Monthly Archives: January 2013

The Realities Of Starting A Business

Why do you want to be successful?

The first thing most people will say when answering that question will have something to do with money.

“I want to be rich!”

“I want a million dollars!”

Or they’ll say something that is somehow related to having a lot of money, like they want a maid, or a Lamborghini, or their own private island, etc.  They want to live like a baller.

Running your own business often requires you to do the opposite of living like a baller, though.  Especially at the beginning, you often need to be as frugal as possible for two reason:

1) much of your money will be getting put into the business, which means you might not have that much money to spend, anyway.

2) you aren’t going to be getting a regular paycheck, so you cannot count on getting a specific amount on a certain day in the future, so you have to try and make the money you do have last as long as possible.

Let’s talk a bit more about these for a bit.  Nearly any venture you undertake will require startup capital.  Maybe you’re franchising a restaurant.  That costs money.  Maybe you’re printing t-shirts for a clothing line.  That costs money.  Even if you’re doing something that doesn’t require any supplies, you’ll still need to spend money on advertising.  The less money you have because you’ve spent it on cool stuff for yourself, the less money you’ll have to put into your business.  Sure, maybe you could buy a BMW, but buying a used Honda Civic would give you a lot more cash to work with (the exception to this being if your company image somehow relies on the vehicle you drive, for example if you’re a real estate agent).

Number 2.  When most people transition from working for the man to being the man (or woman!), one of the most shocking realities is the lack of a constant paycheck.  People tend to base their spending around that regular paycheck.  Their budgeting revolves around it.  They’ll say things like “I’ll get that next week after I get paid on Friday.”  When you’re starting your own business, that doesn’t exist anymore.  You might go a period of weeks or months without any income.  Are you prepared to face the realities of that?  In order to survive during this time you may need to take some steps to become more frugal.  Eat ramen.  Move into a smaller apartment.  Sell your furniture.  Sleep on a futon.  Find the lowest car insurance rates you can find, or better yet, sell your car (if you live in a downtown city; I wouldn’t sell my car if I lived in the suburbs).  Cook food in bulk and eat leftovers.  Cancel your cable (TV, not internet).  Why are you watching TV, anyway?  You have a business to run.  Go to the $2 theater that shows old movies.  That’s your life while you’re getting started.

Is it worth it?

Absolutely.

Backup Everything

This is kind of one of those things that everyone knows they should do, but few people actually take the time to do consistently.

Always.  Make.  Backups.

Now, I’m not even talking about how important this is for your home computer with all your person files on it.  It’s one thing if your hard drive crashes or whatever and you lose all your music and videos and pictures and papers that you wrote back in high school and whatever else you had saved on there for sentimental reasons.  And indeed, it’s a tragic thing.

But it’s something entirely different if you lose a hard drive with business stuff on it: client information, proprietary information, financial records, etc.  You are quite screwed if you lose that.  What if the notes for the project you’re working on for a client disappeared?  How would you feel if you had to call them and say “btw, we need to have that meeting again because I lost our notes”?  Or what if your expense record vanished?  Have fun doing your taxes when you no longer have a record of how much you paid for what things.

Always back everything up with multiple redundancies.  External hard drives.  Thumb drives.  Email things to yourself.  Online (cloud) storage.

Actually, that last one is the one area I want get into.  Right now, my backup process involves copying everything onto an external hard drive, and copying the important files onto a thumb drive.  I also email myself a copy of all the important files every so often so I have a copy of them sitting on my email server as well.  But I want to learn more about cloud storage.  If you’re not quite up to date like me, the “cloud” is just another term for “online.”  Storing something “on the cloud” means “on the internet.”  I don’t know why they came up with another word for it, but they did.  Anyway, what it means is you keep a backup of your files on a server so you can access them from anywhere.  Not only is this useful in case you need to recover your files, but you can also access them from wherever you have internet access, which can make business trips easier since you don’t have to worry about bringing the files with you.  But like with anything, there are a few different providers offering that type of service, so I’ve been reading some cloud storage reviews to try and figure out which one will be best for me.

I know, I already have 3 layers of backup, but since we’re talking business data that I really don’t want to lose, I don’t think there’s anything wrong with taking extra precautions.

Not to mention, I don’t want to lose all my music, either!

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