[YWH S1E17] Joe's Journey: A New Business from Scratch, Part I
I often joke that I had kids just so I could keep watching cartoons. To this day some of my favorite movies are animated. Long after my kids have grown up and moved out, I guarantee I’ll still be in theaters watching the latest animated films. Believe it or not, there are lessons to be learned from these movies. Two of my favorite quotes are: “See a need, fill a need” from Robots, and “Keep moving forward” from Meet the Robinsons. Both truly embody two of the most fundamental elements in business. Find your buyer by filling a need. If you think something would be useful, or better with modifications, chances are others will agree. Once you identify a need, keep moving forward by remaining positive, passionate and motivated. Never give up as failure leads to success. How many prototypes of the plane, automobile, and cell phone had to be produced before the final product hit the market? We all have to crawl before we run.
When I was in school there was nothing I hated more than homework. Seven hours of classes and I had to do more at home, c’mon! However, “homework” in the form of research when you have an idea for a business can be a lot of fun. Transforming an idea into reality starts with research. Who is your competition? What is the expected growth of the industry? Who and where are your buyers? How much should you charge for your product or service? What is the best way to fund the project? How much is a physical space going to cost? Should you lease or purchase space and equipment? What type of insurance will be needed? What type of documentation needs to be completed and filed? As you move through each of these steps you will begin to transform that idea into something tangible, and that’s fun.
Whether you’ve been in business your whole life or just starting out, having someone in your corner that you trust is vital. The Small Business Development Center (SBDC) is a phenomenal resource when it comes to a trusted advisor. Once you’ve done your research and you’re ready to put your business to paper, the SBDC can help you write the business plan and create a sound proforma that you can present to an investor or traditional lending source. Another great resource is Score, who can partner you with a mentor that is knowledgeable in all stages of the business cycle. Both of these resources are free, so take advantage of the opportunity as you move one step closer to business ownership.
Two of the largest obstacles in starting a business are fear and capital. FDR stated: “The only thing we have to fear is, fear itself”. Fear and lack of confidence will bring your plans for a new business to a screeching halt. Your fight or flight response kicks in when you face the unknown or start to experience difficulties along the way. We might not be running from saber-toothed tigers anymore, but the instinct to run is still ingrained within us. Shift your mindset and focus on the positive aspects of the business plan and proforma. Focusing on the tangible will help you stay in the fight. As for capital, get creative. Research your family tree for that wealthy relative. Get to know all the parents that are part of your kid's playgroups, one of them just might be in a position to partner with you. Join local business groups designed to bring like-minded individuals together from different industries. Look around and see where other business owners in your community hang out, such as Country Clubs or certain restaurants for lunch. Talk about your business idea with passion and confidence when you’re around potential investors, and when applicable, get a non-disclosure agreement in place when you’re ready to sit down and discuss the nitty-gritty details with those that are interested. You never know who will take notice and gain interest in your idea, so be prepared.
Starting a business isn’t easy, if it were, we’d all do it. But never count yourself out. Do your research, put a solid business plan in place with a realistic proforma, then find yourself a trustworthy committed investor, or group of investors, to partner with. Just remember, it takes two to tango, so don’t dance alone.