Top 11 Things I wish someone would have told me before quitting my job to start my business

By August 14, 2015 Thoughts No Comments
Photo on 8-13-15 at 4.42 PM

“Whatever the mind of man can conceive and believe, it can achieve. Thoughts are things! And powerful things at that, when mixed with definiteness of purpose, and burning desire, can be translated into riches.” ~ Napoleon Hill

 

Read, but Feel free to WATCH too!  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dngbfRTstzA

TOP 11 things no one told me to prepare for when starting a business…
If I had a time machine this is what I would have told myself:

1)  NEVER GIVE ANYTHING FOR FREE.  When I started the company, I wanted to build a network of people who wanted to take cooking lessons and attend demonstrations because they would naturally be curious about the App.  When the app was done, they would be the ones to test it and send it into the marketplace with fiery excitement.  They would have tasted the recipes, known how to make them and had a trusty companion tool to help them shop for the ingredients quickly and inexpensively.   HAHAHAHA!   We had technology hiccups and couldn’t get the tech done in time.  What’s worst, when we switched to a paying model, we lost over 200 of our members because Meet-up dropped them from our group for not paying dues!  What’s worse, we had no way of getting back in touch with them.  We’re building back up the group and are a little over 100 paying members, but it’s not without the experimentation and without hard work.  So the first lesson is – CHARGE from day one.  While in a perfect world, you don’t want to step into multiple businesses to make it work, when you are in certain markets, you have no other choice.  Your business, your personal livelihood, and your reputation is at stake to deliver and unfortunately, you can’t deliver without the flow of money which is an awesome energy needed to stay IN BUSINESS.

2)  IT WILL TAKE 3 TIMES LONGER THAN YOU EXPECT.  I laughed when I first heard this.  I thought, yeah right, if you’re sitting on your butt the whole time.  No matter how much you are ready to go, this statement isn’t about your personal ability to deliver… It’s about moving the other cattle.  Businesses move slow, Government even slower… People – Forget about it!  They will take their sweet time because they think about themselves first and what they want to do.  This means, you have to fight hard to earn their business and keep them connected in and excited about what you want to do.  Most consumers (not early adopters) will have to see you about 8-10 times before a light bulb says, maybe I should try that.  So for me, no tech product, only event space – I have to run about 8 events before people say, “Wow! That’s something I should try”.  The good news is, I’m starting to see that happen after it tool 3 times as long as I expected.  However it brings me to my next point….

3)  IF YOU ARE A PRODUCT PERSON IN TECHNOLOGY & DON’T HAVE AN EQUALLY COMMITTED TECHNICAL CO-FOUNDER DON’T PITCH YOUR PRODUCT, RESEARCH & PAPER TEST, THEN PAY TO HAVE A FIRM BUILD YOUR MVP.   This is scary for me to even say, but when you live in a market where developers expect payment of $170k and have their sea of pickings from heavily funded startups, don’t invest your money into your company or yourself.  Keep your job and do it part-time, take the $40k you would have used to start your business and hold on to it.  That tech person isn’t worth your personal financial risk if they aren’t going to deliver.  A firm can build you a snazzy one under $10k.  Then, use that to launch onto the marketplace. This way, you don’t have to have the luxury of experiencing failure on someone else’s terms, it is your own 100%.  Some people say, “But you quit your job…”  Well, my job was a 100% Commissioned based sales job.  I didn’t have time for anything else and I loved it, it was hard to walk away from, but I reached a personal point in my life where I felt that I wanted to do something more with my time here.  Do I regret it, No.  But leaving $60k on the table with my former employer does not feel good when you’re requesting coverage for your event to build your company and they say they only care about the app.

4)  HOW MUCH YOU SHOULD SAVE.  You should definitely save enough for: rent, utilities, phone, internet, personal upkeep, emergency trips, application fees, trade show & networking fees,  health insurance, life insurance, renters insurance, legal fees, startup costs, gym membership times 18 months.  Sure, you don’t want to take 18 months to get there, but doesn’t it feel much better to focus on the business and know that home is taken care of?   This money isn’t for you to feel like you’re on a long vacation.  It’s to keep you focused on the task at hand.  The problem is when you can’t cover these costs, your natural reaction is to go into scarcity mode.  You aren’t able to thrive or grow if you are in SCARCE MODE.  Do you know who operates well in scarcity mode?  Desperate & Selfish Thieves & Psychopaths.  These are the people who only seek to take.  They are the people that would rather see you fail than help and earn a portion of your profits.  They are also who will account for the negativity in your life.  Know what’s your minimum line you are comfortable with living… be prepared to scale down from there. But the true time that you need to get to where you are stable enough to grow is 18 months.

5)  FACEBOOK FRIENDS DON’T MEAN CUSTOMERS.  Sure they like your status, they tell you when they’ll be in town to hang out, but the excitement they experience when liking your picture or post pales in comparison to what they feel when contributing to your crowd fund or buying/giving feedback on your product.  Count on about 10% that will actually respond, buy, or share about your company.

6)  IF SOMEONE WANTS TO BE A MENTOR OR ADVISOR, THEY SHOULD ADVISE AND MENTOR YOU.    Being an advisor means that this person is not only going to give you the best advice to steer your business, they are going to include you on conversations to help you achieve your goals so that you are going to be the best you can be within your industry.  A mentor will help keep you on track and be really great at ensuring your success because they believe in what you’re doing personally, but they also know they aren’t necessarily equipped with the knowledge or time to be an advisor.  They will answer and read your emails, calls, and will not share your business plan without your knowledge.  They will have integrity and tell you when they are invested in another company within a similar space.  To me, the best advisor or mentor is going to be a straight shooter, no sugar coating.  Personally as a first generation graduate with limited familial support, from a low income family, I prefer candid conversation (no matter how dark) because I have not grown up in a world where my daddy raised $5 million for a company, where I grew up in a home with an entrepreneur, or even had the experience of just going to school and not working a job.  SPELL IT OUT, I lack experience, not acumen.

7)  PEOPLE WILL TYPE CAST YOU, EVEN THOUGH YOU ARE NOT AN ACTOR.  MAKE SURE YOUR BRAND MESSAGING & MARKET IS CLEAR.  I’ve been told on numerous occasions, “I’m not going to support that”, “You shouldn’t do that”, “That’s not your market”, or “That’s not you!”  I think it’s cool to have an event with LIVE Chefs and LIVE Music, espresso’s and bourbon drinks.  Well, there are people that LOVE that, but some won’t.  Namely, if people listen to the only parts they want to hear from your pitch, or know you for building an app that pairs nutrition with budget and that you’re heavily invested in finding ways to help your business support non-profits and disadvantaged communities… these same people think you shouldn’t do that because it doesn’t match the idea of who they think you are.  To them, I say:  “I am – a person that believes that people should be empowered by the tools and knowledge my company provides.   I’m a person that has lived in my problem long enough to know that building confidence in cooking means stimulation.  I’m a person that likes to create jobs and build businesses (LIVE MUSIC & LIVE CHEFS).  I’m a person whose sole source of income is my company.  I’m a person who believes business holds the answers to fast reformation of social problems.  I’m a person who enjoys bourbon & whiskey on occasion.  I’m a person who founded a company that is on a mission to help EVERYONE eat better and save more.  The market that is paying me wants Peaches and Bourbon… The rest of the funding is slow money.  With that, focus on what’s bringing you money in the door as we’ve already learned in #2 (IT WILL TAKE 3 TIMES AS LONG!).  I’m very confident in all the decisions that I make.  None of them are short term solutions, but validations as I gear up to build a truly innovative, interactive, and fun company that solves social problems and gives back.  Because if I’m not providing value or making money, there’s no way to give back!  Make sure that your brand messaging is clear and there are of course some that will paint you, how they think you should be, but those people have demonstrated clearly they are not your customers.   Your customers will support you in the things they love and things they know are going to move the needle forward to get you where our goal is – Fulfilling the mission!  They know it’s an evolution and not a revolution, that judgement doesn’t make progress.  

8)  IT’S OK TO SAY YES!  I at first was going to write no, but based on experience, the power of YES has definitely helped a lot.  I’ve learned to say no recently because I’ve realized that condition of the waters I play in.  Some people and groups are worthy of your time.  I always say YES to anything involving kids even though I do not receive any financial reward from this.  I can’t sell my products to kids, they can’t tweet me or instagram me, I don’t take pictures of them and post to my account.  This is because I value what it’s like to be that age and their safety.  I am very excited to talk to them because one day, they will be adults and if we can plant seeds that let them know starting a business is possible, that they can share their ideas and put them into action, and that trouble doesn’t last always, the world will continue to get brighter.   Other start-ups collaborate with each other to grow and create more traction.  Make sure you are getting equal opportunity.  Those start-ups should promote you just as much as you promote them and the smart ones will never fear your success because they know that the more successful you get, they get.  If you find the relationship one sided, feel free to say NO.  If you can get mutual support, say YES.  Clearly, only try this with people that value their business as much as yours.  Teamwork works when the team has the same mission and collaborates to guarantee success for everyone, rather than themselves first and you later.  Successful partnerships – SAY YES!

9)  THERE ARE TIMES WHEN YOU HAVE TO SAY NO.  These are the times when you know you will regret your involvement.  Or when it brings on more stress.  Negative energy multiplies much faster than positive.  Stress brings on feelings that you aren’t doing enough or can’t.  This is not good for you or the people you are trying to help.

10)  NOT EVERYONE IS TEAM WORTHY, YES, YOU WILL HAVE TO FIRE PEOPLE AND WITHDRAW OFFERS.  Have you seen Pixar’s Inside Out yet?  You know who runs the control panel when I think of this? – Everyone BUT JOY.  It’s as if they all tied up Joy and threw her in a closet and collectively pushed the button.  If not, let’s just say, you will experience every emotion but joy.  I’m extremely slow to hire now because I’ve learned that not all people actually are willing to put in the work it takes to reach success.  And what stings even more is that you were the one that let them in, so you feel terrible about your choice and wonder why you made such a poor choice.  You also feel disgust at yourself and them… You feel fear that they will hate you for this awful pairing or that they will take it much harder than you mean it.  It’s sad… you can know someone is a great person, but not a fit.  They eventually let Joy out of the closet later, but nothing scrubs the blue from the memory.  The decisions you make have to be the best ones for the business.  As long as you were doing what’s best, it had to be done.  These feelings will pass, but it does take a toll.   BE SURE TO ALSO LOVE THE TEAM MEMBERS THAT DO WORK AND CHERISH THEM.  LISTEN AND ALWAYS BE SUPPORTIVE OF THEIR GOALS, NURTURE THEM SO THEY CAN ACHIEVE SUCCESS!

11)  TAKE TIME FOR YOURSELF!  Yep. I’m one of those crazy workaholics that work 7 days per week.  My threshold is a lot higher than most.  I’ve discovered this over the past 18 months.  Around month 16 I noticed that I didn’t smile as much and I hadn’t done anything non-work related in about 3 years!  I do not believe in the phrase it’s a marathon not a sprint.  I think for your entire life you are moving forward.  You can move slow and let amazing opportunities pass you by, or you can sprint to get there ASAP, reserve some energy for the next trip.  You’ll cover much more ground that way… To marathon to me means this is the only thing I foresee in my future.  I refuse to live that small.  With that said, either way… Make sure you take time for yourself, and care for yourself along the way.  You have one body, one life.  If your spirit is out of wack, you will feel it intensely.

Those are the 10 things that I wish someone would have told me before starting this business!  I wanted to share because I want other people to succeed from my failures.  I think many times some failures can be avoided if people were willing to share more!  Are you a start-up Founder?  What are some things you learned and would like to provide a tip on?  Are you thinking of starting a business?  Feel free to tweet me your questions @stretchrecipes  ~ Be sure to share this newsletter~

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