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Starting a Startup

I had the opportunity to attend Boise Startup Week events yesterday. I attended six different sessions and took away something impactful and important from each one. If you are thinking of starting a business or already in business for yourself I want to share what I learned with you. Sitting among other people trying to do the same thing you are trying to do is powerful. Just knowing that you are not alone in your struggles, makes the journey easier.

Business is hard at every stage– The speaker for this session was discussing the challenges of going from an idea to a startup business to a scale-up business to a growing company. The startup has to do everything and everyone wears multiple hats. Then to grow you have to hire help and relinquish control and fill a leadership role. You need to be comfortable with change and willing to move, pivot and transition when it is time.

You have to know what you want – The speaker for this session is the owner of a 3-D printer farm that manufactures hardware. He discussed how expensive it is to move forward without having a very clear idea of what you want. Then even more time consuming and expensive if you insist on cutting corners, hiring cheap help and not spending time doing market research. He suggested trying to “kill” your good idea with every objection someone could have. Only then will you have the necessary fortitude to bring it to market.

Believe in yourself – Imagine coming from the poorest country in Africa and being dropped into Boise without knowing how to speak English. Then standing in front of a business conference just a few years later as an accomplished web developer. Just being in a room with an individual that took a huge leap of faith like this is motivational. My favorite thing this gentleman said is “if you think you can’t do something, don’t ever let yourself have that thought again”.

It’s all about the process– The asset of your business is having all of the processes figured out to produce a product and provide customer service. The speaker stated this is the reason “franchises” are popular. He advocated having every process written down and perfected. The secret to being a successful business is working “on” your business more than you are working “in” your business. Being “busy” is not a good excuse for not spending time on strategy, budgets and hiring the right people.

Start now– When asked about the one thing they would have done differently these two co-founders of a million dollar business said they wish they would have started sooner. If they could have known they would have been this successful they wouldn’t have hesitated so long. All the planning they did just changed along the way anyway. You don’t know until you actually do it. So quit analyzing and go for it.

Carve out your niche– This female panel of business owners have the goal not have to qualify the name of their session with “female” entrepreneurs, but just to be invited to the panels with all the men on them. Each of these women found their place in crowded industries by being themselves and offering something unique. They explained how competition actually made their businesses better by educating consumers and offering more options.

I wish I could go to an event like this once a week or once a month. I need that injection of motivation and hope. If anyone is interested in helping me start a meetup, a book club or a coffee hour for business owners, let me know.

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