Peruse the headlines and you’ll often be sold a rags-to-riches story of a company’s overnight success. While the journey of entrepreneurialism is often glamorized, we’re firm believers in pulling back the curtain because ultimately, it’s with transparency that true connections form and real trust is built. That’s why we’re passionate about helping other would-be entrepreneurs understand how to navigate the twists and turns of starting a new business. Since starting our Minneapolis finance and accounting consulting firm a year and a half ago, we’ve learned many lessons. And while there have been many wins, let’s be real, there have also been challenges.
This is part two in a series on our journey of entrepreneurship. In our first installment, we shared our tips for building a strong foundation. This time, we’re diving into the nuts and bolts, featuring our Top Do’s and Don’ts for Starting a Business. It’s important to note that some of these same tips can apply to people who are thinking of trying a new career or making a job change. After all, embarking on a career change has much in common with starting a new business. It takes faith, determination and courage. The key message for either endeavor, in our opinion, is to invest in yourself. Get clear about your value proposition. Take a chance and have the courage to try something new, whether it’s opening a new store or finding a new career path.
Do’s and Don’ts for Entrepreneurs
#1 DO Think Before You Leap
Invest the time upfront to vet your business idea before quitting your job. Who are your competitors? What is the current marketplace like? What is the business opportunity? We spent a year thinking about, talking about and brainstorming our business before we launched it. We shut off our work computers, opened our personal laptops and met weekly to hash out our business plan before we quit our jobs. We hear from a lot of would-be entrepreneurs who are so excited about their big idea that they want to quit their job and jump right in, but trust us, the wait (and the preparation) is worth it.
#2 DON’T Tie Yourself Down Financially
It’s tempting to want to create a fancy website with lots of bells and whistles or buy a high-tech CRM system or rent cool office space on day one. In reality, it’s ok to hit the pause button on those items and take a “not right now, but later” approach. We were scrappy and super resourceful when building our company. We worked from our basement before signing a lease for office space. We chose a small (but mighty) marketing agency versus a hefty monthly retainer with a big-name agency. You can spend lots of money on all sorts of things. Focus on what will drive revenue. The rest can come later.
#3 DO Divide & Conquer
If you’re going into business with other people, find out what each other’s strengths and weaknesses are and use them to your advantage. If one of you is a big-picture dreamer and innovator, let them lead your sales and strategic planning. If one of you is a natural multi-tasking, process improvement guru, let them lead your operations. If you try to have your finger in every aspect of your business, you will burn out and lose focus. Appreciate one another’s strengths and play to them.
#4 DON’T Go At it Alone
We soaked up advice from other entrepreneurs whenever we could, listening to podcasts like How I Built This with Guy Raz and StartUp with Alex Blumberg. We’d listen to them in the car on the way to work, on our walks or while doing the dishes. There are lots of entrepreneurs willing to share their lessons learned. Ask another entrepreneur out for coffee and come prepared with a great list of questions. We were so humbled (and appreciative) of everyone who was willing to share their advice, experience, and insights with us. And we’d gladly reciprocate if anyone is interested.
#5 DO get clear about your values
One of the first things we did when starting Brillect was to define our values. We wanted values that would be our true north star, not just a list of nice-to-haves hanging on the wall. We brainstormed with huge Post-It® notes, we white boarded and had lots of discussions about our commonalities, shared values and what is most important to ourselves and our stakeholders. Being intentional and proactive about defining our values has been critical to our success. It’s a step you can’t overlook or delay as a business owner.
#4 DON’T Let Your Fear Take Over
We’re often asked if we have any regrets about starting our own business. Resoundingly, all three of us wish we had done it sooner! Bet on yourself, build your bridge and go for it! We love owning our own business. While there will be bumps along the road, there is so much room for growth and opportunity.
Taking the Next Step
We hope these tips are helpful. If you want to follow along on our future journey with building Brillect, please connect with us on LinkedIn. And if starting your own business feels like too big of a leap, reach out to talk about how a career in finance, accounting or project management consulting may be a pathway to a new chapter in your career journey. Contact us to get started.