In almost every Radical Mentoring group, there’s a guy who wants to start his own business. I’ve helped a couple get going successfully but have also talked several off the ledge. So this post may shock you after my recent post when I said you have to own something to become wealthy. There’s a lot to consider when you launch out on your own. I’m all about starting your own deal, but there’s a bunch of landmines. Let me share a few I’ve seen (and a couple I’ve stepped on!) . . .
- Don’t just go with the best idea – We get in a hurry watching others succeed. We think “I should be doing that” so we start coming up with ideas. We pick the best one and here we go. We did this during the internet craze in the 90’s. Everything was going to the web. We picked the best idea we could come up with, raised money and launched a venture called Fitability. We returned 9 cents per dollar to the investors. Ugh! We should have waited for the idea, not just the ‘prettiest dog in the pound.’ If an opportunity seems too good to be true, it probably is. Do your homework, take your time, seek lots of input and pray. A lot.
- Don’t start with a location – When I saw the building pictured above . . . sitting on Main Street in a growing small town, I started thinking “That place has potential. Bet you could get it for next to nothing! What could go in there and succeed?” Wrong question. Start with your core competency and your domain expertise. Then figure out locations, offices and such. Most great startups start with a customer, not with your whiteboard. What customer need could you meet? Is it a felt need? Is it a ‘nice to have’ or a ‘must have’? Is it a market that’s buying? Growing? Thriving? or contracting, shrinking or restructuring? There’s opportunities in either direction, but you need to be sure you understand the trend and sail with it, not into it.
- Don’t start without the end in mind – Issues surface when things go badly and when they go swimmingly. It’s often the first time guys read the agreements they’ve signed. If one founder wants to build a company and run it for life while another wants to build it and sell it, there’ll be problems down the road. Flesh all this out before you write any checks.
- Don’t go it alone – Even if you could, it’s better to team up with someone to start your first business. Remember the African proverb, “If you want to go fast, go alone. If you want to go far, go together.” But choose carefully . . . beliefs, values, integrity are key. Again, domain expertise and core competencies that balance yours give you a leg up. Starting a business with someone is a lot like marriage . . . be sure you’re ‘equally yoked.’ I’ll work for non-believers, I’ll hire non-believers. But I won’t share ownership or authority with anyone who doesn’t know and follow Jesus.
There’s more. Check back on Monday for more challenges that come with starting your own gig.
Have your own landmines? Comment here.