As entrepreneurs, we’re often asked for advice or tips about starting a new business. We’d love to tell you that there’s a secret sauce, a perfect equation (we’re accountants, after all) or an instruction manual for how to set up your business for success. In our experience with building Brillect, a Minnesota talent solutions company for finance, accounting and project management professionals, the best lessons are learned in the trenches, with your sleeves rolled up, growing your business one day at a time.
Now, some people, like our co-founder Kristine, were born to be entrepreneurs, organizing lemonade stands, holding garage sales and opening a “bar and restaurant” at her cabin at the age of seven. And while you don’t need the entrepreneurship “gene” to start a business, you do need the willingness – and the confidence – to bet on yourself. This quote by Ayn Rand, “The question isn’t who is going to let me; it’s who is going to stop me,” became a great source of inspiration when we first had the vision to start our own company.
The Journey of Entrepreneurship
This is the first in a two-part series about our journey of entrepreneurship and we’re kicking off with “Three Tips to Build a Solid Foundation for Your Business.” Note that none of these require capital. You won’t need to hire employees on day one. And they can all be done from your kitchen table. But they’re all critical steps on the path to starting a business.
Our hope is that these lessons inspire you to take your business from an idea to a reality and help you to map the path to make it happen. If there’s one thing we believe at Brillect, it’s that everyone’s path should be their own!
Tip #1: Define your WHY and WHO, then WHAT and HOW, and lastly your WHEN
We started Brillect by defining our WHY and WHO, and we invested a lot of time digging into this topic. Originally, we thought our company would be an app, but after diving deeper into the “WHY” and “WHO” behind our business, Brillect was born.
Our own personal stories of being working moms are the foundation of our WHY. Kristine vividly remembers a tweet in response to a New York Times article about a generation of working moms teetering on the edge of burnout from balancing work-life during the pandemic. The tweet stated that the treatment of working moms was tipping the scale toward this individual choosing to not have children.
Kristine sat with this post for a long time. She was struck by the fact that many people were so burned out, they were thinking of sacrificing something as significant as having children. It was from this seed that Brillect sprouted, not just for women, but for everyone seeking a better balance of work and life.
Brillect was founded to help people find more joy at work + life by matching them with meaningful, fulfilling and energizing career opportunities that meet them where they’re at in life. From working parents, to people looking to accelerate their careers, to people venturing into partial retirement, our why is to find people work that brings them joy. With our WHO and WHY clearly solidified, the WHAT, HOW and WHEN quickly fell into place.
Many aspiring entrepreneurs have great ideas for what they want to create or sell, but they lack clarity around WHY it’s important or WHO will buy it. They have started with their WHAT rather than their WHY and WHO. Know your audience and understand what drives them. Therein lies the key.
Tip #2: Have courage
Entrepreneurship is a risk. It requires you to have faith in your WHO, your WHY and your WHAT. Be prepared to hear more naysayers than supporters when you share your plan. There will be days when you question whether you made a mistake and how the bills are going to be paid.
That’s why you must choose courage to begin the journey of entrepreneurship. But courage and comfort don’t have to be entirely MUTUALLY exclusive. You don’t have to completely give up one for the other. Taking steps, which we’ll talk about next, to be comfortable and provide for yourself before you take that courageous leap into entrepreneurship, can help ease your anxiety and bolster the courage you’ll need in that first year.
Tip #3: Build a Bridge
We once heard a speaker say you plan for comfort like a bridge. You are leaving one life and moving into a new one, and you need a bridge to get there. We think of a bridge as four parts: Financial, Social, Board of Directors and Family.
Financial – Everyone wants to make money quickly, but in reality, it’s important to know that it will take time. We planned to not make money for one year. Leading up to our launch, we built up our personal savings and cut costs. It’s key to have a financial lifeline for yourself.
Social – We have serious FOMO socially, but working as much as we do, we know there are going to be things we’ll miss out on. Talk to your friends. Which of them are going to understand when you can’t make it to events and will be there to encourage your plan?
Board of Directors – You’ll need a “Board of Directors,” but we’re not talking about an official, 12-people-in-suits sitting around a table board. Rather, this board is made up of your supporting village, people who you can tap for input and ask questions. Maybe it’s a friend in finance who can help you understand your financials (when will cash get tight, when can you start paying yourself, what metrics do you need to watch), or a former co-worker who is a whiz at marketing. Find people who are willing to lend their expertise to your vision and lean on them.
Family – Starting your own business is life-changing. Not just for you – but for your entire family. When you become an entrepreneur, so does your family. You’ll spend a lot of time outside of 9-5 planning, preparing, visioning and laying the groundwork for your business. You’ll need support at home to do it.
Overall, we think our families have been impacted favorably by our launch of Brillect. We hope that having a front row seat watching their moms launch a company will encourage our children to take measured risks in their own lives and careers.
Up Next: From Ideas to Execution: The Keys to Starting A New Business
In part two, we’ll share more details about the nuts and bolts behind starting a company. We’ll dive into thoughts and considerations for going into business with other people, setting up your back office (as well as your literal one) and grounding your business in values that will guide every key decision you make.
Looking to start something new in your career journey?
Being an entrepreneur isn’t for everyone. But the independence, flexibility and joy of being in the driver’s seat of your career is something that appeals to many people looking for more fulfillment in their work. If opening a storefront, launching a website or being a business owner feels overwhelming, consulting can be a pathway to realize many of the benefits of entrepreneurship. Contact us to learn how.