What not to do – do not “put the cart before the horse”
As business owners we start out wanting to learn everything immediately, yesterday in fact! However, it takes time and there is nothing better than the lessons we learn from experience.
I have met many an entrepreneur who is starting out on their journey full of unbridled enthusiasm and determination to succeed, excited by the potential and often sure that they have all the answers. I love and admire this energy. This energy is essential in business and needs to be supported by a willingness to be practical as well.
What does “putting the cart before the horse” mean?
It is defined as; ‘reverse the proper order or procedure of something.’
Is it Necessary
This saying refers to wanting to do something before you need to, wanting to acquire something before you actually need it and leaving the crucial pieces as after thoughts. Sometimes, we want the fancy all ‘singin’ all dancin’ website, glitzy uber flashy business cards and all the accessories straight away and who wouldn’t.
But, and here is the “but,” what do you need first? What should be the priority? In a business you need some specifics first, a viable concept, an accountant, a professional business plan, informed and qualified advice. Also, the key piece, a business model for consistent cashflow.
Boot-strapping can help you to start smart.
Choose Only What You Need
When I started my business, I did not have the “spondoolies” or funds to spend a whole lot on a fancy website or beautiful collateral. Choose what you really need and if there are options that are free or economical then do consider them. You will upgrade at another stage as your business grows and if your business grows you should go up a notch and then reinvest into a more able website and business collateral.
My first website was a free webpage prepared by yours truly. However, as the business grew this changed and I invested into a professionally designed site and again recently we have invested yet again into the website. Fundamentally, all the bootstrapping helps to keep outgoings down and allows sales and growth to be developed and consistent cashflow established.
Invest in knowledge
Knowledge is king in business and as you develop your business there are certain pieces you should invest in first. I would recommend that start-ups learn a little about their accounts and how the money flows in and out of the business. This is important.
I have an accountant and I have staff who look after our accounts. But initially I decided to do a course to learn more and understand how to do some of my accounts myself, before I handed them to my accountant at the end of the year. As a business owner, you need to know what is coming in and what is going out of your business.
I would also recommend that you engage in courses with like-minded business owners and learn from others. I learn so much from other business owners and from my clients and I am grateful for that opportunity and for that experience, it is more valuable than you can appreciate at times.
I engaged in a course in my first two years in business and it was immense in terms of being able to converse and discuss business with other business owners and to learn from a recognized professional. Continue to learn, knowledge is king and the return on your investment is priceless.
Real life Example 1: Successful Irish tech
This innovative tech business started in the spare bedroom of the founder’s house with no real budget to speak of. They knew they needed to engage interest and validate the business first and foremost and learn. The business is now at home in a beautifully built modern business center and it is going from strength to strength.
Example 2: National Irish Online brand
The two gents who started this businesses, came to meet me over 15 years ago with an idea that they believed in and it was progressive. They started with just their laptops and their determination. They had no big budget. Today, this business is a really well recognized application and brand.
Example 3: An Irish Agri food business that flourished
This Agri food business came to me at the start of their journey. They had a belief and determination to make their business sustainable, along with a limited budget and the need to keep their costs down. They also recognized that they needed to learn and invest in valuable pieces for business growth. They needed knowledge and support, that’s’ where I came in. And now, 5 years later, they are fully fledged with an ecommerce site, new offerings and lots of new opportunities on the horizon.
In summary, do not decide I need to get all the fancy super jazzy pieces first. You don’t. There are short term options. Your first priority is to validate your business and create cashflow.
Bootstrapping works for a start-up if they want to limit their early costs and their initial risks. Knowledge is juicy, it adds strength to you and to your business. Take the time to learn every day.
Don’t’ run before you can walk.
My Top Secret
The majority of successful businesses or brands started with zero backing and worked on a shoestring. “Slow and steady will win the race.”
Be practical and keep things simple. Invest back into your business as it grows.