession.”
@JoelFortner Thanks Joel!
Hey y’all! This was a very enlightening post! A few of these I already knew, but it doesn’t hurt to hear them again. I think the one that stuck out the most was the latest information about your business. At first I was like, “Uh oh!” But when you said at the end, “Memorize eight or 10 facts you can repeat at a moment’s notice.” I was like, “Oh! I got that (In my bragging voice)!
But as far as some other thing that would help you in starting a business, I actually did a business video/podcast (Vlog) on this very subject. I think it was called “10 Things to Start a Kingdom (Godly) Business.” Actually it was just a personal devotion that I was doing just looking for business principle based off of the first 5 verses of Genesis 1. So the Lord led me share these little insights (my personal business devotions) with the world on my youtube channel. If any body wants to check it out, you are more than welcome to go to http://youtu.be/tARNY8NDBA.
I hope you are blessed by it!
@RicardoEquips Awesome! Thanks for the comments!
I had to laugh when I read your first one 🙂 Don’t get me wrong–I completely agree! But what stuck out to me was the word “wise”. Nothing against friends and family, but people will go there for advice. And sometimes those people know nothing about starting/maintaining a business or just cheer you on the whole way, whether to success or failure. I believe I’ve mentioned in previous posts…I think…that my last boss would not/could not pay me on time. While I was still there, he found out my husband was looking to start a business and wondered why I wasn’t asking his advice. He told me, if he was me, he would want to know since he had his own business. I explained to him that we had a couple mentors, a small support group of like-minded people, and an investor. I didn’t tell him I didn’t considered it wise to get advice from a boss who wouldn’t/couldn’t pay me on time and he thought his business was a success….sorry.
Thanks for the pointers, Mike!! 🙂
@Laura Johnson Thanks for the nice comments.
— Practica Knowledge and experience in the indstry
— Mentor (is available ) would be great
— Ability to forecast and predict the future trends
— Courage and guts to face uncertainty
I love your point about having counselors. I think anyone in almost any industry who’s successful has had a small army of trusted advisors.
@Loren Pinilis Thanks for the great comment. Yes, a small army works. 🙂
What a GREAT post, Mike! My favorite point is the “wise counsel”. Once upon a time, in a land far, far away, when I must have been having some type of “mid-life” crisis, I decided to open a restaurant even though “wise counselors” advised me against it. I paid for it dearly, believe me! Since then I have been more open to listening to those wise counselors in the event I am too emotionally involved in making the decision.
I love ALL your five possessions – excellent!
You need to contact the current/former business owner and ask to see a copy of his lease with the landlord. You want to look for clauses that pertain to his ability to sublease to you and how tenant property possession is to be treated in the event the business is closed.
What occurs when a company does not have the time to conduct the total research process on a problem before making a decision affecting a company??
You should definitely research the market that your product will be launching into. You need to find out how much competition you will have, if your product will sell, and how much to charge for that particular product.
I’m currently trying to setup a small fashion business to sell menswear, and though I have potential buyers for a made to measure collection, finance is, of course, an issue,