I love LinkedIn and appreciate its value. However, I read too many questions about starting businesses that are much too academic. Maybe because of entrepreneurship studies at universities? For many entrepreneurs, starting a business was a visceral need. My wife and I started our business from a spare room and worked eight and a half months without a day off, from early morning to late into the night! We didn’t calculate and plan to the extreme: we just did it!. It was something we “had to do.”
My business plan was based upon behaviors. I woke up early every morning and ran two miles. It was self-discipline and important to have a lot of energy. It was the behavior of a winner! I identified how many phone calls I had to make to set a certain number of appointments, and then how many appointments I would need to make in order to actually close sales. Then I’d simply dial the phone and execute. Naturally, I kept track of phone dials, contacts, appointments, and closed sales. And the sales came, as they always did when I worked for other companies. This preceded the internet, social media, and inbound marketing.
Focusing on one behavior that made everything else happen helped me avoid the fear of bootstrapping a business. It was familiar and comfortable. And when I hired salespeople and they made phone calls, appointments, and sales, I knew what my ROI was. And they knew I had “walked in their shoes.” In fact, I was right beside them selling every day. Good records were essential.
I had one client who started his business because he got laid off, bought a machine, put it in his garage and started manufacturing products for one customer. That customer grew, so he bought another machine, another customer came along and 20 years later this client has 15 machines, 35 employees and many customers. Another client decided not to relocate and started a small company to compete with his previous employer. He has grown from three employees to 50 over the years. And we have been working together for 37 years! There are many stories like that. These are the “everyday entrepreneurs” you don’t read about. The small business folks who never took a course in entrepreneurship.
Many years ago, I remember asking a new client why he went into business for himself and he replied, “Because I am fundamentally unemployable.” That answer stopped me in my tracks! He continued, “Yes, I can’t work for anyone else.” That answer was brilliant. That is the “real” experience for many small business owners. For whatever reason, they didn’t believe they had any other choice but to go into business for themselves and failure was not an option.
© 2014 Steven M. Stroum