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Advice to Ignore when Starting a Business

Jul 1st, 2014

Anyone who has ever contemplated starting their own business knows that there is no shortage of advice for entrepreneurs who are planning to hang out the “in business” sign. The SBA has posted on their website a list of the top 20 questions that every entrepreneur should ask before starting a business.

However, with all of the words of wisdom, is there any advice can you ignore before hanging out your shingle?

Write a detailed business plan
As Jack Hess, creator of Pitch then Plan said, “Many entrepreneurs try to perfect their business plan and then create a PowerPoint. This is backwards thinking. Your pitch is more important than your plan as it will determine if you are rejected or generate further interest.” ISBDC clients have access to SmallBizU’s Pitch then Plan, a powerful tool that helps them get moving on their idea without getting bogged down in the details. Get your pitch perfected and the plan will follow.

The customer is always right
While the goal of business owners is to make money, it’s important to evaluate the ROI for each of your customers at least annually. Business owners need to know how much each client contributes to the bottom line and how much it costs to service them. If the cost is greater than the return, it might be time to “fire” the customer.  If it’s not profitable business, it’s not worth keeping them as a customer.

Protect you IP by operating under the radar
Some of our clients are concerned that, if they talk about their business model, someone will steal it. They are reluctant to share their ideas with the people who can help them refine the model and eventually become part of their customer base or a referral source. We encourage people to get frequent feedback from potential users as they are developing their business model. Solid execution will eliminate any potential copy cats.

Think Big and focus on the goal
When you start small you build the capacity to do the work. By starting small and going slowly, you create a system that will sustain your company and culture as it develops. Your goal is to start or grow your business; your system is comprised of processes that allow you to do that. A well constructed system helps you achieve your goals. Thinking big might provide the direction, but it’s the small steps you take in creating your system that gets you there.

Embrace Failure
The Silicon Valley crowd gets very excited about failure and encourages entrepreneurs to embrace their failure. Failure is, admittedly, part of growing. And, as you are doing new things, some will not turn out as planned. However, as Seth Godin points out, “failure is a cost you pay on the way to being right. So, look at your failures as data accumulated on the way to finding the right answer, not as a badge of honor.