One Year Young
One year ago on this day, I founded my company. It's called Web Inspect, Inc.—a small web development agency for hire.
This company, in its first year, is profitable. I earn payroll every month, with taxes deducted like a regular business, and there's always a little money left over for months that run a little lean. I have yet to have a month where I spend more money than I earn, which is a great start for an entrepreneurial endeavor.
For all the world it looks like an overnight success, like I just one day decided to start my own company, and everything has been good ever since.
What you may not realize is that this is my fourth try at starting my own company, and the first that has made me any money. After my first year in my fourth company, I've learned a few things that have made a big difference for me in the last year. This are the big ones.
Start with “Why”
If you aim at nothing, you'll hit it every time. - Zig Ziglar
Every business, like every individual, needs to start with a “why”. Starting a business is not an easy feat, nor is it cheap, so you better have a good reason for why you're putting yourself through this.
For me, I got married two years ago, and I had my first child a few months ago. This is my why, the reason I'm building a business: to support my growing family.
This alone is not enough, because there are plenty of easier ways to support a family. But it's a start. There is now a face on my struggle, a face I can look at whenever things get tough, a face to keep me going.
Start with why. Make sure it's real, and the most important thing for you.
Build a Team
In the first year of my company, I have worked with more people than in any other job I've ever had.
For a client-based business like my own, that comes with the territory. I deal with a dozen different people every week, and those are just the people I work for.
I also have a whole host of people who work for me. No employees yet, but I have an accountant, an attorney, a financial advisor, and a business advisor, and they all work to keep my life and business on track. Without these people I would've had a nervous breakdown years ago, long before I even had a chance to build what I've built.
With these people, I'm able to stay on task, focus on the things that make the business work, and leave the details to the pros.
Build a team. And make sure they're the best you can get.
Get the Best Tools for the Job
This is now your business. You are the boss. You are also the employee. This is a complicated relationship to navigate within yourself.
As the boss, you need to realize that your employees (especially yourself) are the most important thing for your business. Without those employees you wouldn't be in business.
As the employee, it's tempting to try to penny pinch to save “the boss” some money here and there. Resist this temptation.
Remember you are the boss, and it is your job to buy your employees the best things, so that they can work as effectively as possible. Without the employee, there is no business.
Get the right tools, get the best tools. Anything less is not good enough.
Build Great Systems
Do you have a hook to hang your car keys on when you get home? I do, and it's an excellent system. Every time I come home, I hang my keys, and I never lose my keys.
This is a system. A simple system: hang the keys, so you can find the keys.
Every company needs systems, ways that they work to maintain their quality, consistency, and timeliness. Developing robust systems should be your #1 priority as boss, because without systems your company will fail, or at least waste a ton of time.
I often repeat the same set of actions 5-10 times before I realize that I need a system. Once I build the system, everything improves.
You need systems. Build great ones.