I started my own business because it was too painful to continue working for someone else. I loved what I did for a living but just got tired for working for stupid bosses. Yes, I said it! They were stupid, annoying, and lacked vision. Plus I probably didn’t have the best attitude about being an employee. So I did what any reasonable entrepreneur should do. I fired myself! Permanently! I was a very hard worker and I just assumed that if I worked half as hard for myself as I did for the company I would at a minimum be able to pay my bills. I was right. And I never looked back.
That was 18 years ago and I’ve learned a lot over the years. I have started different companies successfully, and currently live a pretty ideal lifestyle. I am not asking you to quit your job, but I am saying that if you want to start a business and you don’t have a lot of cash, here are some key things you should consider to get started towards your ideal life.
My key points are:
- Automate everything possible.
It’s normally more efficient and cost effective to do this than hiring someone. You should first try to understand the daily tasks you do to run the business then try to figure out how to automate them. If you try to track things on pieces of paper or notepads you will not last very long. Use a CRM to track customers; a helpdesk software to track support questions; ecommerce for sales; and any other software that you can find to aid you in your daily tasks. The bottom line is that you need to make things electronic and you need to do this online them online. Yeah, online! What this means is that if you’re still using your PC to track stuff then pray not to have your PC crash, or at least have an automated backup system to store your files online daily. Automation is required or insanity will creep in. The first time I had had my computer crashed I had not backed it up for 4 months. So I wasn’t very happy. Now backups happen without me thinking about it. If my computer crash or some guy swipe my laptop then all I need to do is get another one and reload. In the corporate world we used to call this disaster recover. But in the real world we call this common sense. For automated backups you should checkout mozy.com and carbonite.com. CRMs can include zoho.com, and getBase.com.
2. Outsource everything else.
If you can’t figure out how to automate it you should try to outsource it. In the beginning you are only one person with maybe your partner. But your vision is always a lot larger than can be accomplished with only one or two people. You’ve heard about investors and Angels for funding but the reality is that if you don’t already have a ‘proven’ business, making cash and with a big following, then the chances of getting funding is practically nil. So what do you do to get the work done? You find competent qualified resources via outsourcing.
Some years ago outsourcing was a bad thing. Countries like India and China had a bad reputation. Today, virtually every major tech company including Facebook, Microsoft, and Apple use resources from these countries. But outsourcing doesn’t have to be to foreign companies. There are a lot of qualified resources in your own country. For instance you may be able to hire a web designer that has a full time job at a reputable tech company in the day, but offers his services in the evenings and weekends to make some extra cash. Or a highly qualified stay at home mom that used to be the genius in the workplace until she decided to start having a family. Now you can access that genius via the services she provides online while she stays home to take care of her family. We end up seeing a lot of this and have hired some of these geniuses to run key areas of our business. You can hire her full time or for a few hours a week depending on need and budget, and continue to be patriotic at the same time.
rSitez creates social networking software for a entrepreneurs that want to have a niche social networking website. Instead of hiring and trying to manage a team of developers and designers clients just outsource to the company. The company is Florida based with clients internationally. So you can outsource locally or internationally, depending on your needs.
The bottom line here is that you can operate your business, have great resources, but don’t need to have a full time staff to do this. This reduces your cost and allows you to build high quality product and provide very high quality services to your customers.
3. Partner to expand.
Sales, Marketing, Business Development are really hard things to do if this is not your area of expertise. The reality is that you’re probably good at something, whatever that thing is that your business is focused at. But you can’t be good at everything. Also some things you may NOT be able to automate or outsource. So what do you do? You find partners that are good at it and try to find a way that you can add value to what they do? You search for partners with complimentary produces and services and create an agreement to introduce your products and services to each other user base. It’s like being able to advertise to an entire network without needing to pay for it. But it’s much better because this is a form of endorsement by the gatekeeper of that network.
You would be surprised at the value you provide and how valuable others will find this. Partnering means that the two parties have complimentary products or services that they can offer either other. This can be done to the partner’s network or to a specific segment of their network. We partner with other technology companies where it makes sense for them to introduce us to their user base and we do the same. We do this where their product or services adds value to our customers and they do the same. These kinds of strategic partnerships can be a great way to grow your business and reach other markets without the need to spend tons of cash trying to reach that market. You are also providing the same value to your partner so it’s a win/win situation.
If you’re able to keep focused on these three things, automate everything; outsource everything else; partner to expand; then you can truly start to benefit from your brainstorm or passion that you have converted to your business. You will have a most valuable asset – time. You can have time to expand on your idea, time to focus on your family, time to enjoy life. And, in my opinion, this is what it’s all about. I believe that I have an extraordinary lifestyle and for following this simple formula, you may be able to do the same.
Rohan Hall is the author of Stop Working, a book that teaches entrepreneurs how to use technology and partnerships to build a global businesses. He is the founder and CEO of Cool Mojito a social media company, and rSitez a leading provider of social networking software. He blogs at blog.coolmojito.com.