So You Want to Start a Business?
Starting a new business can be scary and I've found myself jumping at every opportunity where I can get some extra help and guidance. This past Tuesday at the Like A Boss event at 3rd Ward, I've learned some tips and tricks to the trade from Philly's own young and successful entrepreneurs. It was not only inspirational to hear the panel's success stories but it left me nothing but pumped and ready to take charge. Lucky for those of you who weren't able to make it, I've jotted down pages and pages of useful information to share with you. Here goes!
- Don't be afraid to start up in a market that already exists. Your style and vision will set you apart from the competition naturally.
- There is no 1 formula that works for everyone and only you can tell when you are ready to jump the gun and freelance.
- When choosing a name and list of services for your business, think about how it will do in the next 5 years or so and be ready for change.
- When forging the bones of your business model, pitch the idea to your friends, family and professional contacts to see how the idea sits in the mind of a 3rd party individual looking from the outside in.
- Early on in the development process of your business, define your "WHY" because that will be the main thing that keeps you going when things get rough.
- You are creating an entirely new entity and therefore should establish its core values and culture to keep you on the path of your own voice.
- Do your research. Whether it's about the competition or just looking for some financial support, find out what is out there that can help or hurt your business.
- Know that sometimes you need to undersell your product and oversell your skills when building a portfolio.
- Take good care of your clients but don't be afraid to defend your business when a working relationship is starting to turn sour.
- Be your own boss but be aware of the type of boss that you are to your employees.
- It goes without saying that hiring friends and family is very tricky so proceed at your own risk.
- The A+ business model doesn't exist. Lose the perfectionist attitude and find an equilibrium in the ups and downs of your business.
- Be nice and honest. You will be surprised at how much a colleague or client will value that honesty and kindness and how it reflects on your work ethic.
- Enlist the help of an advisory board or business coach. Having an extra set of eyes to give you feedback can go a long way.
- When hiring employees, look for traits that you cannot teach them such as a great work ethic, positive attitude and willingness to learn. Anyone can be taught new skills but it's the traits they innately have in them that serve as the foundation of any future learning.
- Have a 1-year, 5-year and 10-year goal.
- And finally, protect yourself legally. You are now venturing into a realm where you no longer have a boss or agency to cover your faults. You are the face of your company and the work it produces. Make sure you are covered on all angles and negate the possibility of blind spots.
I'd have to admit that I am nowhere near thinking about the majority of the points I've mentioned. But what I know for sure is that time flies when you're doing something you truly love and it is wise to keep these ideas in the back of our minds. Feeling inspired yet?! Now go get sh*t done!
Special shout-out to our awesome panel for sharing their words of wisdom!
Antoinette Marie Johnson - Co-founder and CEO of At Media Gabe Mandujano - Founder and CEO of Wash Cycle Laundry Wil Reynolds - Founder of Seer Interactive Leo Voloshin - CEO of Printfresh Christopher Wink - Co-founder and Editor of Technically Philly
Photo by Richer Than Your Boss