Let me start with this confession – I’m not a millionaire. I’m not even a thousand-aire. My business makes money and no I haven’t seen any of it. Read on to see why.
I eventually want to quit my day job. I want the American dream of being my own boss. However, there is not checklist on how to start and maintain a business that you want to run…there are too many variables, so here are some tips to ease the speed-bumps and frustrations along the way that I’ve run into. Hopefully they help you out if you plan on taking the route of the small business owner.
9 – Get a business plan
What’ll happen when you move into a new property, get all your product stocked and find out you can’t sell what you want because you forgot about liability insurance and inspections? Yep, better to run into those situations when coming up with a business plan rather than sitting depressed in your new store contemplating burning it down for insurance mone…oh yea…didn’t plan on that…double screwed.
8-There’s an order to things
My biggest issue when starting out was knowing where to start out. If you don’t know what you should do first or how to do it, go to your city hall and find the business licensing/permit department. They’re usually very friendly and will point you in the right direction and give you an order to things. If it’s still complicated, write the steps down in outline format and then get started on the footwork.
7 – A Lease can be your best friend or a royal pain in the ass
If your plan is to lease a property for your business, keep in mind that the property owners are more or less paying for and empty piece of space until someone moves in. A lot of times they’re very anxious to get someone in there and get them under contract. So much so, that if you have an idea for a layout, they’ll tear down walls or put them up, change the carpet, paint it etc to get you underway.
In doing so, the landlord will give you lease terms. Don’t be afraid to tell them you don’t like the terms and you’d like an adjustment that fits your needs. For instance, my first lease was set for 6 months and I was responsible for all internal changes to the property as any internal damages that were incurred by me. It was a gross commercial lease and presented to me days after I looked at the property.
I had the landlord re-do the lease to where he sprayed for bugs (solely because I saw a black widow in the corner), put up a wall and painted the interior. I had him change the lease to a month to month with no initial security deposit in exchange for a table for him, made by us. He accepted and had the contract back the next day.
The point being, a lease is a contract that determines your foreseeable future. Stand up, get what you want, and if you don’t like it, walk away. Also, learn the difference between gross commercial, NNN, and modified net leases.
6 – Stay organized from the start
Your business can get out of control and extremely fast if you fall behind. After all your paperwork and filings and articles of organization (see #8), it’s very easy to misplace something you’ll need later. File early, and file often. Back-up your electronic files and keep hard copies.
5 It gets hectic very quickly
In case #6 didn’t give it away, your business, whether successful or not, will be very time consuming, very hectic and keep you up at night. My business began taking time from my family and turned a passion into an obsession. I was getting up in the middle of the night to write down new ideas, or I’d doze off only to wake-up in nightmare-ish fashion thinking I missed an order.
You’ll have some time off…even if it’s and hour here and there – make the best of of it and take deep breaths when you got a moment.
4 – Use others to grow
Between my business and my day job and without exaggeration, I work about 70 hours per week if not a few more. There is no way I’m able to take care of every aspect of my small business with any degree of confidence that I’d be happy with.
Luckily, my wife has a MBA in Business, I have an AS/AA in Communication and English and my business partner has his BS in Accounting. I call that an all-star lineup and I also call it being very lucky.
If you have friends and family, use their skills. If you’re not good at accounting or marketing, get someone that is. With how busy you will be, you’ll have a high chance of mistakes if you take it all on by yourself. In the beginning stages, some people will help you out just for something to do or even pizza and beers (that’s how I got my shop cleaned up). Know however, that it’s a fine line between asking for a little help and tasking your friends and family.
3 – You’ll be poor…possibly for years
I liken business to a baby. You have to feed it and care for it and get some sleep whenever it allows you to and it’ll eventually grown into a little rebellious teenager that will give you problems until it turns into an adult, spreads its wings and self-supports…eventually turning into an NFL QB and begins supporting you (hey, I can dream). It can’t do all that without food, and your income is your business’ food. Ween it to adulthood, then enjoy the point when it plays for the Chiefs and supports you
..so to speak.
2 – If it isn’t your passion, you’ll end up hating it
They say that anything without moderation is bad for you. What they don’t tell you, is that if you’re around something all the time, you’ll be a lot more patient with it if you love it. Again it’s a lot of work.
1 – You’ll have to quit
It’s very easy to work a corporate job and enjoy that security of benefits and a steady paycheck. Some people can open up a business and have great success and confidently quit their day job with no worries.
..most people can’t. That being said, you’ll eventually have to quit your job and run your business. It’s a sense of freedom, fear, anxiety and excitement. If you played your cards right you should have a confident transition. Just make sure you played your cards right, analyzed your forecasts and take a deep breath.