September 21, 2014

Now Is The Best Time to Launch Your SMB

Best time to start businessIf you were waiting for the perfect time to break free from your cubicle and venture out to start your very own dream business, stop waiting. This is it.

That was the message given loud and clear during yesterday’s Just Start – Getting Your Business Started Right webinar moderated by John Jantsch with speakers Tim Berry, Rich Sloan and Ken Yancey Jr. And all the panelists agreed. There has never been a better time to become an entrepreneur.

Start your business…now?

It may not seem so smart to start a business in a down economy, but according to Tim, this is actually the best time to do it. Costs are lower, you can get better talent for less, and people are a lot more receptive to entrepreneurs because of the fragile state of things. And don’t tell anyone, but the economy is actually looking up. (Switch that. Tell everyone you know. We need good news.). But even if it wasn’t, starting a business “now” is almost always better than starting it “later”.

What kind of business should you start? The one that’s been sitting in your head for years and that keeps you up at night. Now’s your chance. People are more urgent and screaming their needs in an economy like this. They need to save money, to save time, etc. Everything is urgent. If you can build your business to cater to this amplified environment, then you’re going to position yourself very, very well. You’re also going to find resources and software that were never available before.

So, where do you start?

You start with your business plan. Don’t spent so much time writing the plan that you don’t actually launch the business, but do think it through. A business plan is valuable because when you’re an entrepreneur you need to become an expert, and creating that document forces you to become one. It’s also important that it act as a “living business plan”, meaning you’re constantly updating and tweaking it to reflect new knowledge. When you’re just starting out, you don’t know what you don’t know. Your initial business plan will always be fundamentally wrong. It’s your steering of that plan that will help you and give you your road map for the future.

If you’ve been putting off starting your business because you think you need that “brand new idea”, you don’t need it. Rich, in particular, mentioned 1800GotJunk, which is a multimillion dollar business based around collecting garbage. Not exactly a revolutionary concept, is it? No. But they were able to turn it into something successful.

Don’t make yourself think that whatever you want to do “can’t be done”. It absolutely can. The Internet has completely leveled the playing field for folks looking to start a business. So many things are more readily available and far less expensive today than they used to be. It takes hundreds of dollars to start a business, not tens of thousands.

What does it take to be an entrepreneur?

But let’s be real. Being an entrepreneur comes with an enviable amount of freedom and the ability to work whatever hours you want, but it also has its drawbacks. People need to be aware of the “dark side”. Tim shared that at one point in the progress of his company he had three mortgages on his house and $65,000 worth of credit card debt. That was hell and the result of poor planning. Passion alone won’t run your business. You need to have something that people want to buy or invest in. You have to work with people who have the same values as you and who want the same things. Rich noted that people should be aware of the 2x Factor, the rule that states everything will take twice as long and cost twice as much as you expected.

Being “a good Googler” will be an entrepreneur’s most valuable skill. There are so many resources out there to help you start your business that it’s really just a matter of finding them. For example, score.org will match you with a volunteer to help you start your business at no cost. Community.business.gov is also chocked full of tips. If you’re a women entrepreneur, there are sites dedicated especially to you. Find your network and identify communities of likeminded people. One of the most challenging things for entrepreneurs is the isolation that comes with wanting to do something on your own. By identifying networking groups, it allows you to share experiences and have someone to bounce ideas and frustrations off.

If you’ve always dreamed of that start that business, now is the time. Know what you want to do, create your plan, and align yourself with the folks who can help you. It’s exciting out there.

36 Comments ▼

Lisa Barone


Lisa Barone Lisa Barone is Vice President of Strategy at Overit, an Albany Web design and development firm where she serves on the senior staff overseeing the company’s marketing consulting, social media, and content divisions.

36 Reactions

  1. Lisa – you write the BEST articles (well next to Anita) I love how you tie the information from the panel into real, pragmatic action items.

    The best thing about starting your business NOW is that so many have given up and so many poor businesses have closed, that you actually have less competition.

    Another great thing about starting your business now is that the businesses that AREN’T making it are the ones that weren’t clear on the value. Open your eyes and your mind and take a critical look at what mistakes they made and learn from them.

  2. Ivana: That’s an excellent point. The rough state of things has really shaken up a lot of small businesses. If you can use them as case studies for what worked/didn’t work, there’s a lot of learning to come from that. Learning that you can then use to get your own company off on the right foot. You may also be able to identify holes that they left that your company can fill. Savvy. :)

  3. Great post.
    Sometimes it helps to read what others have learned who have gone down the path of starting companies. Here is a list of 100 things I have learned over 25 years of doing this:
    http://blogs.jobdig.com/wwds/2007/12/10/a-complete-list-of-100-attributes-off-people-who-start-companieshow-you-can-be-one-of-americas-entrepreneurs/#comment-116067

  4. Lisa,

    Inspirational reading! I have learned great lessons by starting a company together with some partners. And I will do it again, as I wrote in post, Five Lessons Learned from my Startup — And why I’d Do It Again, on Open Forum. (Click on “Martin Lindeskog” Says:) If you are curious what I am up to this time, stay in touch! :)

  5. Ivana’s right – less competition and the ability to learn from the mistakes of others and fulfill people’s needs better than they did.

    Besides, I think the days of job security with large companies and corporations is going by the wayside – you can only really ever count on yourself.

  6. This is very timely. Great Information and very glad to be a BIG part of helping you own your own business and have freedom to live the life of your dreams. The next BIG TREND is in the health and wealth industry. We are not only changing peoples lives with their health we are also helping to change your FINANCIAL FUTURE QUICKLY.

    To understand and see how you can earn and help big, view the compensation plan here and watch the 7 minute video: http://www.upYourpH.biz.

    To your phenomenal success and outrageous health!

  7. I also recommending going to your library and checking out Kawasaki’s “The Art of the Start.” Very practical, focused tactics.

  8. This is an excellent article for people considering starting a business. You make a very strong set of arguments why there are advantages despite what appears to be troubled times. Many baby boomers who want to be entrepreneurs can gain value from reading your post, but the message applies to prospective entrepreneurs of all ages.

    Shallie Bey
    Smarter Small Business Blog

  9. Small business history supports the idea behind this post. A recession has historically been a good time to start a business.

    Here’s a list of companies that started as 1 or 2 person companies in a major U.S. recession or depression in the past 136 years:

    * Federal Express – 1973 Oil Crisis

    * Fortune Magazine – 90 day after start of Great Depression

    * Coors Brewing Company – Depression of 1873 (20 yrs)

    * Price Club (aka Costco) – 1976

    * United Parcel Service – Economic Panic of 1907

    * Hewlett Packard – Great Depression

    * Domino’s Pizza – Recession of 1960

    * Charles Schwab – 1970’s Oil Crisis (and recession)

    * Walt Disney – Great Depression

    Why did these companies make it?

    In addition to getting great talent for less, the recession threw competitors off balance. Customers suddenly had new priorities driven by the recession that old competitors simply did not notice or could not adapt to meeting.

    This created a huge swath of customer problems in desperate need of a solution. Think about it.

    In your life, do the number of problems you have go up or down in a recession? For most, we got more headaches. A customer headache is the basis of every great business… and there’s no shortage of headaches to be solved in a recession.

    Victor Cheng
    Author
    The Recession-Proof Business:
    Lessons from the Greatest Recession Success Stories of All Time

  10. Victor Cheng,

    Interesting history lesson!

    Could I get your book, The Recession-Proof Business: Lessons from The Greatest Recession Success Stories of All Time, at a regular bookstore?

  11. This is a great time to launch a business. You will be in position to explode when the economy turns around.

  12. TODAY is always the day to start but just have to make sure everything is set especially ourselves. ;)

  13. Yeah Lisa for pointing this out. People are literally frozen with fear right now. Those who still have jobs are feeling like they have the Sword of Damocles hanging over their head. Those who have lost their jobs are too afraid to invest what little they have in a new business. You make many good points in your post, including the fact that costs are lower than ever and people are far more open. Bravo for listing the basic steps people need to take to get started.

  14. @Victor — great list and reminders of small to big, good to great!

  15. “…When you’re just starting out, you don’t know what you don’t know. Your initial business plan will always be fundamentally wrong. It’s your steering of that plan that will help you and give you your road map for the future…”

    This is so true! 6 months ago I wrote a comprehensive 42-page business plan for my business. Then 2 months ago I went back to edit it and at least 1 thing changed in every section. Even now, my marketing and development strategies are constantly changing. But without the business plan, no matter how much I am steering away from it, I would be lost. It’s weird, but I would definitely recommend writing one.

  16. Hello Lisa,
    Great job with your article setting up the discussion about entrepreneurship our favorite subject! Entrepreneurs, fired by their dreams and passions, have been the engine for creating new jobs, generating revenue, advancing innovation, enhancing productivity, and improving business models and processes. Entrepreneurship is the cornerstone of the free enterprise system around the world. In fact more than 460 million adults around the globe were engaged in some form of entrepreneurial activity.

    I wanted to share some of our most popular articles for entrepreneurs.

    What type of entrepreneur are you?
    http://blog.gcase.org/archives/69

    Are you ready to be the lead entrepreneur?
    http://blog.gcase.org/archives/84

    How do we manage during the tough times?
    http://blog.gcase.org/archives/112

    What are the cornerstones to entrepreneurial success?
    http://blog.gcase.org/archives/233

    Why do we need a business plan?
    http://blog.gcase.org/archives/89

    Founded in 1998, the Global Entrepreneurship Institute (GEI) is a non-profit 501(c) 3 educational organization with the specific mission of advising and educating entrepreneurs around the world. Working as a global business incubator GEI facilitates introductions to investors, professional service providers, and other entrepreneurs. We have helped entrepreneurs raise over $100 million.

    Dream It! Plan It! Do It!
    Robert W. Price
    Executive Director
    Global Entrepreneurship Institute
    http://www.gcase.org/

  17. Robert W. Price,

    I am glad to learn that you could find a global think tank for entrepreneurs. I am interested in discussing the concept of Entrepreneurial Capitalism with you. I like your guide “Are you thinking about starting a new business?”

  18. I agree – this is a great time to start a new small business. And for those small businesses who’ve hung on – particularly services businesses – it’s a great time to grow your market. Lots of the bigger companies have ‘downsized’ their service/admin departments (human resources, legal, marketing, accounting, and more): try selling the advantages of outsourcing to those businesses.

  19. Excellent blog,

    I do so agree with your comments above. There truly has never been a better time to start a new business venture.

    I have spent many years helping people get ideas off the ground and watched helplessly as my own ideas had been realised by other people. 7 years ago i finally took the plunge and began investing in myself by building a business around one of my ideas, I have continued building business out of new ideas ever since. Taking the first plunge is the hardest thing to do, weighing up your existing comfortable lifestyle with the risks of a self driven venture but passion will see you through. Once you answer yes to the following question you are ready to start ‘would you risk your home on the success of the idea ?’

    Best of luck to everybody who gains insparation from your article.

    Mike

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