#6 - "Where do I sign?"
Just like the hiring of employees, you need to pay attention to vendors and contractors. You really need an experienced eye to help you draft and review contracts. Most entrepreneurs are amazingly bright people with some serious street smarts, but the law doesn’t always work the way you think it should and the words don't always mean what you think they do. In addition, this is a great way to establish yourself as a legit player. When your contracts are well drafted, that vendor or contractor is going to notice (so will your bonding and insurance companies). In time, you'll lean less and less on attornies for the small stuff. For now, it's worth the coin.
#7 - "Whatever you want."
Don’t be afraid to push back. This is a BIG one for some. You’re a new startup or contractor and you feel obligated to the client or owner because they have deep pockets. You think, “if I let them just do this then more work (or sales) will come my way.” Nope. That is not how it works. Let’s face it, they usually pick you because you’re the lowest price, not because you’re “cool to work with.” As soon as you put your cool-factor mark up on your number, you’ll see just how important that is.
Now there’s a difference between being a pushover and being a pain in the neck. Our suggestion? Don’t be afraid to give the owner or president a call and negotiate. If you end up giving in on everything, at least they’ll know it! But chances are you’ll gain a little ground back. Remeber there's a difference between great customer service and going broke - a price!
#8 - "Let's go LARGE!
Scaling up is a major goal for practically every startup. Even if you're just trying to go from 1 to 10 employees, or just bumping your revenue up 10% from last year. It's somewhat easy to see the advantages of "economies of scale" (getting more service/product with less cost per unit). The thing a lot of companies miss is the cost hitting so much earlier than the revenue you're hoping for.
We see this most with hiring costs. The sound of a million experienced subcontractors shouting “AMEN” is coming through the speakers! You’re well aware that the costs involved in hiring someone are considerably more than her starting pay rate. With insurance, training, overhead, and all the rest, you're in for another 25-35% or more! A lot of employers know that. The thing people miss is that the costs of making most employees profitable aren’t recouped for at least a month. For a big hire, especially in sales if it’s not a commission position, it may take a year or more. If you double your payroll in month 1 to land a big job that won't pay until month 3, you may have a problem.
#9 - "I've failed! It's all over!"
So many people give up because the expectation levels were never met. So many things can and will go wrong, more than you ever could have predicted. We can help you avoid the trainwrecks, but there are so many small catastrophes on a daily basis, you're bound to feel overwhelmed. To use a boxing analogy: you have to absorb the body shots while protecting your jaw and looking for your opening. DON'T LET UP.
That means you have systems in place to handle the unexpected. In a lot of successful organizations there's someone that is able to handle the emergencies and someone else who's great at avoiding them. You can't be both of those people for long. You'll burn out. Your job is to keep your eye on the prize.
Always have a backup capital source list that’s 2-3 sources deep.
Always have your hit list of great prospects.
Always have alternate revenue stream ideas in the works.
Always be building your client list - both adding new and listing out wants.
Always be networking.
Then be ready to pounce when the opening is there.
#10 - "Oh God, I can't do this."
Sometimes the worst part of it is the success! Just when you were getting a handle on things suddenly a big sale/contract comes through. You don't have time to even hire, let alone train. Then there are the hidden pains. One of the biggest surprises to a lot of owners is just how important a wasted paperclip feels. Every inadvertently stolen pen feels like a capital crime. Every mistake is a personal offense to you and your family.
It’s hard because the company is an extension of you. It is you in so many ways. Now there’s a lot of business theories about how detached an owner needs to be, but when you're starting out, there is no separation. Still, you're going to have to realize that this is a job. You have a family that needs you. The employees care way less about the company, and you, then they do about their own families. You can’t and shouldn’t try to change that. The balance comes when you can help everyone to love what they are doing, even if it isn’t their first love.