Been There, Done That: A How-To Guide from a Real-World Entrepreneur

October 25, 2013 by  
Filed under Wind Energy Tips


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Small businesses represent more than 99.7 percent of all employers in the United States. How do you get yours off the ground and running? While I was taking Indie Peace from concept to company, I learned a few things — some the hard way.

Lawton Ursrey, CEO and Founder of Indie Peace — an environmentally responsible apparel company, and Product Marketing Manager of Sage One, a simple, online accounting application for small businesses — offers tips based on her personal experiences while starting out as an entrepreneur.

Warm up your wings before you leave the nest — or crash like a rock.

There are thousands of risks in starting a new company. Reducing those risks as much as possible beforehand is vital. It’s an unknown road, yes, but without the unknown, we don’t really have an entrepreneurial adventure on our hands. Foresee the ups and downs of your journey; no one else will do it for you, and it will also help you feel less stressed as you navigate uncharted territory. The clever predictions you’ve forged from your upfront due diligence will serve you well.

Welcome the opportunity to punch holes in your business — from everyone.

Entrepreneurial wisdom can be found in the strangest of places, but be careful where you seek it. Great advice can carry the side effect of fear, so maintain your energy throughout and let nobody dampen your flame. Most times, good advice from friends or family is exuberantly given from a personal obligation to see that you don’t fall on your face. Don’t let them take the wind out of your sails.

Validate what you see as real threats and have a system for solving them. Punching holes in your business will serve you extremely well. Leverage all the minds around you to mitigate risk while putting your pride aside.

Form your board of advisors: The Specialists.

Once you get past the embryonic phases of your business concept, one of the quickest and easiest ways to sidestep landmines is to form a team of advisors, ideally consisting of successful entrepreneurs who have made the journey at least once, and leverage their expertise and experiences often. Believe it or not, most entrepreneurs love helping other businesses. They miss the startup phase and like to join in the conversations. Start with one or two people that you can call at anytime for advice. Ask family members and friends to refer you to people they know. Look for “specialists” with knowledge in a specific area, such as obtaining funding or taking a new product to market. You don’t need anything formal and your “board” never even has to have official meetings. In fact, my personal board of advisors has never gathered together to meet since we’ve been in business, but I know I can call on each one of them to advise within their specialty.

Find your tribe.
Find the local, entrepreneurial tribes on the same journey as you and get involved. Attend all the events and discover the ones for you. Try,, LinkedIn entrepreneurial groups, and spend some time on Google searching for entrepreneur societies and small business groups in your city. If you cannot find anything, create your own. The university or college near your city will probably have an entrepreneur institute on campus. Contact the director and see how you can get involved.

Co-working facilities are my favorite places to connect locally. They cater to entrepreneurs and host mixers and business pitch nights to share ideas and contacts, and are great places to meet all types of local mavens; I met my developer at one. The most important thing is to be involved; after that, the possibilities will present themselves.

If your tribe is not present locally, find them digitally. Ask your social network to make recommendations.

Consider a doing well by doing good business model.

Many times, sadly, businesses are formed purely for making as much money as possible. Consider ways your company can give back versus take away; a business that assists in the collective cure versus the disease. Embed something you care about into your product or service. Don’t simply form a business to make something as cheaply as possible and sell it as expensively as possible. Create a product or service that will make you smile when you go to sleep at night. This will sustain you in your business and be the primary source of your passion.

This also makes it easy for you to grab people’s attentions and elevate their eagerness to help. New businesses usually cannot afford a lot of public relations (PR) and marketing. Here’s the great gift to building a business of purpose: people want to help the “good guys” — especially in the digital sphere.

Unless you’re creating a new market or disrupting one, you must find a way to separate your company from the “noise.” Enhance it with a social or environmental impact model. Be the small business you would like to see more of in the world. This may be tougher in the beginning, but in the long run it will generate more positive PR and social media buzz.

Sell the idea that your business is great in 30 seconds.

Nail down a succinct description of your business that you can communicate in 30 seconds or less. Know it by heart. Whether you’re taking to an investor, an advisor, or a random person at a football game, it’s essential that you describe your business consistently and effectively. This also helps sharpen the way you describe your company to press, video, social media, etc.

Unplug and unwind.
I still struggle with this today. Establish time for yourself unrelated to your business. You’ll find that some of the best new ideas and inspirations pop up when you’re not working.


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