Steps to Starting a Small Business: #2 – The Implementation

In the first post of this series, Steps to Starting a Small Business: #1 – The Idea, I covered what is perhaps the most IMPORTANT part of starting a small business – the idea behind your business.

Once you’ve got an idea whose passion has taken you prisoner, it’s time to get down to the next step which is the implementation.

You know – the BORING stuff like the legal FORM of your business, choose an accounting method, apply for an EIN, set up a business checking account, order business cards and stationery – yada, yada, yada!

One of those “yadas” may be to apply for a line of credit or a business loan. There’s been a lot of debate over years over the cost associated with starting your small business.

In one online debate, the two sides are arguing over how much it really costs to start a freelance business. One side says plan on spending a couple of hundred dollars, while the other puts the figure quite a bit higher in the $1,000 – $3,000 range.

Remember, I’ve worked with HUNDREDS of wanna-be small business owners and I have to say, the $300 or less plan is a very dangerous point of view to adopt.

When you’re starting your own small business everything is going to take longer and cost more than you planned.

Chances are, you aren’t a MASTER at all of the jobs you’re going to need performed in your small business, so you should probably plan on farming out at least SOME of the work.

  • If you’re not a web developer, you’ll probably need to hire one to create your website or blog.
  • If you’re not an accountant, you probably need to find one to help you set up the book keeping for your business.
  • If you’re not a graphic artist, you’ll probably need to hire one to create your logo and identity package.

The list goes on and on. (Trust me!)

Without a doubt, the biggest obstacle you face as you start your small business is trying to do EVERYTHING yourself.

Several years ago, I wrestled with a client for almost a year over the opening page to her website. That’s right, it took 12 full months to create a single page. She was obsessed with not only controlling every aspect of the appearance of her website, but she was EQUALLY determined to spend as little as possible.

The thing is, she had a GREAT idea for a small business. Unfortunately, putting up the site was quickly turning into a decades long ordeal and during that time another competitor came to market offering a similar service. My client lost her opportunity to be “first to market” and the last I heard, she had given up on the idea all together.  Meanwhile, her competitor is enjoying the accolades and success of being “first” to market.

Time is NOT money. You can always make more money. You can’t make more time!

Time is constantly ticking away. Ooops! There went another second. No matter how much money you have in the bank, you can’t get back that last second.

This is important. If you’ve got a GREAT idea for a business – one which has captured your every waking moment, every day is precious. Trust me, if it’s a GREAT idea, someone else is working on it.

Every hour you spend trying to piece together your brochure or trying to create a header for your blog in Photoshop, is another hour you postpone the grand opening of your business.

If you’re charging $50 an hour for your services – start viewing the job of designing your business cards, designing your header, setting up your blog via that lens.

You may pay $750 to have a talented graphic artist put together an identity package for you, but in all probability that is probably the BEST use of your time and resources.

See, If you spend 40 hours trying to learn how to create a logo in Photoshop – that means you’ve invested $2000 of your time in creating your identity package. Unfortunately, the logo YOU design probably won’t look as professional as the one you would have HIRED someone to create and may actually PREVENT you from signing clients.

UGH!

I believe this is what my mother would call being, “Penny wise and pound foolish.”

Meanwhile, if you’d hire an experience graphic artist, you’ll get a professionally designed logo which communicates without words all that your business is and does.

That’s why I cringe when I hear someone tout “ultra shoestring” budgets for launching any business.  Create a business plan. If necessary, take out a business loan or better yet – start it after spending a full day at your ‘real” job for a while.

Whatever your do – don’t start your business under capitalized. Plan on everything taking longer and costing more than you think it will.

Now, I’m not advocating getting VC style funding which enables you to splurge on polished marble floors for your office and a hiring half naked, well built men to massage your shoulders as you work.

[Wow – all of a sudden,  I’m wishing for some VC funding.  I believe I just unwittingly set a GOAL for myself with that previous sentence!]

Get enough cash so the desperation doesn’t ring in your voice as you go out and try to drum up clients. If you can do that without a loan, all the better!  However,  while”balls to the wall” isn’t usually isn’t the preferred mode, some people NEED that kind of pressure to get started.

Your comments – as always – are welcome!

Comments

  1. says

    Fear can be a great motivator, to be sure. But, I think, as you say, we do our best work when we are relaxed and confident. So, if we have a grubstake and competent assistance in the areas where we don’t have expertise, we do better work, no? Way to hang in there with that client for a year, Kathy. I think I would’ve fired her. 🙂

    Betsys last blog post..GHOSTS

  2. Kathy says

    Betsy,
    I did end up firing her.

    Unfortunately, I’m a SUCKER for a GREAT idea! Unfortunately, this client taught me that a great idea is only the beginning!!!

    Great ideas are a dime a dozen – but the people who put in the effort to GROW those ideas into a business – now THOSE are rare gems!

  3. says

    Kathy,

    Thanks for keeping up on our debate and for carrying it over here. While we’re not advocating for starting a freelance business for less than $250, we are proof that it can be done! Of course, it would have been easier if we’d started with more. Thank goodness we both have working spouses. That allowed us to build more slowly than would have been necessary if we were tyring to make the mortgage payment.

    lornadoones last blog post..The Debate Ensues: The Costs of Starting a Freelance Business

  4. says

    When recall my 35 years of self-employment I’m amazed at how many times it was a “balls to the wall” experience, so I do think we get better at handling the pressure as we move from one business to the next.

    That’s definitely not the preferred way and unfortunately this advice is spot on. “Remember, when you’re starting your own small business everything is going to take longer and cost more than you planned.”

    I think comfort over these kinds of issues depend on the individual and
    their makeup. I’m looking forward to your next installment.

  5. Kathy says

    @Tom

    I think it gets easier to handle the pressure after you’ve survived it once or twice.

    (I’m blushing because I didn’t realize I’d actually USED that term! That’s what my father – a serial entrepreneur – called it! OOPS!)

  6. Kathy says

    @Lorna Doone

    An employed spouse is DEFINITELY a blessing when starting ANY type of business.

    I’ve watched SO MANY people ty to start their own business with the unrealistic expectation of making a living wage in less than 6 months with a minuscule investment.

    If your spouse is working and paying the bills, you can adopt the “low start up – slow growth” business model. However, when I had a newly widowed woman contact me and inform me she had to be making $3K per month within 6 months and she had less than $500 to start – those are the stories that make me sad.

  7. says

    Very thorough post, Kathy. I started my computer consulting business 5 years ago with no loan from the bank. Instead I had the financial backing of ‘mom and dad’. 🙂

    The bottom line is, even in a business like IT that can grow very quickly and can have very little initial overhead, having some form of financial cushion is a must. I also had a J-O-B at the time so I was able to kind of ‘slide’ into the business and out of the job.

    Thanks for sharing this excellent info! You definitely know your stuff. Eric.

    Eric Hamms last blog post..M2A! October Week4: The Benefits Of Intentionally Stressing Your System

  8. says

    I already had a CPA firm running out of my home office and decided to add my own website. I spent hoards of hours setting up the site and learning WordPress. Anyway, I thouroughly enjoyed the experience, however I didn’t set out to make money blogging and I have more time than money. As an accountant, I will say be careful of do it yourself legal and tax matters.

    Dave Jones, CPAs last blog post..I Pledge Allegiance….

  9. Kathy says

    Dave –

    The “I have more time than money” trap is a common one for start ups.

    If you can illustrate WHY people should be careful about adopting a DIY in tax matters, your blog will become an client attraction tool for your business.

  10. John says

    Best business advice I’ve heard was – Make your accountant your best friend when in business, you never know when you’ll need him or how much money he can make or save you!

  11. Kathy says

    A hearty AMEN to that statement. I swear my CPA has super powers liking stopping bullets and leaping tall buildings!!! He’s amazing.

  12. says

    I always found out that the experience of doing something yourself is always rewarding in the sense of accomplishment, but not always money. Haha. Good advice nonetheless.

  13. Chas says

    Interesting info, thanks. I am looking into starting another online business.

  14. says

    This is good advice and all business owners should never underestimate the benefit of working with a professional such as an accountant. Your accountant can be a real asset to your business.

  15. says

    It is not a big issue to start a business, but issue is success of business. You can’t say anything about success of business because there are several risks along with starting new business. However, business expert advised all business starter to having basic knowledge of business and its basic before starting a new business.

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