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What You Should Know Before Starting Your Very First Business

What You Should Know Before Starting Your Very First Business

This answer found in Quora by Oliver Emberton helps to describe what all first time entrepreneurs should know before starting their very first business.

11 years ago I was an impoverished student about to graduate with £14k in debt. I did what any sensible person would do in this situation, and started my own business.

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I co-founded with someone who proved to be less than ideal when he punched me in the face during our second board meeting. He owned 49% of my company. Our first annual profit – £200 – was barely enough to buy one iPod touch.

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    A decade later I’m almost embarrassingly happy and successful, but the road there was long and winding. Here’s some of what I learned:

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    On you as a founder

    • Firstly, do it.
      Every single person – from my family to my closest friends – ultimately doubted that this was a good idea. (Many started being supportive, and changed their minds when times got harder). If you feel compelled to do it, don’t let anyone stop you, and don’t expect anyone to support you either.
    • Start with total brutal honesty.
      I’d say this is Rule #1 in life. Everybody deludes themselves in some way – and in groups it can often be easiest to delude each other. But the more honestly you can see the world, the better your decisions will be. Doubt yourself. Question everything. If someone put a gun to your head, could you tear holes in your ideas? When your plans can withstand that, they’re probably pretty good.
    • Practice saying no. A lot.
      You will almost certainly want to do a hundred different things. Almost all business founders are like this by nature – they see opportunity everywhere and change the world (I’m certainly no exception). But this is a terrible way to run a business. You need to focus on doing a very small number of things really well, and that means saying no to 1,000 other things. This is harder than you think, and far more powerful than you can imagine.
    • Growing past 2-3 people will cripple most founders.
      Most small businesses are started by a person who’s good at what their business does: accountants start accountancy companies, bakers start bakeries; I was a geek who – at first – started a web design company. These people will find it extremely hard to grow past 2-3 people; most often they struggle to hire someone ‘as good as themselves’, and end up tired and frustrated trying to do everything. If you only read one business book, get the E-Myth Revisited and learn what to do about it, or at least skim these free notes.

    On your business idea

    • Don’t be afraid to change tacks.
      There is a saying that no business plan survives first contact with the customer. Nintendo started by making playing cards. Facebook was designed for university students. My own company built websites for 10 years before changing to software. Changing direction doesn’t have to make you weak or indecisive – you may have to adjust to find your perfect niche. Just try to do it early and avoid doing it too often.
    • Just one. Powerful. Idea.
      You can blend complementary ideas (e.g. a restaurant with comedy shows) but not totally disparate ones (a restaurant that sells management consulting services).  When you start pick out just a few key features of your idea, and focus on making those amazing. Say no to everything else.
    • A successful business is either loved or needed.
      It’s exceedingly rare to be both, although as owners we always like to think our companies are loved! (see Rule #1: be honest with yourself). Ensure you’re essential or utterly irresistible. Most often if you sell to businesses you have to be needed – like accountants, lawyers, web designers; if you sell to consumers you need to be loved – like iPhones, movie theatres, cosmetics.
    • Imagine being an outside investor.
      Pretend to be someone with a lot of self-made money but not much time. Meet yourself right now, and listen to your own explanation of your business. What do you think? Does it sound like a good investment? Once again – be honest. (Sidenote: it’s ok to have a business which isn’t planning to be a big financial success. But very few entrepreneurs believe they’re starting one of those).
    • Align with your passions.
      True passion is infectious. It will win over doubting prospects. It can make staff loyal to you. Passion will give you boundless energy and keep you going when others would throw in the towel. Ultimately if you build a business around something you’re not passionate about – and I made this mistake – you’ll wake up one day and think “what have I gotten myself into?”

    On marketing

    • Marketing isn’t about changing people’s minds.
      Your job isn’t to convince people to want what you’re offering. It’s to help your prospects convince themselves that what you’re offering will help them get what they really want.
    • A few things not to skimp upon.
      Your logo, tagline and website are utterly essential; they’re the first impression you’ll make to most people, and your only message while you’re not there. (If you sell face-to-face to businesses add business cards to that list). If you need professional help, get it. Don’t be tempted to hire your teenage nephew, or do it yourself. This is akin to being your own lawyer, and equally disastrous. You don’t have to pay a fortune – just keep your requirements simple and emphasise quality over quantity. Don’t worry about letterheads or compliment slips or custom email footers or any of that crap until you’re making money.
    • Advertising is a tax you pay for being unremarkable.
      A good idea is easy to sell; a great one will sell and spread itself. The harder you have to work to explain and sell what you do, the more your idea needs work. There are two solutions: simplify what you do, or change tacks entirely. You won’t sell more of a bad idea by making it more complicated.

    Everyone has to find their own path, but you can save yourself a lot of time and stress by learning from the best and brightest who have come before you. I highly recommend reading just three brilliant books: The E-Myth Revisited7 Habits of Highly Effective People and the Personal MBA; they’re worth at least a year’s head start by themselves.

    Everyone I know who has ever tried had a single common refrain: they wish they did it sooner. If you think it’s your calling, what’s your excuse?

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    Brian Lee

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    Last Updated on November 5, 2018

    20 Best Places to Work for a Great Career in 2018

    20 Best Places to Work for a Great Career in 2018

    Looking for a job? There’s no doubt to the fact you will want to work with a company that appreciates you for who you are.

    Well, good news. The labor market today is one that has peened up with more opportunities for advancement and personal employee improvement. This is partly due to the fact that a lot of companies have been made to understand the value of their biggest assets: the employees.

    To wit, here’s a list of companies- across a wide array of industries- that have been able to develop working environments that are healthy and accommodating to workers.

    Take a look at these 20 best place to work for a great career:

    1. Salesforce, San Francisco, California,

      Salesforce is in the information technology business and the company ranks highest due to their commitment to learning and innovation. They are ready to try new things and everyone with a new idea is always welcome to share it at the company. The company has also been known to exhibit an exceptional approach to alignment.

      Find out more about careers in Salesforce

      2. Wegmans Food Markets Inc.,Rochester, New York

        Based in Rochester, New York, employees have been known to enjoy a sense of purpose from working here. The company has been able to achieve an optimal level of engagement across all working tiers and they’ve been able to achieve great things together. They even do deliveries.

        Find out more about careers in Wegmans

        3. Ultimate Software, Weston, Florida

          Employees get amazing benefits here but that’s not the only reason why this place is so awesome to work. Whenever there is a need or a death of an Ultipeep or any of other family members, the company shows love and support like no other.

          Find out more about careers in Ultimate Software

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          4.The Boston Consulting Group, Inc., Boston, Massachusetts

            Development is at the center of anything that goes on here. The business is about people and employees are the company’s biggest asset. Employees are able to challenge the status and also leave impacts on clients.

            Find out more about careers in The Boston Consulting Group

            5. Edward Jones, St. Louis, Missouri

              Edward Jones is admired for their ability to acknowledge history without being mired down by it. The company builds on a solid foundation but there is also a level of flexibility that allows for innovation.

              Find out more about careers in Edward Jones

              6. Kimpton Hotels and Restaurants, San Francisco, California

                Kimpton is a trendsetter in the hospitality industry. The company always strives to try something different and that perspective is welcomed there at all times. Enjoy the weekends with luxury rooms, conformable mattress, furnished and well dressed service staff. A great opportunity for job seekers.

                Find out more about careers in Kimpton Hotels and Restaurants

                7. Workday, Pleasanton, California

                  Newbies will find no issues with feeling welcome and at home here as this has always been a core culture component of the IT giant. Everyone is treated like family and this fosters a sense of oneness.

                  Find out more about careers in Workday

                  8. Genentech, South San Francisco, California

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                    Here, employees are encouraged to be themselves. There is a feeling of care, safety, and acceptance that you get here that you can’t get at many firms. The development of an all-inclusive environment has always been foundational.

                    Find out more about careers in Genetech

                    9. Deloitte, New York, New York

                      Deloitte is one of the biggest professional service providers in the world, noted for their focus on constant learning, development and improvement. They invest in their employees and are concerned about their well being.

                      Find out more about careers in Deloitte

                      10. Baird, Milwaukee, Wisconsin

                        Baird is a financial services provide that is known for adopting a “no asshole policy’ which guides the way people relate with and respect each other, regardless of their position on the company’s hierarchy.

                        Find out more about careers in Baird

                        11. Quicken Loans, Detroit, Michigan

                          At Quicken Loans, the views and opinions of everyone are respected and heard. The organization is revered for the amount of investment they put in their team members and everyone looks for ways to grow and be better.

                          Find out more about careers in Quicken Loans

                          12. Capital One, Mclean, Florida

                            Capital One has adopted a culture that encourages employees to take risks and try new things. They foster a healthy work-life balance and associates are challenged to live better lives.

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                            Find out more about careers in Capital One

                            13. Cooley LLP, Palo Alto, California

                              Cooley LLP is a law firm known for their ability to care about the company culture and being able to develop a working environment that is empowering and fun. Cooley is known to go for the best when it comes to their employees, regardless of the occasion.

                              Find out more about careers in Cooley LLP

                              14. Southern Ohio Medical Center, Portsmouth, Ohio

                                The medical center has been known for their propensity to delegate so much to their employees, thereby providing them with the ability to grow and learn on the job. In the end, you get a workplace that is all-engaging and super fun.

                                Find out more about careers in Southern Ohio Medical Center

                                15. American Express, New York, New York

                                  American Express is a firm that celebrates wins, no matter how small. Everyone is made to share the same attitude towards service and the people they are to serve, thereby making people care about what they do.

                                  Find out more about careers in American Express

                                  16. Adobe Systems Inc., San Jose, California

                                    The culture at Adobe Systems is one that encourages employees to develop their own ideas and get a strong viewpoint. As opposed to encouraging competition, work-life balance is fostered everywhere here.

                                    Find out more about careers in Adobe Systems Inc.

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                                    17. The Cheesecake Factory Inc., Calabasas, California

                                      The Cheesecake Factory rewards dedication and hard work. Promotions come pretty easy, and there is always space for guidance to develop your experience and skills.

                                      Find out more about careers in The Cheesecake Factory Inc.

                                      18. Sap America, Newtown Square, Pennsylvania

                                        If you’re looking for a new career path, SAP might be the best bet for you. The company is adept at recognizing value and transferable skills. And you can always look for a new path while maintaining your employment.

                                        Find out more about careers in Sap America

                                        19. NVIDIA Corporation, Santa Clara, California

                                          NVIDIA is known for looking after even the smallest of things. With even a “pets allowed” policy this company accepts you for who you are, and helps you to work within your personality. Advancement is also fostered, and you are able to collaborate effectively.

                                          Find out more about careers in NVIDIA

                                          20. KPMG LLP, New York, New York

                                            Communication and progressive collaboration are the foundation of this company’s workforce treatment. Regardless of the level you are, someone is always at the ready to help and the company rewards extra effort with gratitude.

                                            Find out more about careers in KPMG LLP

                                            All in all, it’s safe to say that you will be able to find somewhere to apply your skills (whatever they are) that is all inclusive and highly accommodative. Companies today are being made to understand how much they can get when they treat their employees right and this has opened the door to an encouraging work environment for all.

                                            Happy job hunting!

                                            Featured photo credit: Pexels via pexels.com

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