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SERIES: Lessons Learned While Starting A Small Business – Part 4

Welcome to the latest series on JosephSangl.com – Lessons Learned While Starting A Small Business.   Starting a small business can be tremendously exciting and frightening at the same time.   One of the most common trends that we see among small business owners is that they are very good at providing their product or service, but they are not so skilled at the business side of doing business.   This series will focus on some of the key lessons we have learned from meeting with many small business owners as well as truths we have learned as we have built a small business.

Part Four – Growing a business without debt requires great amounts of patience.

There are many costs associated with starting a small business, and it is very enticing to use debt to pay for them.   I have made a commitment, however, to grow my business without any debt.   I believe that I could certainly grow a business faster by using debt, but I also know that it can be harder to sleep at night when one has signed up for a tremendous amount of debt.   In my personal budget, I have found that our commitment to live without incurring debt causes us to seek out better deals, save money more consistently, and simplifies our lives by reducing financial stress.   I have discovered that this is also true with the business.

I must say that I have been tempted to obtain debt – on more than one occasion.   But each time I consider doing so, something about my past experiences with debt causes me to pause and consider why I want to obtain debt.   It forces me to ask myself this question, “Is this expense really necessary and is there another solution that would allow us to avoid debt?”       To this point, we have always found a way to avoid debt.   Sometimes it has meant that we have to press the “pause” button on a project (that stinks!).   Other times, it has meant that we have discovered an amazingly better alternative solution!

One of our fundamental business principles we operate by is this:   If we operate with cash in the bank and zero debt, we will have a sustainable business that will impact millions of people – and our team will be able to sleep at night without piles of debt hanging over us!

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SERIES: Lessons Learned While Starting A Small Business – Part 3

Welcome to the latest series on JosephSangl.com – “Lessons Learned While Starting A Small Business”.   Starting a small business can be tremendously exciting and frightening at the same time.   One of the most common trends that we see among small business owners is that they are very good at providing their product or service, but they are not so skilled at the “business side” of doing business.   This series will focus on some of the key lessons we have learned from meeting with many small business owners as well as truths we have learned as we have built a small business.

Part Three – Risk is part of the game.

It is risky to start a business.   You could immerse yourself into the business spending unbelievable amounts of money and time, and the entire venture could still fail.   You could leave a great career where income and job security seems to be a given.   It is a risk.   If you want to play it safe, have at it, but please do not start a business.   It will lead to a bad case of fear, panic, and frustration.

When you start a business, you are putting your reputation on the line.   People who have trusted you in your old business will put their trust in your new business, and you could risk a friendship if the quality of your product or service is low.

I have found that risk is inherent in anything I do.   It is even risky to stand still and do nothing.   It has required a great deal of effort, but I have learned to embrace risk and the unknown.   Please note that I stated that I have “learned” to do this.   It is not a natural thing for me to do.   For example, I want to hold on to our cash instead of invest it in a new product or service we are thinking of offering – because the potential of that new product/service is unknown.   But it is too risky to stand around and not generate our next new product.   It will prevent us from growing and stagnate us from achieving our mission “to help others accomplish far more than they ever thought possible.”

Risk is part of the game.   If we fail, we fail.   We will do an autopsy on the failure, find out what went wrong, and then pick up the remnants start on the next project.

Bottom-Line:   Risk is part of the deal.   Learn to embrace it.

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SERIES: Lessons Learned While Starting A Small Business – Part 2

Welcome to the latest series on JosephSangl.com – “Lessons Learned While Starting A Small Business”.   Starting a small business can be tremendously exciting and frightening at the same time.   One of the most common trends that we see among small business owners is that they are very good at providing their product or service, but they are not so skilled at the “business side” of doing business.   This series will focus on some of the key lessons we have learned from meeting with many small business owners as well as truths we have learned as we have built a small business.

Part Two – You have a much greater chance of success if you have a great product/service.

This seems almost too fundamental to even write, but you would be surprised at the number of people who forget this.   You can do great construction work, but it is worthless if you fail to show up when you say you will.   If you are selling a new computer device (one that calls your cell phone and also sends a text message when your freezer has stopped working), you will not receive repeat orders if it does not send the message when the freezer actually fails.   Great products and services generate one key thing that we can not generate on our own – positive word-of-mouth press.   When others tell others about their awesome experience with your product, you have a great chance at succeeding.

Here are some good questions to ask about your product/service:

  • What makes our product/service better than our competitors?
  • How are customers finding out about our product/service?
  • How can we leverage positive customer feedback to reach more potential customers?
  • What is one thing we can do right away to take our product/service to the next level?

Bottom-Line: Great products/services vastly improve the chances for business success.

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SERIES: Lessons Learned While Starting A Small Business – Part 1

Welcome to the latest series on JosephSangl.com – “Lessons Learned While Starting A Small Business”.   Starting a small business can be tremendously exciting and frightening at the same time.   One of the most common trends that we see among small business owners is that they are very good at providing their product or service, but they are not so skilled at the “business side” of doing business.   This series will focus on some of the key lessons we have learned from meeting with many small business owners as well as truths we have learned as we have built a small business.

Part One – Starting a business will cost more than you think.

If you believe that you will start a business without it costing you anything, you are living in a fairy tale.   It is going to cost you money.   It will cost you time.   It will cost you hobbies.   It can even cost you relationships.   Starting a small business is not for sissies.   It requires great resolve, passion, focus, money, tremendous effort, patience and time.

Money Dr. John C. Maxwell states in his book, Put Your Dream To The Test, that your dream will cost you, and it will cost you more than once.   Start-up costs alone can cripple a new business from the start.   Legally organizing the business costs money.   Office supplies and equipment cost money.   Office space costs money.   If you are not willing to put your own money into the business, don’t expect anyone else to invest in it either.   Take the amount of money you think it will take to successfully start your business and double it.   You will be close to the amount you will really need.   Your business is going to cost you money.

Time If you are pursuing a dream, it will consume large amounts of time.   It will rob you of sleep.   You will quite possibly stare at the ceiling for hours throughout the night as you think through the countless opportunities that lie in front of you or the enormous costs coming up that the bank account can’t cover.   In the book, The E-Myth (I reviewed it HERE) , Michael Gerber challenges a small business owner to draw up the organizational chart for all of the positions necessary to make the dream become reality.   The next step is to put a name in each position.   If there is no employee for the position you have written down, then your name is to be entered there because you will be the one doing that task until someone is hired to do it!   Talk about intimidating!   I discovered that I am the CEO, resource development, HR, shipping clerk, travel agent, and janitor all at the same time!   No wonder I was tired!   Your business is going to cost you time.

Hobbies If you want to start a small business and still maintain a great family life, some hobbies will have to take a back seat.   I love golfing, but golfing loses out right now.   I can’t afford five hours away from family and the business once or twice a week.   I love fishing.   I have greatly reduced the time spent with this hobby.   When I do go fishing, I bring along my daughter to maximize that time.   You will not have to say goodbye to your favorite hobbies forever, but they might have to be moved down the priority list while launching your small business.

Bottom Line: Launching a small business will cost you.

Your thoughts?   Small business owners – I would love to get your thoughts into the conversation – share them in the comments section.

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