Peter Russo, Director of the Entrepreneurial Management Institute at Boston University, wisely points out that avoiding mistakes is not quite the same thing as doing the right thing. Avoiding mistakes is being on the defensive, the yin side of the equation. Doing the right thing is proactive, on the offensive, the yang side of the equation. Here is Peter Russo’s list of essential must-dos for those who plan to launch a business venture.
1. Know your goals for the venture. “A lot of people see an opportunity without ever asking themselves what they’re doing it for. Are you trying to make a quick buck? Create a legacy? Afford a certain lifestyle? It’s critical that you know from the beginning what your goals are, because everything else is going to revolve around that.” Launching a full-time venture that is expected to grow exponentially and generate for the owners ever-expanding profits is not always a goal. Some people start a business to generate some income by leveraging a creative ability. For many years my father, who had a day job, worked in a landscaping venture that was started by my mother’s uncle after he retired. The two worked evenings and Saturdays for about 15 years. My father and great-uncle understood that it was not practical to attempt to expand the venture into a full-time endeavor, for any number of reasons and so they didn’t. But they made money and that was their goal.
2. Recruit and hire the best people. “It sounds almost like a cliché to say that I’d rather have an A team with a B idea than a B team with an A idea. The right team can fix a lot of problems. If you don’t have the right team, you don’t have much of a chance. Get the best available people at the time.” Hiring friends and family who need a job is not the way to staff your start-up. You need experience and talent, creative and resourceful professionals possessed of an excellent work ethic and who are a good cultural fit for the organization.
3. Develop a forgiving strategy. “Things are going to go wrong. They’re going to be harder, take longer and cost more money than you think. You have to have a strategy to survive. A lot of people put together a plan that will work only if everything goes right. It’s not going to.”
4. Be honest with yourself. “Acknowledge shortcomings, weaknesses and problems immediately. Do not ignore them or try to talk yourself out of them. Address them head-on.” So if you have production problems, distribution or quality control problems, fix your system. If business is distressingly slow, then re-think your business model—do you have a viable concept? Or might you have been too optimistic about market potential, or your ability to enter and win customers? Should you step up your marketing efforts?
5. Commit to the business. “You can’t really do anything significant without fully committing yourself to it. A lot of people try to dabble. They think they’ll do it part-time and see how it works out. If you plan to be successful, you have to commit.” Refer back to #1—what are your goals for the business? Plenty of people operate successfully as part-time caterers, musicians, wedding photographers/videographers, website designers, etc. They start a business to generate some money by leveraging a creative ability. It takes a great deal of energy, discipline and focus to launch and sustain a part-time business while simultaneously working a full or part-time job. You must commit to the business if it is to succeed.
Thanks for reading,