Jordyn Dahl, a Sr. News Editor, sent an email asking me to share some advice to those looking to start their own business in the shadow of the pandemic. The question that got me was, “What would you go back and tell yourself if you were starting today?” Ok, here goes:
The perfect time to start a business is now!
1. Like many major life decisions, there is no perfect time to start a business. If you’re waiting for some sign, it’s not likely to come. You need to jump in and go for it. Seriously. Decide. It will set you free.
If it’s not in writing, it didn’t happen
2. Write things down! If something you discussed on the phone or over lunch isn’t summarized, memorialized in an agreement seen and acknowledged by all parties involved, it didn’t happen. Verbal agreements will bite you and hurt you. It’s amazing how people get amnesia or remember things differently as time passes. When I say write it down, I’m not talking about social media posts or SMS Text messages. Come on, man!
Choose excellent over original
3. Trying to be original over being excellent is expensive and risky. Set your sights on excellence and zero in on proven examples of people and business examples to mimic. There’s no need to travel into the abyss blindly when reliable maps are all around you.
Seek out great advisors, not family or friends
4. Find and recruit great advisors you can learn to trust. But, choose your advisors VERY carefully. Family and friends are often not the best choices for several reasons, but it may be decades before you realize that. Save yourself the grief.
Your behavior establishes your company culture
5. You, and every person that works with you, establish your company culture in the eyes of others. If you and your team are always late, overlook details, fail to listen, communicate poorly, dress like bums, or keep a cluttered workplace, that is how your customers and your suppliers will see you. If you are upbeat, demand timeliness and quality, look sharp, fast, and responsive, that is how your customers and suppliers see you. Things like respect, trust, ethics, fairness are so hard to nurture and so easily lost. Hire people that are 100% and never waiver. Preserving your company’s culture is more difficult with growth. Don’t settle.
You must seek out the best people for your team
6. The best people aren’t usually looking for a job. So, you must get out and find them. When you do, and you’re sure, you need to win them over. Persuade them to join you. Pay attention! Great people hide in plain sight where you least expect to find them! The lady handing you the hot dog at the food truck in the park may be your future VP of Sales 25 years from now.
Stop and smell the flowers regularly
7. Schedule time to reflect and share with your team. What’s gone well? What could be better? Say thank you! If you need to close down for a while to share and give thanks, then do it!
Pay attention for opportunities to leverage change
8. Embrace change as opportunities. Puzzles worth solving. Pay attention!
Don’t fall into the trap of buying stuff and taking debt
9. Preserve your Capital! Do without or buy second-hand. Lease if you must. Save your cash. Avoid debt like the plague!
Learn how to measure what matters most and track it
10. Measure and test and compare everything you do. Know your Key Performance Indicators (KPIs)