About a month ago my wife and I packed up our children and our belongings, and headed to Maryland for a new chapter in my professional life. As I took the journey to being the “new guy”, many things ran through my head. Will I be able to perform above and beyond what’s expected of me? Will we be able to find a home that we can afford? What if things don’t work out, then what? These were just some of my concerns, as I worked through my fear of the unknown.
Starting a business is not so different. There is always that sense of fear and excitement in the unknown as one ventures out to become the “new guy” in the marketplace. There are however, some things that you can do to help battle that fear, and obtain victory over it, as you become a successful entrepreneur. This is by far not an exhaustive list, as there are countless factors involved in starting a business, but just some important things to consider before becoming the “new guy”.
1. Be passionate about what you are doing.
A pastor friend of mine once said “People don’t care how much you know, until they know you care”. How can you expect anyone to be excited about something that you are not excited about yourself? Running a business demands a large amount of time, energy and resources. Make sure that you are willing to devote these things with your whole heart.
2. Research, research, research.
Know who your competition will be, and how you can differentiate yourself. Know what area would be best served by the product(s) or service(s) you are offering. Is there a demographic target? What types of resources do you have compared to your competitors? Examine the things that could cause you to fail, so you will have more comfort in knowing that you can succeed.
3. What’s the plan?
Develop a business plan. A good business plan is worth its weight in gold (or financial support). This is your chance, sometimes your only chance, to impress potential investors with your vision. Make sure your mission statement is clear, and you have good support for your projected cash flows, typically for your first three to five years. Discuss in detail those items that should have been researched in the previous step. Without a clear picture of who you are and what you expect, your plan will amount to words on paper, and nothing else. There is a Bible verse that says “Where there is no vision, the people perish”. This is true of your business also.
4. There’s no “I” in “team”.
As much as we think we are able to do things on our own, most times this is not the case. There will be a need to surround yourself with a solid professional team. A good startup attorney will be helpful, along with an established CPA. They should be able to help you navigate all the legal and fiscal responsibilities involved in developing and running your business.
5. “Jane, stop this crazy thing”!
Have an exit plan. Have an idea of what your intentions will be for your business once it is established and profitable. Do you plan to sell it after 5 or 10 years? Will you be looking for more funding to grow it significantly after a certain period, or do you intend to keep your business relatively small in order to keep your quality of life fulfilling on a personal level? This is something that will need to be addressed.
As you work your way through preparations, fear not! There are many resources at your disposal. Publications such as Entrepreneur or Forbes can provide information, along with organizations such as the Small Business Administration (SBA). They can point you in the right direction. Whatever you choose to do, keep the faith, and people may start asking, “Hey, who’s that new guy in town?”
About MKS&H: McLean, Koehler, Sparks & Hammond (MKS&H) is a professional service firm with offices in Hunt Valley and Frederick. MKS&H helps owners and organizational leaders become more successful by putting complex financial data into truly meaningful context. But deeper than dollars and data, our focus is on developing an understanding of you, your culture and your business goals. This approach enables our clients to achieve their greatest potential.