More than I can appreciate I am asked questions about my business or starting a business. At times it seems as though I'm a magnet when I'm at business incubators, meetings, group discussions, seminars… Not that I'm complaining. I quite enjoy speaking to and meeting people but I'm not huge on crowds and attention.
Because of my experience I thought I would put together questions that I am frequently asked (literally over and over again). I actually believe these questions are very common but I do hope that you gain something from my answers and journey.
First a bit about me. I'm a geek. I'm a geek in life, love, action, deed, work, play, business and in just about anything else you can think of? Basically I'm geek at my core, everything else revolves around that. I finished college in two years. I didn't graduate but I did wake up one day and say “I'm finished with this!” I've sold records, vacuums (door-to-door) and even cosmetics among other things.
A turning point in my entrepreneurship journey came when a man returned home for lunch to find me with his wife. I was giving a demo of the latest vacuum (actually she was showing her friends and I was eating). The comment from her husband was “You got her to cook for you and vacuum? You're wasting your time selling vacuums.” I sold four vacuums that day at full bore and got a new job from her husband who owned a car dealership. I started selling cars and did that until boredom set in, then spent time as an orator, state trooper, y2k fixer, project manager, software engineer and executive.
By 2007 I was working as a director for a automotive supplier, making a six figure salary and on around 80% travel. Nearing the end of that year I was on my umpteenth a business trip and ninth or tenth country for the year. I had more air miles than I could gift or use myself. I knew more flight attendants, gate agents, pilots and airline personnel than I had friends. Walking the cobblestone streets of what has to be my favorite European city (that I've discovered so far) and partaking of the uniqueness I had a thought. I was working sixty plus hours a week and what I had to look forward to was a vice president position (my bosses job) and working eighty hours plus a week. If I committed sixty plus hours a week to my own business how great would that be?
Later I crafted my resignation while on the plane “home”, printed it in the business lounge at the airport, faxed it to my department secretary and eventually delivered it to my boss. When I handed it to her she was on a phone call (she was always on the phone or in a meeting not because she was female but because she worked eighty plus hours). She did eventually break herself away, called me into her office and proclaimed “I'm not accepting this!” as she literally shredded my resignation letter. I was then handed a bonus check that I was not expecting as she suggested that I had work to do. My thought was “Yay, money to start my business!”
Two weeks later I turned in my company, laptop, cell phone, car, credit card… and I was free even though my boss proclaimed “I told you that I didn't accept your resignation.” As if that meant I had to stay?
So that's my start of sorts? I actually see entrepreneurial journeys as more of an odyssey, maybe not something you can quantify with a start. I was just as much as an entrepreneur knocking on doors with a vacuum in my hand, as I was when I was closing seven figure corporate deals, as I was selling wares from the trunk of my car. Shawn Carter put it in the terms of “I'm not a businessman, I'm a business, man.”
When is a good time to start a/(my) business?
How did you start your business?
What major would you suggest for a entrepreneur?
How did you finance your business?
Where can I get the funds to start my business?
What kind of business should I start?
I can’t actually believe I get this question? If you don’t know what business you should start then how do I know what business you should start? I typically go for passion over what might be practical. The keys for me are:
Do I need a lawyer to start a business?
Certainly you could probably handle all of the steps to start a business but there is nothing wrong with getting some assistance as needed. Keeping with the frugal mindset search out free or low cost resources in your area. Often you will find that there are free city, state or non-profit assistance to get you started.
Also resources like LegalZoom.com or RocketLawyer.com are great as well.
Do I need a business plan?
No, you don’t need business plan but it helps. I don’t plan much but I also quit my job during a time work would have been shut down and I could have gotten paid. Maybe there is something to be said for planning?
On another note, if you are planning assistance from outside funding sources most likely you will require a business plan. I know of a resource that offers free small business services but you will need a business plan to take full advantage of their offerings. They offer help with writing your business plan as one of the first steps.
roy darling *my posts seem a lot shorter in my head
This is great! Thank you for sharing RD! I had to read a few sentences twice.... (husband finding you...) but it pulled me in when I realized where it was all going! Not many will realize how successful you've been, and that's a testament to your humbleness. Congrats and thank you for sharing!
You're welcome on the modem thing! There are actually dial-up ring-tones for your phone...
What excellent story and such sage advice! Clearly we entrepreneurs just can't help ourselves! 😉
I thankfully haven't had a cell phone some I handed that one in. Plus you really can't get that same feeling without the anticipation of connecting? I remember the horror of doing something online and running out of minutes or having my mom pick up a phone extension and getting disconnected. Thanks @Muse
roy darling *my posts seem a lot shorter in my head