“It's a dangerous business, Frodo, going out your door. You step onto the road, and if you don't keep your feet, there's no knowing where you might be swept off to.”
―J.R.R. Tolkien, The Lord of the Rings
I recently established my own business. It’s a new world, and a lot of work. Thankfully, I have a lot of great resources and friends to turn to for advice and help. This Entrepreneurism Blog is about the process of opening your own shop, and was suggested to me by one of those friends. I will learn a lot about creating my own business, and, if you’re thinking of starting your own business, perhaps you can learn from my successes and missteps.
I’d say the first step to starting your own business is the decision to do so. Generally speaking, you need to know what you’re going to sell. For me that was easy. I’ve been practicing law for several years, so I already knew what I could offer. I also had the advantage of having studied some of the other considerations in establishing a business because I practice in the area of estate planning. Through the estate planning lens, I’d seen many of the legal considerations for passing a business to the next generation, how to protect your non-business assets from any business liability, and—by tracing this knowledge back to the origin point of creating a business—how to tackle some of the considerations when first opening the business.
I also used some brain-power to figure out my projected revenue and overhead. Given that I’d already been in practice, I could look at history to give me some idea about what I could possibly expect for myself. For my overhead, I took the experience of other business people and made some estimations for myself.
Based on some of those discussions, I realized that overhead was lethal for my first year. So, I started looking for ways to cut costs. For example, in my business, I could see that technology was going to disrupt a portion of my traditional process, so I decided to get ahead of the curve and try to incorporate technology to improve my business and cut that overhead. I also saw that clients frequently wanted to meet at their home or at a neutral site to discuss business, so I saw an opportunity to trim overhead by eliminating leased space. As my business grows and I have need for it, I can add that on.
“Adding on” is another thing I’ve picked up from the technology industry. From a debugging perspective, it is much easier to start simple, get that right, and add complexity as you prove the simpler elements work. For that reason, I’m starting off doing everything myself. I won’t lie, that decision sent a shiver down my spine as I realized I was going to be doing a lot of things at the same time. That’s right, I will need to be a jack-of-all-trades for a while. I see this as an opportunity because it means I’ll know enough about all elements of my business to be conversant when I decide that the time has come to outsource pain-points to other professionals so that I may focus on areas that are more profitable.
So there you have it. At its simplest level, I decided it was time to take the plunge, and I spent a little time figuring out the smallest ember from which I felt I could build a fire of my own business. Next I’ll get into the ugly facts of the real world and what I did to start addressing them.
Post by Peter Harrison