Start: How to get your business underway
April 2008, Capstone
* Start with the idea. What is it and how will it realise your ambitions?What is the long-term plan? If you don't know where you are going then you won't get there.
* Simplicity is the key. Don't overcomplicate things so that the idea is pecked to death by ducks. If you can write it on a postcard and explain it to your mum, then you can get started.
* Make clear plans. Draw up One-page business and personal plans to work out what you want in the simplest and clearest possible way.
* Decide what you want. Flush out whether you are building to sell, or just want the business to fund your lifestyle, then take the leap of faith and get it underway. Work hard, but don't confuse being busy with being effective.
* Learn from experience. Realise when you are gaining speed but losing altitude, and have the courage to change things when they aren't working well.
All vital stuff, packaged and presented in a way that will help you put it into practice right away. So what are you waiting for? It's time to Start.
1. STARTING FROM SCRATCH.
1 Ignore everyone else, what do you want to do?
2 Reasons for starting a business.
3 I hated my boss.
4 Couldn’t stand the politics.
5 Frustration with current job.
6 Got fired or made redundant.
7 I am, or I became, unemployable.
8 Convinced there must be a better way.
9 Wanted to be my own boss or have more control.
10 The chance to use my brain for my own benefit.
11 Run my life as I want.
12 Life changes everything.
13 Wanted to take a risk.
14 Always wanted to.
15 Wanted the challenge.
16 Wanted to create my own dream job.
17 Spotted an opportunity.
18 Had a safety net.
19 Wanted to make a lot of money.
20 A combination of fear and ambition.
21 What are you really passionate about in life?
22 How going to work could be like going to play.
23 What exactly is the idea?
24 What will your business be?
25 Why do they need you?
26 Will that make money?
27 Poor plan, brilliantly executed.
28 Some things to consider.
29 What’s in a name?
30 Guts, heart or head?
31 In the mood for change?
32 Chapter 1 checklist.
2. PECKED TO DEATH BY DUCKS.
1 Why the rough shape will do.
2 Envelopes, fag packets and postcards.
3 Why almost is more than enough.
4 Progress not perfection.
5 Beware spreadsheets.
6 The one-page business plan.
7 Step 1: How much do I want to earn each year?
8 Step 2: A realistic expenditure per customer/visit/transaction/project.
9 Step 3: A realistic number of customers/visits/transactions/projects.
10 Step 4: How much money will this frequency generate?
11 Step 5: Deduct all costs.
12 Step 6: If it doesn’t work, change something.
13 Boiler installation example.
14 How much money do I really want?
15 What’s the proposition?
16 Describe it to your mum.
17 Beware the context.
18 Big or bold?
19 Small is good.
20 So is it a goer then?
21 Chapter 2 checklist.
3. LIFESTYLE OR BUILD-TO-SELL?
1 Predicting the end before you start.
2 What type of business would you like?
3 What do you wish to do with the business eventually?
4 Five crucial build-to-sell questions.
5 If you want to sell, who will buy?
6 What exactly will they be buying?
7 What price do you want?
8 How will you justify the price?
9 Will you be able to work for someone else during the earn-out period?
10 Five crucial lifestyle questions.
11 What type of lifestyle?
12 Is that realistic or too fanciful?
13 How much time off do I want?
14 Who else is involved?
15 What happens if I get ill?
16 Half-dead insurance.
17 The one-page personal plan.
18 Entrepreneurs: myth or reality?
19 Congratulations Mrs Duncan, it’s an entrepreneur.
20 Work out how.
21 Decision time.
22 Chapter 3 checklist.
4. LEAP OF FAITH.
1 Enough talking, let’s get on with it.
2 If you are still planning, you are still not earning.
3 Phobology: what are you scared of?
4 The hardest things about starting.
5 Confidence crises.
6 Lack of support and what to do about it.
7 Sticking to your principles.
8 Cash problems.
9 Action not activity.
10 Test-driving is better than not driving at all.
11 Don’t do things the same way every time.
12 Risking it all .
13 Get the help you need.
14 Screw it, let’s do it.
15 Just @*!`ing do it!.
16 Chapter 4 checklist.
5. HUMILITY, HONESTY AND HUMOUR.
1 Getting the character fit right.
2 Go humble more often.
3 Always be honest.
4 Put some humour into it.
5 Only do business with people you like.
6 Only do something if you know why you are doing it.
7 Remember your personal plan.
8 The difference between service and servility.
9 Getting your attitude right.
10 How to conduct yourself.
11 Wherever you go, lighten up the room.
12 Wide berths and giving birth.
13 Small house, big heart.
14 The four Hs.
15 Chapter 5 checklist.
6. HARD WORK AND CLEVER WORK.
1 What is hard work?
2 There’s work and there’s clever work.
3 When not to work hard, or at all.
4 When laziness does work.
5 Understanding the link between effort and results.
6 Why lazy people achieve nothing.
7 The best things in life.
8 Some simple early rules.
9 Getting the money right.
10 Chapter 6 checklist.
7. GAINING SPEED AND LOSING ALTITUDE.
1 Gaining speed and losing altitude.
2 Speed: good or bad?
3 Busier doesn’t always mean better.
4 Digging a deeper hole.
5 If it’s not working, admit it.
6 Working out when to quit.
7 Change direction and move on.
8 Predicting pitfalls before they happen.
9 Tripwires and predictions.
10 Identify your hates, then ditch them.
11 Facing up to failure.
12 Spotting fool’s gold.
13 Beware self-deception .
14 Don’t kid yourself.
15 Don’t mislead others.
16 You will be rumbled.
17 Chapter 7 checklist.
8. DAILY REINVENTION.
1 Change your offer every day, week, month or year.
2 One in a row.
3 Rewarding yourself appropriately.
4 Don’t get stuck in a rut.
5 Dealing with setbacks: BOHICA.
6 Biggest mistakes and worst disasters.
7 Partners, personalities, and personal issues.
8 Money, more customers and moving customers.
9 Technology, timing and trust.
10 Due to tomorrow’s weather?
11 A few moments now?
12 Are we there yet?
13 Chapter 8 checklist.
9. MARKETING MATTERS.
1 Why bother to communicate?
2 The value of communication.
3 How much should you spend?
4 Say hello to everyone who could help.
5 Don’t be afraid to ask for mini favours.
6 The only ten things you need to know about marketing.
8 Some start-up marketing ideas.
9 Some things to reflect on after a few months of marketing.
10 Relaxed selling lines.
11 Escape lines.
12 Go again.
13 Chapter 9 checklist.
10. PASS IT ON.
1 What they all say.
7 Chinese whispers.
8 The invisible support network.
9 You choose this life.
10 Chapter 10 checklist.
I Book summaries.
II Survey responses.
He has hands-on knowledge of how to run most types of business, and has worked with over 200 clients in almost every category (except Tobacco, which he won't work on). He has deployed 600m of funds on more than 200 brands, overseen over 1,000 projects, and won 35 awards for creativity and effectiveness.
Kevin is the author of Running Your Own Business and Growing Your Business and teaches at Canterbury University. For the last eight years he has been an independent troubleshooter, working on his own as Expert Advice, advising companies how to run their businesses.