The art of starting your own business is as unique as you are. There are volumes written about how to start a business, coming up with the right idea, evaluating whether the timing is right and so on. I do not profess to be an expert in any of these aspects, but I have tried to start my own business many times and have learned that there are a few tricks.
I admitted to myself right up front that I didn't know everything…
I recently took a trip to Switzerland with my wife. We decided to try a number of new activities that would allow us to experience the beautiful countryside like we hadn't before. During this trip I discovered several things I learned while exploring Switzerland parallelled starting your own business, including:
1. If you don't know where you're going, ASK.
When I decided it was time to start my own business, a friend that I have great respect for gave me some good advice. He said, “Don't try to do it alone, it's too hard.” When I started my most recent venture, I admitted to myself right up front that I didn't know everything. It can be a hurdle for some whose egos get in their way, but don't ever let your ego get the best of you.My experience has taught me that one of the most important things to consider as an entrepreneur is that you can do it your way, or you can save yourself a lot of heartache and u-turns by asking for assistance when you need it.
2. If the person you ask doesn't speak the same language you do, FIND SOMEONE WHO DOES.
Once I had resolved to find help I put together a team of experts that could guide me through the hard parts and act as a sounding board when I needed a listening ear. It has paid off many, many times. It is kind of like trying to build your own house with the best intentions, and a pretty good idea, but no expertise on how to complete the details like plumbing, electrical, roofing, etc.In my case, I broke my business into functions. I had expertise in the industry I wanted to focus on, but things like finance, manufacturing, legal and regulatory were overwhelming. I wanted to add experience to my team so I identified people that I knew could tell me honestly when I needed to correct my ship.
I was manufacturing a product that had government regulations. I felt I needed the following experts:
- A general business expert that was strong and no nonsense.
- A legal expert that could guide me through the general legal issues.
- An industry expert that already had a strong perspective of expectations and competition.
- A finance expert that could assist in general accounting, but more importantly could assist with finding outside financing if and when necessary.
- A regulatory expert that knew the ins and outs of government expectations and how it might impact our business.
To find the experts needed to help you accomplish your goals, I recommend asking friends and trusted colleagues within your network. Talk to friends that know what your doing and trying to accomplish. If you don’t know anybody in the desired fields, make an appointment with the person you think would be exceptional and see if they would be willing to assist. Think if you had the perfect opportunity and you wanted the perfect team to help you get there, who would you call?
3. If you're not sure you believe them, TEST THEIR DIRECTIONS.
Give it a try. One of the reasons that you have mentors, and specifically a group of advisors, is to help you. Hopefully these are individuals that have practical experience that will assist in avoiding some of the common business hurdles. More than once I have trusted the advice of my advisors and found a savings of time, money and frustration. These suggestions may involve things like how you structure your business, putting together corporate documents, naming your company, and other various issues or concerns.
With these viewpoints and success principles, the only barrier left is yourself. One of my business partners from Mississippi is always telling me how his entrepreneurial friends are always “fixin' to,” but never seem to be able to take the important step of actually starting. Don't be one that is “fixin' to” take the next step.
Now go and do…
Brad Andrews is co-founder of Provide Nutrition LC, a manufacturer and marketer of medical nutrition products. Prior to starting Provide Nutrition, Brad worked in healthcare distribution, manufacturing and sales for more than 30 years. He is active in the Utah entrepreneurial community advising other start-up companies in avoiding start-up hazards. Brad was recently honored as Entrepreneur of the Year by the NorthFront Business Alliance.