CJ Comu is a 30 year global serial entrepreneur – featured in magazine covers, television shows, radio shows and live on stage presentation and panels leading and teaching people around the world on the fundamentals of being an entrepreneur and the risks involved in running that race.
Here is what he had to say about the Top 10 Ways you can START your Start Up…
Every man or woman around the world wants to start a business to be successful, rich and famous. But as the United States Marines say, “everyone wants to go to Heaven – but nobody wants to die for it”.
Starting a business requires a basic foundation and skill set. Some of these steps I will discuss. I’ve learned much over the past 30+ years in building ventures from; software, energy, manufacturing, technology to franchising, electric cars, consumer goods and even the fight business. I’ve had the pleasure of operating in a global platform with operations in 20 countries and Founder/CEO of numerous Private & Public Companies.
Love what you are embarking upon. This must be an obsession. Will Smith the famous Actor when interviewed was asked why he is chosen when so many other Actors are not for a role. His reply was “I will die for the role – meaning he would literally do anything and risk his life for it”. Is that something you are willing to do? Do you have what it takes it? Can you handle the rejection, the frustration, the humiliation, the pain and every other variable think that could and will go wrong? Can you pivot, adjust and scramble if you see water coming into the ship. What other resources can you reach out to – what is your contingency plan?
Keep your plan/idea/business simple. If you can’t explain your business model in 60 seconds on what it is – then you need to re-set and focus. The elevator pitch is a term used in the industry for those (VC’s) that get pitched deal after deal. After a while they get so jaded that if you can’t get their attention in 60 seconds – then chances are you won’t go to the next round. Be visual, be specific but most importantly be on point.
Stay lean and mean and cut all unnecessary expenses. The bottom line in your financial model is “how does this business generate a profit”? Many Entrepreneurs are in a rush to gain status day one. The business card, the address, the story the marketplace. There is time for ALL of this but not on day one. Be quiet, be nimble and be careful. Those that you meet on your journey may not all be offering you a fresh glass of orange juice.
Find the best talent you can afford. One of the classic lines in business is “if you are the smartest guy in the room – you are in the wrong room”. Every Company has numerous ways to compensate “talent”. Cash, Stock, Options, Bonus, Commission, Deferred Compensation, Title, Perks and any other combination of the above. You can also decide up front if someone wants to be a “partner” or an “employee”. It’s very important to understand the distinction. A partner does not get a salary (right away) but gets a (%) vested interest in the business. They are issued a task and as they hit it the company value increases as such their equity increases. However, an employee gets a salary to do a job. If after a period of time the company sells or goes public – they are not traditionally entitled to equity as they got paid to work. Its tough love.
Know what your expertise is and be an expert. Many people that read news hear people referred to as “experts”. These people are sought out by the press/media when it comes to interviews on any specific subject matter; Politics, Finance, Technology, Retail, etc… If you are an expert in your business, then you will have the edge and advantage on beating your competitor and gaining greater market share and awareness.
Innovate with customer demands and changes in industry. Remember Kodak? They made some of the greatest Camera’s & Film. They did not innovate OR change with the times (mobile phone/device revolution) and went bankrupt selling FILM when the world went digital. Always think!!
There’s nothing Private in a Start Up at work. If you have found the right people to build your business – then tear down the walls and remove the doors. Your business needs to breed a new level of groove and make sure that the people there are there to contribute and not take (your time and energy). There are people out there and you can flush them out by having a healthy open work environment that should breed enthusiasm and mind share. Remember you get up to make money – not play pong!
Pace yourself. Nothing goes from 0-100 in 6 seconds unless you are building Ferrari Engines. Learn the art of building milestones and building a business where you can measure steps and success. Business is a Marathon and not a 100-yard sprint. This is important for your peace of mind, your cash flow and burn and how quickly you get out of the gates. Another principle I talk about in business is “measure twice – cut once”. Sometimes we are in such a hurry to “launch” that after a mistake or haste we end up further back plus the added expense & time to recover.
Focus on your One Key strategic selling point. What is the ONE thing that people can remember and buy into? What value proposition do you offer and what is it about your business that is so compelling to the marketplace? Be an expert (See Step 5) in your field and be known to have the BEST product/service for the future of your company.
Be Brave and Be Bold. Try to build a business on something that is revolutionary and has the ability to have a legacy. If not, then you are running the risk of a “fad” and with that you run a higher risk of loss and chaos. Once you have figured out the model and once you are ready to roll – then the answer will be your execution plan. If you are right – you are a Rock Star – if you are wrong – you own it. Be smart and be careful what you ask for – dreams are only a mouse click from reality.