Monday, August 16, 2010

Start Small

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Start off small. You don't need millions of dollars or years of experience to start a successful business. If you did, no one would ever have start a new business.

Money helps a business grow but it doesn't ensure success. Having the money to build a lemonade factory won't help you sell lemonade if you don't understand the lemonade business. What does it take to sell lemonade? I don't know, but I'd start small, with a lemonade stand, to find out. I'd need to figure out what makes a good location, talk to my customers about why they buy lemonade, figure out how much it costs to run the business, etc. Maybe I'd never succeed because guys can't competitively to sell lemonade! One thing is for sure. If I knew the formula for running a successful lemonade stand and needed a factory because I couldn't make the stuff fast enough to keep up with demand, someone would invest the funds I needed in my business because I’d figured out how the business works.

Part of the reason I believe I have what it takes to build a multi-million dollar business is that I have a big mouth and talk about my insecurities. I used to put myself down by saying I didn't have the talent to run a large business. I told one entrepreneur that I wasn't startup founder material and he politely informed me that I was full of crap. He said that any idiot with the right idea can run a business. The key to being a success is building a business an idiot could run. Keep it simple stupid!

Based on my current set of experiences, here's what I believe it takes to start a successful business:
  • You're default setting is risk. Playing it safe is a great formula for being an employee. Risk takers walk on the moon, become president, and build great companies.

  • You can fire people. I hate firing people, but one bad apple can drag the best team down. Give bad apples the boot.

  • Diapers. Sheer terror will scare the crap out of you. The trick is not letting anyone notice there's hot steamy goodness in your shorts.

  • A product or service worth buying. I don't think this needs explanation.

  • Likability. You need people who like working with you. You literally can't afford people who don't like you. How much would I charge to work with a jerk? Too much for the sucker to afford.

  • Inherent masochism. Why would anyone who didn't like dealing with problems ever start a business?

  • Patience. It'll take longer than you think.

  • The ability to be wrong. You're going to screw it up. Own your failure, learn from it, and move on.

  • Persistence. Stick with it longer than any sane person would.

  • Ignore trolls. There will be a vocal minority who hates you no matter what you do. Ignore them.

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