Do you want to know how some of the most successful entrepreneurs in the United States made it?
Here are some jolts of inspiration and shots of courage for new business owners, gleaned from interviews with 45 of America's leading company founders. (The author took questions from readers today in an online discussion.)
Too little funding forces discipline.
The upside of having too little funding is that your business can grow organically, and you'll stay very focused on making a profit and positive cash flow.
Always have a standby investor.
No matter how much you like each other, and how much time and effort you've invested in negotiating and paperwork, large financial partnerships can -- and often do -- fall apart last minute.
Create a business plan that's a selling tool.
Venture capitalists look at hundreds of prospects, so your business plan has to be clear, credible, and able to demonstrate in 10 minutes or less your dedication to solving a crucial problem.
Be honest in all your dealings.
Running a business is no different than running your life. Founders should be honest in their dealings and in their assessments. Always look at facts, because facts don't lie.
Start with what you have.
If you wait for the perfect solution to come along, you'll never get your business going. Assume that the right tools, systems, and people will come along to refine it.
Make your employees shareholders.
When employees have a sense of ownership, it creates a kind of self-enforcement process. Give stock options to everyone at your company -- all the way to the janitor. Owners think differently than employees.
What doesn't work, throw away, and what does work, run with it. Knowing what's going right and what's going wrong -- and doing something about it quickly -- will put you at the front of the class.
Be willing to tweak your idea.
If you fall too much in love with your idea, you won't have the capacity to take feedback from other people and from the market. The idea you start with is unlikely to be the exact idea you're going to win with.
Special to The Globe and Mail
Robert Jordan has been launching and growing companies and helping other entrepreneurs do the same for the past 20 years. He is author of How They Did It: Billion Dollar Insights from the Heart of America (RedFlash Press), $41 billion (U.S.) worth of inspiration from 45 leading founders. His startup, Online Access, the first Internet-coverage magazine, landed on the Inc. 500 list of fastest growing companies. His newest endeavors are RedFlash project implementation team, and interimCEOinterimCFO , a worldwide network of interim, contract, and project executives.
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