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Monday, June 6, 2011

Startup Basics Recap from Interview

Startup companies can be fun and fulfilling for many entrepreneurs.  As an example, note the enthusiasm exhibited by a local business owner as highlighted in the Fox News in Charlotte, NC June 5, 2011 in a story covered by Renee LaSalle.  Renee’s interview of Robert Sparks at Right Click  and her resource summary are most helpful.  The list included:

·       Use local Colleges/ Universities
·       Don’t be afraid to out-source
·       Have good counsel
·       Network, network, network.

In addition, Rene went on to highlight the need for thorough research (most can be done via internet).

If you are thinking of starting a company, these are some important resources that will benefit the endeavor.  Here are a few of the reasons:

Use local learning institutions:  Many local institutions have entrepreneurship, MBA, or help programs for local entrepreneurs and small businesses.  Some offer reviews of business plans and coaching to facilitate economic development in the region.  Costs will vary, but sometimes the services are free or can be bartered.  In addition, many faculty members have strong backgrounds that can augment aspect of the business from the science to the business.  Making contacts and meeting the people involved can be most helpful and sometimes, you can get an education just by speaking with these professionals for a short while.

Networking: In an article posted May 23, 2011, examples were provides that demonstrate the real benefit of advisors and luck in business.  Most important is the network and advisors you build around you because they can help you see what you may miss, learn what you do not know, provide feedback, and much more.  Most people are not aware that more than 90% of the job market is never posted or advertised.  Networking is the best way to find these jobs.  In addition, a strong network will help in being introduced to funds line the IMAF-fund in Charlotte, NC and this is the case for many Venture funds. In fact, Renee learned of the connections to those interviewed via networking after learning of publications in the Examiner.com on Startups in Charlotte, NC.  You should always seek to improve and expand your network, the benefits are immeasurable.

Thorough Research:  This is an extremely important part of any startup.  The strategy of “Build It and They Will Come” is a really bad way to start a business.  The market, end users, development plans, strategy for growth, analysis of potential revenue, goals and milestones, timelines to product launch and much more must be defined.  It is hard to do justice without doing the research to define the parameters in a well written business plan.  Much is available on line, more via your network, and still more via the local institutions.  Whether you are building a local business or a multi-national one, learn all you can before starting.

Outsourcing:  Startups often begin with an idea and no CASH.  A particularly good way to keep staff low and be able to make vertical cuts in expenses is outsourcing.  A contract can be terminated and you have minimal impact on your employees in house.  Secondly, outsourcing can get prototypes, marketing, development, sales, or most any other part of the business done.  Some of these sources will even consider taking a position in the business rather than complete cash payments.  Explore the outsourcing and other angles when constructing the business plan.  Some of these sources may be just the thing to help propel your business.

Have good counsel:  There are many great business attorneys; GET ONE EARLY.  They can help with all of the documents, agreements, and provide advice.  They are part of your network.  They can make introductions to funds or angel investors.  Counsel and advice can also be provided via your network.  Getting great feedback on what you are planning is very important and will help you formulate the best and most likely path to succeed. 

  Taffy Williams is the author of:  Think Agile:  How Smart Entrepreneurs Adapt in Order to Succeed to via Amazon