By Adam Simpson, CEO of Easy Office Phone
As an entrepreneur, it’s important to think about the big picture. But often times, it’s the small things that can throw a curve ball to growing a business. There are obvious factors that entrepreneurs need to consider, including goals, competitors, sales, etc. However, it’s more than just knowing what to do – it’s about doing.
The following are six things that entrepreneurs should do when starting a business:
1.Think about the end. So, you’re up and running with a proven concept? Terrific. Solid revenues? Fantastic. But start preparing now to scale your business with a proper exit strategy. It may seem odd to be thinking about the end game at an early stage, but you need to learn to view your business as a product that will eventually be offered on the market. The key question then becomes: how attractive is this product? The most attractive businesses are built for scale and speed. Ask yourself specific questions such as: Have I picked vendors that can respond well to a surge in volume? Is my technical support team on top of our current client load, or are they already stretched to the breaking point?
2.Balance startup capital with care. Startup funding is a delicate balancing act. Many business owners either don’t realize how much they will actually need, or they seek the wrong partners and accept funding terms that shouldn’t be considered acceptable. It’s similar to waterskiing – go too slow and you’ll sink, but go too fast and you’ll give up too much control and get into trouble quickly. Decide now what terms you are willing to accept, do the hard math to determine what you’ll likely need, add a safety margin, and then start talking to potential investors. Never approach this step backwards, which is to go out in the world seeking capital and then see what terms you can get. When you find the right fit for your startup funding, they’ll seem like partners because they’ll bring a lot more to the table than money – they’ll have experience, contacts and expertise you can draw on to succeed.
3.Decide where and on what you will spend your time. Time and focus are your most valuable resources, and they are non-renewable. You simply cannot do or even stay involved in everything, so relinquishing some control is key. If you’re a new entrepreneur, this may be hard for you. Deal with it. Make your choices now as to what fits your specific skillset and warrants your time. This could be: building an outstanding sales team; leading a group of developers toward an exciting product launch; or directing the development of efficient internal processes and systems. The rest must be delegated so you can keep your focus… and your sanity.
4.Zoom out, and do it regularly. Every so often – perhaps weekly, biweekly, but the key is regularly – tune out from the daily grind and break free to see the high-level view. It’s important to occasionally remove yourself from the battlefield and put yourself in a place where you can think like a general. Take a good look at the whole map and how well your company (pun intended) is advancing toward the objectives. Remember, being hands-on and in the trenches with your colleagues is admirable, but as a leader, you can’t spend all your time there.
5.Hire based on fit, not affordability. Always choose the best people you can – those who add value to the organization as a whole. The worst thing you can do is pick someone with less experience simply because they are cost-effective. A good entrepreneur surrounds him/herself with enthusiastic people who share your vision. Don’t be afraid to look to other organizations or verticals in your industry for skilled staff. If you cannot attract the best people because of capital limitations, then find other ways to attract them. For example, an enjoyable corporate culture or the opportunity to be part of something big can be very appealing. Set monetary rewards linked to specific goals or targets, rather than offering a big salary upfront.
6.Accept that you are different and be OK with it. Let’s face it – if you’re like most entrepreneurs, you have some fairly unique traits. You are driven, at least on some level, by insecurity and a need to prove yourself. Your energy levels can be absolutely unbelievable. Your highs are stratospheric and your lows abyssal. When you’re energized and optimistic, you find yourself so excited that you have trouble focusing on just one aspect of your business at a time. Do any of these sound familiar? If so, you probably have “entrepreneur’s disease,” which is a good thing. Several studies have indicated that conditions typically considered “problematic” in early schooling – such as ADD, bouts of manic-depressive behavior and trouble connecting with others – could, in some cases, be early indicators of a predisposition to become an entrepreneur. Realize that you are different, and embrace it. You don’t have a condition, but rather, a rare gift.
By implementing these tips into your business approach, you’ll be better prepared for those curve balls when starting your business venture.
About the Author:
Adam Simpson is the CEO and co-founder of Easy Office Phone where he oversees the creation of new sales channels including a North American Dealer Program, plays a leading role in software development, manages the company’s network infrastructure, and builds dedicated teams of sales, support and engineering staff. Under Simpson’s leadership, Easy Office Phone has grown rapidly and steadily into a highly respected provider of Hosted PBX service to clients throughout Canada and North America since its launch in 2005.
Prior to Easy Office Phone, Simpson entered the Internet startup market as a young, serial entrepreneur at the age of 18, and co-founded web advertising firm Click2Net in 1998. Within two years, Simpson grew the company to 35 employees and $15 million in revenue.
After exiting the business in 2001, Simpson returned to school, earning his MBA and Honours Commerce from McMaster University, all the while pursuing new business ventures across the technology landscape.