Day One of Your New Business
Advice from a veteran startup consultant
“Getting out of bed is a measure of success on day one.”
These are words of wisdom from Jordan Friedman, partner at Bond Moroch and a longtime consultant to startup enterprises. As someone who has started businesses of his own, Friedman has hard-earned insights on where fledgling entrepreneurs should focus their energies, as well as where not to waste time.
Not surprisingly, Friedman emphasizes building a business’ identity as a top priority. This includes a “responsively designed” website, business cards for personal networking and similar items that help create a sense of presence for the enterprise. However, he cautions against putting up one of those “coming soon” placeholder websites, as it sends a message that the business is not really operational.
“Don’t try to fake it ‘till you make it” is one of his mantras.
Friedman also advises businesses to think through the importance of all purchases.
“With my first business, I spent a couple thousand dollars printing boxes of stationery, at a time when every penny mattered,” he recalls with a chuckle. “Several years later, I found those boxes buried in a closet.”
Social media is, of course, an immediate priority, and Friedman hereoffers clear guidelines for new entrepreneurs.
“Keep your posts focused on your product or service and your capacities,” he says. “Your initial objective is to build as many connections as possible, so it is wise to listen more than you talk. And whatever you do, never post anything political on your business or professional page.”
If choosing between Facebook and LinkedIn, he recommends the latter as being a more business-focused platform.
Underlying all of this, Friedman notes that it is vital to “make sure you can clearly, succinctly and interestingly describe and sell your business. Ask yourself: What is your story? How well can you tell it?
Despite the opportunities that communications technologies offer, Friedman still feels that personal interactions have a lot of value.
“Networking through professional organizations not only generates business, it can connect you to helpful resources,” he says. While stressing the importance of one-on-one conversations, Friedman cautions strongly against meeting people for drinks after work.
“When you are entertaining, coffee, breakfast or lunch are more businesslike,” he says. “These options are also cheaper. And after a couple of drinks, the conversation can go off track and into areas that are unprofessional and uncomfortable.”
While understanding that many entrepreneurs are trying to keep costs to a minimum, Friedman always encourages people to get out of the house and into an office as soon as possible, even if it is a shared space.
“If you have enterprise aspirations, working out of your house can be perceived as someone being not really ready for business,” he says, though he notes that sole practitioners can be an exception to this rule.
Finally, and perhaps somewhat counterintuitively, Friedman adds that “you are better off turning down business that you are not ready to take on. It is extremely difficult to overcome a reputation of failed work. Most people will appreciate your honesty and be willing to consider you in the future.”
Starting a new business is one of the most exciting things someone can do. At the same time, we all know the failure rate for startups tends to be high. Staying focused, channeling your excitement and enthusiasm productively, and mixing passion with patience makes a good recipe for ending up on the success side of the equation.
And whatever you do on that first day, don’t keep hitting the snooze button!