Jun 28 • 32M

🌟 Unlock Success — 30 Essential Tips for Creating Your New Business (Issue #33)

10 things to forget about, 10 to obsess about, and 10 you must do

 
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Appears in this episode

Larry Cornett, Ph.D.
Do you want to make a living doing more of what you love? Are you ready to discover the power, freedom, and joy of solopreneurship? I'm Dr. Larry Cornett, a Business Advisor and Leadership Coach. I frequently work with frustrated employees who want to escape their 9-5 jobs and launch their own businesses someday. They want to maximize their lifetime earning potential, become invulnerable to economic instability, and take control of how they spend their days. I spent over 2 decades in the Silicon Valley tech industry and millions of dollars launching new businesses, products, and services. I've had some wins, and I've also learned how to avoid the mistakes many new business owners make. Over 12 years ago, I left my corporate career to build my own business to reclaim my freedom, health, and life. I want to help you do the same!
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Are you thinking about starting your first business? It can feel overwhelming, and it's too easy to focus on the wrong things.

In this article and podcast episode, I talk about:

  • Ten things to forget about.

  • Ten things to obsess about.

  • Ten things you must do.

I talk with many folks interested in quitting their 9-5 jobs and launching their own business. They look for helpful information online, but it frequently recommends many activities that aren’t that important when you’re first starting.

In fact, spending too much time on them is such a waste of energy that it jeopardizes your success. Many years ago, I was part of an entrepreneurial community. Everyone was excited, energetic, and bursting with cool business ideas.

Unfortunately, people love to spend too much time on the fun parts of designing and defining a new business. They focus on those activities so much that they don’t spend enough time on the fundamentals that will make or break the business. For example, a cool logo is fun to design but won’t keep your business alive if your customers aren’t happy.

Several years later, one of my friends from that community remarked, “I think we’re the only ones still in business with our original ideas.”

She was right. Most of the businesses had already failed and disappeared. A few people had shut down one or more business ideas and moved on to something new. Many folks went back — or stayed — in 9-5 jobs.

I will share more details in the podcast audio for this article. So, scroll up and listen to hear everything. There’s just too much I want to share, and I don’t want this newsletter to get too long.


Ten things to forget about — for now

Aspiring business owners should stop worrying so much about the ten items I share below.

Note: There is a big difference between a virtual business (e.g., career coaching) and a physical business (e.g., retail store, restaurant, bar, auto repair business). For example, some items below can be put off for the future when you’re running a consulting business online. But, if you have a physical business, you must deal with them before you can open your storefront.

Will they be necessary for every business at some point? Sure, some of them are necessary to address in a growing company.

But, some of them are still not that important for solopreneurs. So, it’s a waste of time and energy to focus on them before your business is even off the ground!

  1. Your business name.

  2. Your business structure (e.g., sole proprietorship, LLC, corporation).

  3. Your logo.

  4. Your branding elements.

  5. Professional photos.

  6. A fancy website.

  7. Business cards and letterhead.

  8. Scaling your business.

  9. Hiring employees.

  10. Being popular on social media.

Many of these things are putting the cart before the horse. Most waste your precious time and money when you can least afford to spend them.

With my first business, I had a paying client before I even had a business name, domain, website, or business email address. With my second business, I operated profitably for many years before forming an LLC.

One of my favorite local bakers creates gluten-free pastries, breads, and other delights. I’ve watched his business launch and grow over the past few years.

He did it the right way.

While other local businesses struggled or died during the pandemic, he thrived. He didn’t make the mistake I see many small businesses make. They dive right in and spend lots of money on a storefront, remodeling the space, hiring employees, etc.

This guy bakes out of a home kitchen certified under the Cottage Food Law monitored by the California Department of Health. He doesn’t have a storefront or retail space. He has no employees. It’s just him.

He started by delivering baked goods to your doorstep. Then, he partnered with local coffee shops, cafes, and restaurants to offer his treats in their retail space. He caters and holds events at wineries in their venues as a win-win.

His business is slowly growing, thriving, and expanding into more products when he knows customers want them — and he’s perfected the recipe. He’s always asking what we want next to ensure demand before wasting time and money on something customers won’t love.

Don’t focus on the wrong things when starting your business. There will be time to reevaluate and deal with them later. Right now, there are more important things you should be obsessing about.


Ten things to obsess about

Here are ten things you should obsess about:

  1. Your ideal customer.

  2. The problem they have.

  3. Your solution to their problem.

  4. What your core offer is.

  5. Your elevator sales pitch.

  6. Your product-market fit.

  7. Making customers happy.

  8. Building your email list.

  9. How you’re feeling.

  10. The lifestyle you’re creating.

I was talking with a friend about many of these items. You should always be customer-obsessed, but it’s the only way your business will survive in the early days. You won't last long if you don’t deliver value and make them happy.

That’s why it’s essential to fixate on who your ideal customer is and their problem that only you can solve with what your business offers. Also, selling feels easy when you know you have something that can genuinely improve someone’s life.

Why would you keep it a secret? Why would you not use it to help people?

And, when you have happy customers, you don’t want to lose touch with them. Don’t let social media, search, and other companies come between you and them. That’s why you should obsess about building your email list. You will always want a direct connection with your customers and potential customers.

Finally, one of the reasons I love solopreneur businesses is that you get to design your lifestyle. You decide when, where, and how you work. You can choose who you spend time with and how hard you want to work.

So yes, I want you to obsess over how you feel during this journey. Are you on the right track? Do you love what you’re building? Is it giving you the kind of lifestyle you want? And I’m not just talking about the money you’re making. I’m talking about the freedom and flexibility to live your life on your own terms.

With all of that being said, there are some things you must do if you want to run a functional business.


Ten things you must do

Here are some items you'll need to take care of to operate your business and get off to a good start. Some of these overlap with the obsession list.

  1. Talk with an accountant and lawyer to see what’s required for a new business where you live.

  2. You may need legal agreements and contracts ready, depending on the work you do (e.g., consulting with corporations).

  3. Have somewhere online where people can learn about your business and what you sell.

  4. Help potential customers discover you (e.g., marketing and maybe ads).

  5. Have a way for potential customers to contact you.

  6. Prepare your offer and create your pitch.

  7. Have a way to accept payments connected to your business bank account.

  8. Deliver real value to your customers.

  9. Get testimonials and reviews from happy customers.

  10. Retain your customers for repeat business and get those referrals!

I live in California in the U.S., so my experiences running my businesses here are pretty different than what others deal with in other U.S. states and certainly quite different from what you may experience in your country (e.g., stricter regulations).

Please take my advice with a grain of salt and speak with a local accountant and lawyer. They will help you navigate the legal requirements for starting and operating a business where you live. I don’t want you to get into trouble!

The items above are the critical components of any sustainable business model. People have to know your business exists, they have to be able to contact you and buy from you, and you have to be able to accept payments.

I know some of this sounds silly and obvious. But, you’d be surprised by the number of new business owners who don’t have an online presence, set up a new bank account, or have any way for them to accept payments from customers.

Then, they’re scrambling later when potential customers ask:

  • “Where can I learn more about your services?”

  • “How do I hire you?”

  • “How do I buy from you?”

  • “Where do I make a payment?”

Get the basics right with your new business first, then focus on your obsession list to build a thriving customer base. Reevaluate and deal with that first list later, after you’re up and running and ready for that level of detail.

Thank you for reading Invincible Solopreneurs. This post is public so feel free to share it.

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I’m Larry Cornett, a coach who can work with you 1-on-1 to design, launch, and optimize your business. You might also be interested in my “Employee to Solopreneur” workshop. I live in Northern California near Lake Tahoe with my wife and Great Dane while running my businesses 100% remotely.