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Old 4 April 2018, 14:35
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MixedLoad MixedLoad is offline
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Watch the entire series of "How to Start a Startup" on YouTube if you're launching a software company...and then watch them again.

If you're building a products or services based company, watch them anyways. You're guaranteed to learn something.

How to Start a StartUp
“Suaviter in modo, fortiter in re"
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Old 6 April 2018, 04:14
TypicalFish TypicalFish is offline
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Originally Posted by HighDragLowSpeed View Post
I would add:

- Agressively seek out very honest criticism about the business model from people that have started successful business and, better yet, failed at a business before being successful.

- Really take the above advice even when they "call your baby ugly". It is what it is

- Watch the Shark Tank marathons. If you have a tech idea or really want outside capital, listen to critique that Mark Cuban has. His questions and concerns are about as reflective of every successful VC I've known. I regularly tell friends that start tech businesses that it is free consulting that only costs you your time.

- "Your product isn't your business". The biggest mistake you can make is knowing your product but not knowing or having a plan for the business. Most businesses fail for this reason. Until you're paying yourself a salary and making a profit solely from revenues, it's a hobby not a business.

- Get your binding legal agreements in place early for any partners and for your customers. Those shortcuts and handshake agreements you take early on will likely come back around and not in a good way once real money is involved.

- A tidbit I learned early on: There are good customers and there are "grinders". Grinders negotiate far below market value for your product/service, willl wear you out with their demands, and will take resources from searching for good customers. Grinders can be large companies too. The more your differentiation is on price, the more grinders you'll attract. Diferentiate on something other than price otherwise the customer perception is that you can be taken advantage of since you don't know your value and you'll always be racing to a zero price point as competition increases and customers hear about your other customers' pricing.

This. In spades. I got AMTDirect their first break with a big customer (Enterprise Rent-A-Car) based on a handshake with the twin brothers who run the company at a convention in Las Vegas.

A year later, I go back for my annuity, and it's "What do you mean? We never talked about that".

Pieces. Of sh*t. Lesson learned.
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Old 8 April 2018, 20:57
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brcannon brcannon is offline
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Originally Posted by GotSig? View Post
Take your final Capital needs and multiply by 2.5

Take your final revenue projections and divide by 1.5
Excellent point.

My business (real estate) is finally becoming profitable and paying dividends almost 3 years after I started it. Ran out of money and had to re-join the rat race 2 years ago.
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Old 26 April 2018, 20:23
Instruct1 Instruct1 is offline
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So much solid wisdom in this thread. I would add, and IMO and from past and present experience, there’s some significant differences between a local brick and mortar business, and one that’s online nationwide and beyond. The dedication, hard work and business acumen requirements are pretty much the same, but one needs to take heed in the negative and shady forces out there in the world of e-commerce and global sectors. If you’re successful or are in a competitive business or field, these issues can take you out of business if you’re not careful.

1) Get someone to run your social media accounts, so you can run your business. I know there are some solid folks on here that do this, get the help. It’s an art to properly manage social media for business, as your brand is competing with your customers who continually see top notch social media and online creative work from the biggest brands in the world. This area can make or break you if your business is online.

2) In relation to number one, there will be trolls and competitors who will try and sabotage your business through your business social media profiles and accounts – aiming to stir up shit for fun or customers away from you. This is very hard to deal with, and needs to be dealt with tactfully. Like previously mentioned, a dedicated social media person or company will be better prepared to deal with this. You would not imagine the shady stuff that’s out there, and that will come at you when you’re doing good.

3) Check your social media accounts and public records( like mentioned in another post). There is good chance that your past comments, name, address, etc, will be linked to you and your business, and accessible by everyone. People will call or drag you on issues. Privacy wise, when you file for incorporation or buy a website domain with your personal info, your info becomes public record in many scenarios. If you want privacy, don’t ever use your home address when submitting state incorporation papers or registering a website domain. Get a virtual office and use that address if you are working from home. Once your stuff is out there, it’s over.

4) Bad guys behind keyboards looking to exploit you through social engineering and other methods. Again, there are folks here who know about this very well. But there will be times where shady people here and OCONUS, will try and reach out to you with nefarious intentions. While your looking for new customers, contacts or investments, these clowns can get mixed in with all the excitement and be overlooked. Be cognizant at all times, of the people and entities that reach out to you.

5) Be aware of patent and trademark infringement. Many times these issues won’t come up until you are doing good and making money. Get a good lawyer and make sure your business or product is covered. If your're successful, you'll probably going to get sued a few times no matter what.

6) Continuing from the above, if you do come up with a business and website name and they are available, lock them down concurrently and immediately-like the same day! You can get the website domain name, but somebody snatches the trademark name- problem. You can get the trademark name and someone snatches the website domain name-problem. There are people out there waiting for these exact scenarios, so they can sell things back to you at extremely high cost, or sue the shit out of you.

7) Don’t give your company equity away so soon or easily. If you can, bootstrap it. If you like being in-charge and have the business savviness to do so, an outside stakeholder in many cases will make things different for you and your company. You may want to grow slowly, save the penguins, or whatever, but most investors want money, and some don’t DGAF about your personal aspirations. They can easily influence and compromise your business and mission.

At the end of the day running a business can be very rewarding in so many ways, and not just financially. But make no mistake, if you’re doing good, there will be folks that you’ll come across that deserve a few punches in the fk’n face. And it will be very hard to resist.

Last edited by Instruct1; 26 April 2018 at 20:36. Reason: spelling
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Old 3 May 2018, 00:42
doitforjonny doitforjonny is offline
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Understand the SME syndrome, which SOF folks are particularly vulnerable to.

Just because you built the best thingy-majig, does not mean that your customers will see the value as obviously as you do. Talking and selling the value of your product is not only not arrogant, but is absolutely necessary to grow a business. If you can't do it, find someone who can that does not turn your stomach in the process of it.

Don't work with friends or family, or their money.

Don't rely on 'bro' hookups, they happen on 'bro' time, and you will end up sacrificing friendships or destroying your business or both.

Your business is a living organism. If you don't treat it that way it will starve and die. Sales (money coming in) are its food.

Selling is the fucking mission. Don't be arrogant about your product.

Also, believe in your product enough that you are willing to put your name and reputation behind it. If you are not willing to do that, keep your day job or find a project you can do that with.

Understand what a 'stale account receivable' is.

Buzz and positive product response is not the same thing as success.

Establish some form of success metric that makes sense to you. Actually set goals that are near and long term and revisit them regularly.

Use as much as humanly possible.

Don't try and start a business while you are contracting overseas, go get your MBA instead and THEN start your business.

Don't waste a ton of money doing all the formal set up for business before you have at least 5-10k in under the table sales to justify start up expenses.

Don't hide from social media.

Make sure you don't make large purchases that suck up all your working capital or you will bonk - ie make mistakes that you don't have the funds on hand to recover from, then have to refinance, and the opportunity to execute on the recently learned lesson is lost, because any momentum associated with it dies during the time it takes you to recapitalize.
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Old 3 May 2018, 10:41
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Silverbullet Silverbullet is offline
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Control costs
Generate more money than you spend
Hire only when you can't continue to grow without FTE(s)
Lease don't buy big items
Don't put all your eggs in one baseket. (Limited clients, one product or service)
Some friends and members of the Brotherhood will hose or badmouth you. Get over it and let it go.
Walk away from asshole clients

Those were the foundation I used.
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Old 3 May 2018, 12:23
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Soutpiel Soutpiel is offline
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Originally Posted by Silverbullet View Post
Walk away from asshole clients
Very pertinent point above. Do it sooner rather than later. I can't stress it enough. Most of the time you know they will be asshole clients from your first meeting with them so don't ignore your instincts.
Shutting down the global economy due to a random illness is a mix of fascism, cowardice, and utter stupidity.
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Old 15 May 2018, 14:50
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SSG Surf SSG Surf is offline
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A lot of great advice here. My business was founded in 2013 but didn't get full attention until I retired from my other line of work in Dec 2015. I cannot stress the importance of business plans, corporate briefs/corporate capability statements, accounting, articles of organization of the company and company type.

The mentorship topic is absolute gold, plus programs by the SBA or other entities that offer mentoring and workshops for free or little costs. There is a lot of help out there and people who want to see you succeed if you reach out.

I am fortunate in that I found some mentors who are helping with mentoring my company and myself. Also, I am actively seeking an SBA registered mentor/protege alignment with a larger company. As a potential 8(a) Native Hawaiian company, there are some great opportunities for a mentor/protege alignment with my company. This could allow for future "Joint Ventures" and great opportunities when it comes to sole source set aside contracts with the Federal Government. An excellent vehicle for companies to leverage.

I leave tonight for my first business trip to DC. I am traveling with some key people that are helping me in my process, so mentorships and networking are huge especially for those attempting to break into the Government contracting world which is often a tough nut to initially crack when you're seeking to Prime. Any personal advice for my company and myself from those here already operating in this realm is always greatly appreciated!
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Old 16 May 2018, 00:41
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Soutpiel Soutpiel is offline
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Originally Posted by SSG Surf View Post
....... .break into the Government contracting world which is often a tough nut to initially crack ....
Interesting that you mention that.
I was an "accredited service provider" with the south african government departments, which was quite an achievement considering I counted zero points on their racist BEEE qualifying process, but I walked away from it eventually because it dawned on me that they fell into the "asshole client category" that Silverbullet previously mentioned.
Jumping through hoops for many months prior to each potential contract, cutting to the bone on an awarded contract, and then very many months chasing faceless clerks for your money.
People couldn't fathom why I walked away from the prized dangling carrot but it just didn't make business sense for a business my size to stay in the loop.
Shutting down the global economy due to a random illness is a mix of fascism, cowardice, and utter stupidity.
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