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Turn off the computer and start your business

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Business Wire

(Read caption) Cornwall advises that small business owners step away from the computer and start finding some real live customers.

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Here is a sampling of quotes from first-time entrepreneurs that I hear in my office.

“I am trying to get my business card just right – does it look better with a horizontal layout or a vertical one? And do you think this font is OK?”

“We think that after working on it for the past six months that our business plan is just about finished.”

“I’ve been tweaking my logo for the past couple of weeks and I think it is getting close to what I want.” 

“This is my latest mission statement – I moved a couple of words around so I hope it sounds better now.”

It is as like they are planning a dinner party where they spent all of their time worrying about getting the centerpiece and place settings just right, but forgot that they need to plan a meal to serve their guests!

Entrepreneurs who own growing ventures will inevitably hear that they need to stop working “in the business” and start working “on the business.”  With many first time entrepreneurs, I see them making the opposite mistake.

Even before they generate their first dollar of revenue many seem to become obsessed with working “on the business.”

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It often seems as if they aren’t able to pull the trigger and actually launch the business.

Here are a few tips I share with first time entrepreneurs who suffer from this common condition:

  1. While a well-designed business card is nice to have, it is you and your product or service that will convince the customer to spend their hard-earned money on what you have to offer them.
  2. Your actual product will rarely look anything like what you may envision in a business plan.  In fact, unless you are looking to raise a large amount of capital from outside investors or bankers, writing a formal business plan is not even necessary.  Customers will provide feedback that should inform and shape the new business in its early growth.  Real information from actual customers is much more important than guesses you might make in a formal business plan.
  3. A cool looking logo may be nice to have at some point, but a logo is just a symbol that represents a business.  Get the business going and then worry about a logo to help people remember who you are.
  4. Most mission statements I read are ambiguous and tell very little about what a business really does.  Work on a simple, memorable pitch that will help customers know exactly what you can offer them.

Unless you are able to muster the courage and get out and “work in” your new business, things like business cards, logos, and business plans have no value.  While getting a new business going, your job is not to design the perfect image and develop the perfect business plan.   It is to find customers and sell them your product.  For without customers to generate revenues, there really is no business to “work on.”

So step away from your computer and go find some real live customers!

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