Monday, October 13, 2014

8 things you should do before starting a new venture

Notice that the title says venture. It doesn't matter whether it is a for-profit or nonprofit, these 8 tips will make your start-up life easier.

1. Define your reason for starting something new.
It doesn't matter whether it’s a charitable cause or a retail business, if no one needs what you are going to invest a lot of your time and energy in, or there are a million others doing the same thing,  it has a greater-than-average chance of failure.

2. Define your strengths and weaknesses.
No, not the strengths and weaknesses of your business or nonprofit idea. Your strengths and weaknesses. Maybe you are an antisocial recluse, but you make beautiful handbags. It doesn't matter what your personal pros and cons are, only that you recognize them honestly.

3. Recruit supporters that complement your weaknesses, not your strengths.
In the example above, you would look for people that love social interaction and marketing to pitch your beautiful handbags to the world.

4.  Set attainable goals.
Sure, you have a vision of what your venture will look like when it is a mature business or nonprofit, but give yourself a break. Start with smaller but attainable goals. Nothing breeds success like success, so set yourself up to win.

5. Don't let an occasional failure defeat you.
If you are trying, then you are going to fail in something at some point. Use it as a learning experience and move on. If you are failing constantly, see #6.

6. Be flexible.
It doesn't do any good to build a better mousetrap if there are no mice to catch. Don't get stuck on a mental one-way street. If there are no mice, and mice eat cockroaches, there might now be too many cockroaches, so build a better cockroach trap. Adapt to survive.

7. Accept that you can't do everything.
Rigid things break more easily than flexible things. Some things are worth doing yourself, but insisting on doing everything yourself will eventually lead to nothing being done quite right. Learn when and how to ask for help and accept it graciously.

8. Don't ignore proven methods just because you think they are old school.
The reason some methods hang around for decades or even centuries is because they work. It's fine to innovate, but if the innovation doesn't produce a better quality result or produce it faster or more economically, then it's a waste of money, time, energy or all three.

You may have noticed that all of these hints are about you.

There are a jillion tools out there for you to use in building your new venture, but in the end, it will all boil down to you.

I write all sorts of B2B, B2C and nonprofit verbiage. Grants, brochures, marketing copy, web copy, blog posts, press releases, you name it and I've probably done it for someone.

The things I write are tools. The online courses you see advertised are tools. Formal education is a tool. The shiny new computers and smart phones are tools.

The thing about tools is they need someone to pick them up, learn about them, and then use them, and that's you.

If master these eight things, you are going to be head and shoulders above most of your start-up peers.

Have questions? Feel free to contact me at Let's talk!