The days of retiring from a company after 40 years with a pension and a gold watch are dead and buried. Today’s worker will likely spend his career with several different companies in pursuit of upward mobility. More significant, though, is the number of people who choose to strike out on their own.
Entrepreneurship in this country has never been stronger. More than 11.5 million Americans are currently working for themselves with more than 500,000 companies being launched each month. While this independence has long been considered a major component of the American dream, it’s possible that the economic uncertainty of the last few years has resulted in more people choosing their own employment, either out of choice or necessity.
Are you one of these adventurous spirits who has taken the plunge? Perhaps you’re in the process of weighing your options or looking to move to the next level. Whether you venture into manufacturing, technology or service, there are basic elements that all businesses have in common. Running a start-up is difficult enough, so manage some of the stress by learning from those who have traveled this road before you.
Here are 10 commandments, if you will, for business start-ups. Take these tips and apply them to your situation and blaze your own trail.
1. Do what you love. There’s a good reason this simple but powerful concept is first on the list. If your business isn’t personally meaningful to you, your focus will wane no matter how lucrative it might be. We’ve all heard the stories of people giving up six-figure incomes to teach or do volunteer work. Be sure you’re sacrificing your time and energy for something you enjoy.
2. Cultivate a network of other entrepreneurs. Water seeks its own level. If you associate with people who are skeptical and negative, eventually you will be too. There are numerous professional organizations you can join, both industry-specific and general. You’ll find that veteran business owners are supportive of newcomers and generous with their wisdom.
3. Allow your employees to let their lights shine. Everyone has their own strengths and weaknesses. Encourage your employees to contribute based on their unique talents rather than forcing them into a slot. For instance, successful salespeople are often put into management where they end up languishing. Not every skill set translates to every position. People will be happier and more productive when they enjoy what they’re doing.
4. Be honest about your weaknesses. A successful businessperson will freely admit he doesn’t have all the answers. What sets him above the unsuccessful ones is the savvy to hire people who fill in the blanks. You won’t get anywhere by bringing in clones of yourself. Put your ego aside and focus on what’s best for your business.
5. Get everything in writing. While this is vitally important for the legal nuts-and-bolts of your company’s structure, it should apply to everything from employment agreements to meeting notes. You don’t want the operation of your start-up to rise or fall on one person’s faulty memory, especially your own.
6. Take on a partner only when it’s absolutely necessary. In the first blush of excitement during a start-up, it may seem like a great idea to bring in your friends and family. But when the cold light of reality sets in, you’ll realize how counterproductive this is. You’re running a business, not a social club. Leave emotions out of decision-making.
7. Don’t neglect your health. Yes, there’s no getting around the fact that there are going to be plenty of long hours and fast-food involved, especially in the beginning. But you won’t do yourself any favors by getting so run-down that you can’t function. If you can’t get to a gym, you can certainly squeeze in a 15 to 20 minute walk. Keep a mini-fridge on hand to stock with fruits, veggies and other healthy foods. Limit the coffee and drink water instead.
8. Follow a schedule. While freedom is part of the appeal of running your own business, that doesn’t mean you can abandon professional habits. Set regular working hours and plan an agenda for each day.
9. Know where your money is going. It’s fine to hire an expert to handle the finances, but that doesn’t mean you wash your hands of that aspect. Losing track of your funds is a sure route to losing control of your business.
10. Keep your moral compass pointed in the right direction. Stories of people who have sacrificed their souls in pursuit of cash are the stuff of legends, or at least big-budget movies. If you cut corners and compromise your morals, you’ll never truly enjoy your success. Make sure you’re able to sleep soundly when your head hits the pillow.
When your business stocking and shipping needs move to needing more than your basement it’s time to think about hiring a fulfillment service. Medallion Fulfillment and Logistics is here to help you make the transition to the next level. We invite you to visit our website to find out more about how we can help your business grow.