Starting a business? Do this first

By Morf Morford
Tacoma Daily Index

Got an idea for a business? Sick of looking for a “job”? Want to “do it all”?

Do you have to do it your way? Got a better idea? Tired of working for someone else?

Even if none of those questions fit, you might want to start a business for your own reasons.

There is a plethora of books, videos and other resources at local libraries and online, but nothing beats talking face to face with someone who has been on the small business scene for along time.

According to Trip Advisor, there are almost 700 eating establishments in the greater Tacoma area. If you have a food idea in mind, what sets you apart from the businesses already established?

What can you do that no one else is doing? What is your special touch or gift that you are naturally good at?

What are you willing – even glad – to spend a huge amount of time on? Even if no one else “gets” what you are doing and any compensation is minimal if not seemingly delusional?

 

Strive not to be a success, but rather to be of value.           – Albert Einstein

 

The learning curve for starting a business can be intense, prepare to learn from everyone. Successful stories from legendary entrepreneurs (like Steve Jobs or Jeff Bezos) can be inspiring, but you can probably learn more from business disasters if not catastrophes.

I suggest keeping an eye on business journals like Inc. (https://www.inc.com/). I particularly like their portrayals of ideas in process like how to make your business more than a business (like this: https://www.inc.com/leigh-buchanan/small-business-week-2018-community-engagement.html?cid=hmsub1 or this: https://www.inc.com/young-entrepreneur-council/a-5-step-plan-for-responding-to-angry-customer-reviews.html?cid=hmside2).

Forbes (https://www.forbes.com/) has long standing roots in the business world but still carries a solid and reliable voice in the ever-changing economic landscape.

A reminder from the PLU campus. Photo: Morf Morford

A reminder from the PLU campus. Photo: Morf Morford

Harvard Business Review (https://hbr.org/) is another great free online source. Their “Popular topics” section is particularly good. Here are some recent columns on that ever elusive work/life balance – https://hbr.org/topic/work-life-balance?ab=Topics-Links-Popular_Topics. Here is another good article addressing learning as a habit (and if you want to succeed, you better make learning one of your major habits) https://hbr.org/2018/05/learning-is-a-learned-behavior-heres-how-to-get-better-at-it.

You could also take some official classes at Tacoma Community College or at various other places around town that would help you market your idea. Or check out SBDC, the Small Business Development Center, now in Puyallup and Tacoma.

You might want to begin with some videos and handouts to look at on your own schedule – http://wsbdc.org/training/instructional-video-series/.

In short, find some good sources, do whatever you can to find a solid mentor and perhaps most important of all, don’t let inaction sap the energy from your vision.

This tree planting advice applies to business as well: The best time to plant a tree was 20 years ago. The second best time is now.  – Chinese Proverb