Sidestep Start-up Screw-ups

Presented for your edification are the final five elements of the start-up advice recommended by John Osher,  former CEO of Dr. John’s Products, Ltd. and an entrepreneur extraordinaire who started three businesses from the ground up and sold each at huge profit.

13.   SEEKING CONFIRMATION OF YOUR ACTIONS, RATHER THAN SEEKING THE TRUTH

“This often happens: you want to do something, so you talk about it with people who work for you.  You talk to family and friends.  But you’re only looking for confirmation.  You’re not looking for the truth.  You’re looking for somebody to tell you you’re right.  You have to learn to give more value to the truth than to people saying what you’re doing is right”.

14.   LACKING SIMPLICITY IN YOUR VISION

“Rather than focusing on doing everything right to sell to your biggest markets,  you divide your attention …trying to be too many things at one time.  Then your main product isn’t done properly because you’re doing so many different things”.   I have been guilty of this and maybe you have,  too.  I was trying to hook as many customer groups as possible using every skill set that I owned.  As a result,  when I would tell someone what I do,  they would sometimes get this confused look on their face.  Eventually,  a networking group colleague told me that he was having trouble trying to categorize me,  couldn’t figure how to remember me for referrals.  A couple of years ago,  I finally found the courage to pare down my offerings,  to simplify and sharpen the focus of my suite of services.   Referrals eventually increased and business got better.   This is a business model issue.  Sometimes,  less is more.

15.    LACKING CLARITY IN THE BUSINESS PURPOSE AND GOALS

“You should have an idea of what your long-term aim is.  It doesn’t mean that won’t change,  but when you aim an arrow,   you aim it at a target.  What are you trying to do?  If you want to create a billion dollar company with a certain product,  you may not have a chance.  But if you’re trying to create a million dollar company,  then maybe with that product,  you’ll have a chance.  Clarity of your business purpose is very important”.

16.    LACKING FOCUS AND IDENTITY

“This list was written from the viewpoint of building a company as a valuable entity.  Remember that the company itself has an identity,  a brand.  Do not go after too many things at once and end up with a potpourri of products and services,  rather than a focused business entity.  When you go into business,   it’s important to maintain a focus and an identity.  You must be focused on who you are and what you do and you build power and credibility from that”.

17.    LACKING AN EXIT STRATEGY

“Have an exit plan and create your business to satisfy that plan.   You may build a business that you feel will start fast and make a good deal of money and for that reason will attract a lucrative buy-out.   Maybe you figure that you can make lots of money for about two years but after that,  competitors will enter and you won’t be able to protect yourself from them.   So after the first year,  you watch the marketplace very carefully and keep a close eye on inventory.  Another exit strategy can be to hand the company to your kids someday.  The most important thing to do is build a company with value and profits so you have all the options open to you;  keep the company,   sell the company,   go public,  raise private money and so on.   A business can be a product, too”.

Next week,  we can examine five things to get right as you build your business.

Thanks for reading,

Kim

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