Starting a Company? Consider working for someone else first… ?

Check out this post: 10 Reasons Every Recruiter Must Start With an Agency.

In this post Will Thomson is telling about his road to becoming a recruiter and the invaluable experience he had working at a staffing agency.  It sounds similar to the experience I had working as an intern.  For me, the pay was relatively low but the experience was amazing.

Maybe the best route for your own business is not to jump in headfirst, but to get some solid experience and mentoring by working at another company first. Will’s post is an excellent testimonial of that.


Cash Flow vs. Profit

cash_money_billsIn business school I remember finally understanding the difference between, and importance of, cash flow vs. profit.

I had been conditioned, probably because of news reports and other consumption, that business success is all about profit.

But I learned in school that a company could be profitable, even highly profitable, and still fail.

If you don’t have CASH you lose (eventually). Period.

Check out this post on LinkedIn from James Caan on cash flow.

James Caan: Top five tips for starting your own business

This is a “blog post” on LinkedIn.  It’s a new feature I still need to blog about on my LinkedIn blog.

James Caan is one of the few invited to blog, and he shares five tips for starting your own business, including:

  1. Be brutally honest with yourself.
  2. Have confidence in yourself AND listen to other people’s advice and ideas.
  3. Do your homework (no blind faith).
  4. Unique value proposition vs… “the real key,” which is to be faster, better, cheaper and more convenient than your competition.
  5. Stay focused on the business, not on trivial things.

This is a great read… James goes into more detail on each one.  Check out the original post.

Tim Ferris and Chad Etzel on selling and startups (they are HARD)

One thing I don’t want to do with my book is make people think starting up a new business is nothing but fun and exciting and success and money and freedom.

It is not.

There is a lot of work.

Take for example the person who starts up a dog walking business.  While it can be a full-time business and an alternative to a real (ie, cubicle) job, it will take lots of WORK to be successful.

My position, though, is that if you are going to work hard, why not do it for yourself?

Anyway, here are two excellent reads for you:

Tim Ferriss, who I could read all day long: Always Be Closing: Y Combinator and The Art of the Pitch

Chad Etzel, who I learned about through Tim’s post: Startups Are Hard (this should be required reading… as well as the comments on the post, for anyone wanting to start a business).

What is the scariest thing about starting (or thinking about starting) a business?

I asked this question on LinkedIn and have over 20 responses.  It’s a great question, and there are some amazing responses.

Click here to see the responses.  It sounds like most people answering have taken the plunge, and are speaking from experience.

What is the scariest thing about starting (or thinking about starting) a business?

One of my favorite responses is from Patrick Stultz:

“How do I get completely prepared? How do I know this is for me? Follow the great Clark Howards advice. If you want to open a Subway – become a manager at a subway first. Do you want to open a consulting business? Work for a company in that field. Think of it as a career test and on the job training.”

Great advice…. it’s all great advice. Go read the original question page, with the responses.

51 Alternatives & Sound Money Management: The Simple Dollar

If you are interested in alternatives to a real job, you are interested in your money.

One of the best and funnest blogs to read is The Simple Dollar by Trent Hamm.  This guy is a trip.  He tries to figure out how to live with the least amount of money.

He’s not opposed to money, of course, but the key is to spend less than what you have.

The Simple Dollar helps you figure out how you to do that.

If you are on the path to “escaping the cubicle nation,” as Pam Slim would say, you should become a student of Trent Hamm.  You might not like everything he suggests, but it’s a great start to thinking differently about the value of YOUR dollar.

51 Alternatives: Painting Numbers on Curbs

Aside from my normal job stuff, this is the first entrepreneurial test I did. I bought a curb painting kit, which included number and design templates, and lots of spray paint. I got a permit to go door-to-door, and took some kids with me to practice.

It was pretty cool to get the business we got. I think we painted about 30 curbs, although I don’t remember.  At one point we were making between $40 and $60 an hour.  It was fun with my kids, it was fun to meet neighbors, it was fun making some easy money, and it’s still fun to drive by the curbs I painted and see how good they look.

It wasn’t all peaches, though.  One night we went out and got no sales.  That sucked.

One time I was painting a curb and the sprinklers came on, so I couldn’t finish just then.

Another time I was painting and the neighbor’s sprinklers came on, which also caused a problem.

My kids got bored after a while, and they stopped wanting to go out (even though they were making money).

After a while I got busy with family responsibilities, and I had some business stuff to take care of with my day job, and I kind of put up the tools.

But heck, $40 – $60 an hour… that’s good money!

In the comments on this page you can see someone said they made 80k a year painting curbs!  Crazy!

Why Small Businesses Fail, Hurt and Suffer

This morning I was talking to a career professional (solopreneur) who asked me how others in the industry are doing in this economy.  You would think a sour economy and lots of layoffs and unemployment would be good for their business, but that’s not necessarily true.  People are tighter with their money, more cautious on their purchases, and more inclined to DIY.

I shared two observations I’ve had over the years as I’ve seen small businesses start, thrive, fail, stumble along, etc.  There are two things I consistently see with this type of industry, but it could very well apply to your business or your industry.

First, too many solorpreneurs underprice their services. One of my favorite comments after an industry conference is “I’m going to raise my prices!”  I don’t hear “I’m going to gouge my customers!”  What I hear is “I’ve been undervaluing what I bring to the table, charging wrong, and I now see that I can and should fix it.”

I think the biggest problem is people charge for an outcome based on the number of hours it will take to deliver it. They are in an “hourly” billing mode, without regard to the VALUE of the outcome.  Don’t get stuck in an hourly billing mode… think about your VALUE.

Second, many solopreneurs don’t understand how to get new clients, and keep a healthy pipeline. Really busy right now with clients?  What if it all dries up, and your prospects all say no?  Keep a pipeline full… be creative, get in front of your prospects, help evangelists talk about your stuff.

No one is every so busy that they can afford to stop marketing.  Maybe they change their marketing techniques, or they put in systems to manage high demand, but don’t stop marketing. Ever.

Think about it… does this apply to your business?