Throwing politically correct out of the window here, to offer my plain spoken advice on starting a business.
Talk talk talk talk talk talk we live in a world made of talkers and image makers. Social media has produced mice-like attention span and made louder the big thing.
You go to a restaurant? Stick the picture of that cheesecake on your Instagram. Even if it tastes like rubber, who cares? It looks good. You read a catchy headline? Hit share and shoot it off to Facebook and count the likes. Share your bite-sized wisdom on Twitter and make the World a better place.
If you are going into business, stop wasting time and start blowing punches, well aimed, strong iron-fist punches. The aim is not to be part of the group: the aim is to go and rise above the noise and hit, hard and fast.
How many people out there think they have got what it takes? How many out there secretly hold the next big thing? How many people out there are over qualified? How many people out there are aiming for the same things as you? Thousands, millions and … you.
The prosperous 90’s have created a generation of overqualified Millennial that have ambition in bulk, qualifications by the kilo and have spent years in selling themselves right, left and centre. Stop being kind and politically correct. Take them on, or they will.
photo by Alejandro Gonzalez Valle
Time is a scarce resource, don’t waste it. Are you working 80 hours a week and you are unsuccessful? You deserve it. No one should work 80 hours a week on a single project or job. Diversify, divide and conquer.
Ask yourself “why am I working 80 hours a week?” Because you cannot handle the workload? To please yourself by feeling fulfilled? Whatever the reason stop and think: are you a performer or are you just busy?
If you are spending your days in meetings and do not generate enough cash to take on freelance help, then there is something seriously wrong with your business plan. Delegate or change your price model.
From today everything in (your) business is about cash. If you think otherwise, you are plain wrong. We are in business for cash, we are in business for what the cash will allow you to be, to buy or to look like.
There is more to life than money, don’t get me wrong, otherwise we would be all investment bankers and an an army of grey suits.
But when you start a business, rule number one, two and three is cash. To have cash surplus is the enabler for a better life, for quality education for your kids, to subsidize your time-off. Without money, you are just owned by someone else that you do not call “boss”.
If you are apologetically avoiding money talks with investors, clients, suppliers or employees: stop. Be upfront about money: about how much you need, how much you want, about how much you are worth, about how much you are prepared to pay and most of all how much money you are going to make to those that will back you and believe in you.
Make money and you will soon be free.
Why are you doing stuff? I used to work in restaurants when I was a kid and the first rule I learned was: you never go from A to B without something in your hands. You bring drinks to a table, come back with empty plates from the next table. Are you taking an order, stop-by with service on another table first.
In short and translated in to business talk: optimise your resources and maximize efficiency.
To be able to do that you need to have purpose, know what you are doing and why. Always.
Pay peanuts, attract Monkeys
You cannot do everything by yourself, you should not do everything by yourself.
If you are a believer in the “if you want something done, do it yourself” then you are stuck in the ’50s: you need help, you need support and you need access to skills you do not have. Use freelancers, manage them closely and pay them handsomely.
When you start a business you need to be frugal, but not on the core business.
Stop printing expensive business cards, focus on your core business and employ the best available talent to develop it. High fliers are self-motivated and do not need the “Steve Jobs” speech from you. They want to get the job done quickly, efficiently and be paid on time.
If you need to motivate a freelancer to work on your project: either your project is bad (ask them and find out why they think so) or the freelancer is not good. Move on.
If you are doing things on the cheap, it will show: a Dacia Logan will never be a BMW 535, no matter how clean it is and no matter how much hard sell you give.
You are not an Entrepreneur and Start Up does not mean anything
If you are serious about being in business, do not call yourself entrepreneur. It does not mean anything. I see so many people that label themselves Entrepreneurs and are content with belonging in the “start-up” business arena.
Your aim is not to be a start-up, who cares about the charming T-Shirt, the empty pizza boxes and the philosophical discussions? High-school is over, Uni is (probably) over too.
Do not believe the hype. You are starting a business great, but your aim is to be a start-up for the shortest amount possible. VC or self-capital, bootstrap it or seek funding: whichever way you are taking, just aim to be up and running and in the black asap. Focus on profit and cash, not spin.
Not everyday is an easy day for anyone, myself included , but I would not want to go back to a Mon-Fri 9-5 life (does it exist anymore anyway?). Having your own business should be about enjoyment.
You should wake up in the morning and have a spring in your step: “go, get them”. You are in business because you want to and because you love to, not because you should or because they say it is cool. Even worse, if you are setting up a business because you do not know what else to do: get out now.
Close, close, close
A-B-C. A-always, B-be, C-closing. Always be closing! Always be closing!! A-I-D-A. Attention, interest, decision, action. Attention — do I have your attention? Interest — are you interested? I know you are because it’s fuck or walk. You close or you hit the bricks! Decision — have you made your decision for Christ?!! And action. A-I-D-A; get out there!! You got the prospects comin’ in; you think they came in to get out of the rain? Guy doesn’t walk on the lot unless he wants to buy. Sitting out there waiting to give you their money! Are you gonna take it? — from Glengarry Glen Ross
Feel free to give me a shout if you want to make your small business a successful small business.
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Roberto is a management consultant specialized in project and change management, lean management, audit and investigations. He is also the founder of the upcoming internal audit platform #kob and its siblings.
Available for speaking opportunities and writing collaborations.