I’m a serial entrepreneur. I haven’t worked for anyone since I was in my mid-thirties. I’m an independent soul. My current endeavor is to change an industry paradigm by creating a fit standard in the apparel business. There are all types of entrepreneurs. There are people who dream of owning a store, or going into the fashion business. There are people who aspire to create their own products or sell their consulting services. In all cases, we know we only have a limited scope of experience in a new endeavor. The ones who make it are ones who are smart enough to fill their own missing information gaps quickly.
When you go into business for yourself, you have to figure out what you know that you don’t know and put it in. Easier said than done of course. All bootstrap entrepreneurs are missing pieces of their business knowledge when stepping into a new business concept; most especially when leaving a corporate environment where there are parts of the infrastructure that they’ve never had to consider, much less understand.
There are many online tools to create your business plan. Here’s what I want to do. I want to give you some ideas on how to enroll people you could never easily afford to hire… high level thinkers to cover the gaps in your new business.
Study and network in your chosen industry and locate the perfect mentors.
Google experts. Interview people you respect and ask for introductions. I like to start every project with research. Know your competition, talk to people in your industry and on the streets. I’ve discovered that once you have talked to a certain amount of people and they are mostly giving you the same feedback, that you can mostly count on the information being reliable.
Think outside the box and elevate your expectations.
You have no idea who might be willing to get involved to help you. If you want to start a painting gallery, locate the top artist in your town. Creative people always like to give back. Tell them you aspire to carry their work in your new gallery and ask if they would be willing to meet with you to give you some tips. If you are wanting to start an advertising service, contact the CEO of an agency in your town and ask them if they would meet with you and give you some tips because you are researching the industry. Start small and as your confidence grows, build up as you go. Your passion counts! If you are uncomfortable cold calling, then use an introduction letter format and suggest you will be calling to follow up with them in a finite time. Most execs have an ego and like being pursued for their knowledge. Be relentless in your own pursuit of knowledge – make two or three targets of people that can help you and don’t give up. People are surprisingly willing to help and refer you to others.
Offer them warrants or options in your new business in exchange for participation.
You may not be ready to start a board, but you may want someone who can be an advisor. I have created contracts with people and they bill me monthly and then quarterly we issue warrants which can be converted to stock. Penny options are perfect for this. If you find the perfect business partner you can offer them an agreed amount of stock to help you pitch investors. I haven’t found any rules around this. It seems to be just what you agree to. Once again, there is plenty of information available online.
Make your business something special.
These suggestions are also important for me-too or me-three kinds of businesses. If you grew up in a business, know it well or it is easy to find information on your chosen endeavor, you will still need special guidance to stand out from your competition.
Ask someone to be in your business plan as a team member.
Being on a board is a hot topic with people today, especially those leaving the corporate environment at higher levels. You may be surprised to know that people are more than willing to be an advisor to anticipate a future income source. So, put them in the budget, get a short bio and photo, and ask them if they can be included in the presentation and investor meetings. Some people love this kind of thing. It’s important to know that an advisor carries no fiduciary responsibility unless they are on a Board of Directors. Having a Board of Directors may require Directors and
Officer’s insurance to protect them (and you).
Getting legal advice. It is really important for you to get your own legal advice as laws are changing all the time. Remember, a lawyer may give you an hour or two of advice to be the legal firm you will be using in your new company and supporting you with your with your legal budget.
Play out what can happen. Do an intensive SWOT. Make sure your plan is tight and that you have anticipated the best and the worst outcome.
See yourself as extremely successful and know you will attract all the right people. You cannot always control the timing of the outcome, but you can always have your dreams. Always be ready to think of new solutions when unanticipated things arise. I’ve found there will be many stops and starts to work around. It’s your ability to deal with this that will make you a shining success. Get everyone around you to support you, and seriously… ditch the ones that don’t.