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.