start a business

From a question asked on MosaicHub by Barbara Ciosek.

I’ve been advising small business owners for 25 years, and I see that people start businesses at all ages. Here are a few common categories:

20s. New professionals. People who get professional training, then go out on their own, so they never really work for anybody else (except their customers). Pretty quickly they see they must make their professional practice work as a business.

30s – 40s. Experienced professionals. People who start out working for a large company, get fed up with it, and strike out on their own, perhaps taking a few customers with them. Most of my clients fall into this category.

50s – 60s. Corporate escapees or castoffs get laid off–or retire–then either start their business or buy a business. I have a client who took his golden parachute from investment banking and started a yoga studio.

60s – 70s. Recycled Boomers. People who retire often get bored and decide to launch another venture. I have a client who sold his cable programming company at 67, and has started a training program for other retirees.

What about energy levels? I think it’s a myth that you have to work 24/7 when you start a business. Many do, of course, but I think that’s often due to poor planning–or choosing an inadequate business model.

The young often see older people as decrepit and slowing down. But when you get to be 70,  you might say, “Hey, I still love my work, and I still have plenty of energy and gumption. And what else would I do for the next 20 years or so?”

I, at 71, am about to launch a new offshoot from my company, training coaches and consultants to do what I do.

 

PS. This ignores the whole category of people who take over a family business, which can happen at any age, but most commonly in the 30s or 40s, after working in the business for a long while.

 

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My answer to a question by Brent Russell

Anybody can start a business. It’s pretty easy. Having a profitable business? That’s harder!

First, have something that someone else wants to buy.
Sell it to them for more than it costs you.
Sell enough of it so that the surplus between cost and revenue (i.e., the Gross Profit) is enough to:
— cover your other business costs, like marketing and admin, and
— make you a living.

After you’re sure you’ve got this part down, then start the business officially. Get your business license, tax ID, insurance, rent an office, etc. But spend no overhead before you have to.

When to hire help. To justify hiring, the employee must help the business bring in enough additional revenue so that his/her wages (including payroll taxes) are covered by the Gross Profit from the additional sales. Your employee can do this in several ways:
— Sell more of your products or services
— Do billable work for your customers
— Free you up from admin stuff so that you can sell more
— Bring an essential skill to the team so that everybody’s productivity is raised

Where to get start up or growth capital. First, where you won’t get it from: VCs, bank loan, the government.

Most small business start up capital comes from
— your savings
— personal loan, or 2nd mortgage
— family or friends (very risky)
— initial contract that pays some money up front (very savvy if possible)
— charge it on your credit card (very stupid)

Where your initial sales come from. Knowing you have potential sales out there is the reason to start a business. So if you don’t know the answer to this question, you shouldn’t be starting a business.

 

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