Entrepreneur YOU!

Where to Start in Starting Your Own Business

Posted in E Essentials by Robert Lindsay Thompson on May 14, 2011

Staring your new business

I was recently invited to teach a class on “how to start your own business” by the Imam (leader) of the local Mosque where my (newly graduated) eldest son attends. It was decided that a two hour class on a Saturday afternoon after prayers was the preferred venue. The presumed audience would have a smattering of experience. Like most folks who want to start and own their own business… they probably have some history with an MLM (multi-level marketing) company or two. Maybe worked in a front line position in retail sales.

Where do I start? I’ve been an entrepreneur for 30 years+. Most of what I’ve learned has been from the streets, the “school of hard knocks”. I’ve been a millionaire twice. Bankrupt twice. As I’ve told my daughter who is interested in starting her own business, “You can learn from me how to start a business and how to make money… but you’ll have to go somewhere else to learn how to manage it and keep it.” I’ve been interested for some time now in translating my practical experience into terms that can be helpful to the “average Joe” (or Joan). I’d like to help other would be entrepreneurs to bring their respective visions to life.

I have a contempt for academia. Going to a University to learn how to start and run a business is like reading about military science and war history to become a good fighter. Who would you want in the fox hole next to you in a fierce battle? The guy who got an “A” in his class on Military Strategy and Operations or the 10 year veteran Sergeant? That being said, what practical “take away” skills can be imparted within two hours? How can I make use of this time to create the maximum potential benefit for attendees.

It takes a village to grow a (brain) child

I came up with this: Owning your own business is like marriage. You own it… but it owns you too. It’s not like a job where you can just put in time. Think marriage, not dating. You’re going to invest your heart and soul, not just your money. Its going to take a 100%. To make it work, it’ll take passion and persistence. Like marriage; when it’s good, it can be very good. When it’s bad… it can be hell. Therefore, you must pick your potential partner very carefully. To pick the right partner, you have to know yourself. To pick well, know well.

The first place to start is a (fearless and thorough) personal inventory.  See my early posts on Using your “identity compass” to find your own “true north” in business and Personal Inventory: Your Entrepreneurial Strengths & Weaknesses. Once you have an idea of the business venture you would like to embark upon, you need to write it all down…  in not more than one page.  The process of writing it down and limiting it to one page will help you clarify and refine your vision.  Finally, distribute the result to a couple of trusted friends.  Ask for their honest feedback and support.  It takes a village.  You will need both cheerleaders and critics.  I prefer the former.


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