Tag Archives: Startup

Starting a Company: When Do You Quit Your Day Job?

At a recent Charlotte Business Group event I moderated a panel on entrepreneurship. We hit various topics that provided the audience with a ton of value, so I wanted to share some of the key takeaways from the discussion with you. The event featured a great group of local entrepreneurs that covered a wide range of topics about starting, and running, a company.

Our panelists included:

To begin, as far as the “when do you quit your day job” question, there wasn’t a specific answer that fit everyone, as it’s a deeply personal situation. It truly varies for every individual. And in some cases, the answer is never. So, as you can imagine, most of the conversation surrounded providing details about what worked for each of the panelists, as well as them offering various ideas with respect to the way they thought about (act acted on) that at the time.

That being said, below are some of the key takeaways from the evening. There was a lot to unpack and share so I may come back and edit/add more in the coming days.

Ideas for businesses come from a variety of places. In some cases, you can innovate, break, and then reinvent the wheel. In others you can make small tweaks to existing business models that work elsewhere. Or you can find a specific niche and build from there. Business opportunities arise from a multitude of potential catalysts. One great takeaway that stuck with me was to use Bill’s “if you spend 30 minutes researching a problem and aren’t sold something (i.e. served ads) within that time frame you just might have a business idea.”

Just Start. You need to have a little bit of risk involved; you can never get rid of it completely so don’t let that keep you from starting. You don’t need to have absolutely everything figured out. The important thing is to take action consistently. Bill had another great gem; he created a list of 100 things/task and did 1 a day. By sticking to that he started his company in 100 days.

You don’t always NEED to quit your day job. It’s ok to keep your day job long term, keep it for a while as you get traction in the business, or “jump off the cliff and build the plane on the way down.” Everyone has a different risk tolerance and level of resources available to them. Others like Chris just like and prefer continuing to keep their job as they grow their businesses and don’t feel the need to quit.

Know your target market. Learn about what they value, the problems they need solved, and what needs they need met. These are the fundamental elements of launching a business. Market fit is crucial to identify the initial opportunity. Scalability comes later.

Create systems to lean on. As you build your business you want to create systems, procedures, automations, etc. to make sure the business can (eventually) run without you. You don’t need the latest and greatest technology for this, just implement processes that work to help you stay on top of managing everything as things can get overwhelming quickly.

Delegate the things you’re not good at. Pretty much everyone mentioned getting a good bookkeeper/accountant to manage the finances (as that wasn’t necessarily any of their strengths). That’s just an example to reiterate that in order to grow your business you need help and need to be able to delegate the tasks that aren’t suited to your strengths. This may take time as resources are limited, you may need to wear many hats in the beginning, but make this a priority as soon as you can.

There are a variety of ways to fund your business depending on your goals. This is yet another personal preference. Some people bootstrap, building with sales and revenue as they go. That was Elechia’s preferred approach as she met with doctor after doctor, potential patient after patient and growing along the way. Others raise money from investors to continue growing and scaling. You can also leverage debt with SBA loans, etc. There is plenty of research out there about ways to fund and grow your business.

Know what your long-term goals are. While you don’t need to do this first, eventually you should try to have an exit strategy in mind (or the lack there of) as you initially build your business. Whether you plan to eventually sell it, build a business you want to work at for the long haul, or simply want a side-hustle, they’re all fine as long as you’re transparent and honest with yourself and your partners.

All that being said, it’s ok to just have a short-term side hustle that only lasts a year or two and provides some additional income along the way. There doesn’t have to be a long-term vision if that’s your primary objective. As was mentioned several times, each situation and individual is different.

There are many other things to consider when starting and running a business. This was just a small snapshot of a great evening filled with plenty of additional takeaways. What are some of the things you’d add to the list?

The Charlotte Business Group has a lot more educational events like this planned where we share knowledge and experiences from local professionals. We aim to continue nurturing the business and entrepreneurial spirit and providing opportunities for the community to do so. Make sure to keep an eye our for the upcoming schedule!

Small Business Week 2019

WIMS Celebrates National Small Business Week 2019!

In honor of Small Business Week I’ve put together a collection of resources, information, articles, etc. for you to check out whether you’re currently an entrepreneur, if you’re considering becoming one, or if you simply want to support your local crazy roller coaster rider like myself. Also, to celebrate WIMS Consulting is offering a 20% on all services/projects for other small business owners. Just reach out and mention it during your consultation!

What is SBW?

From May 6th to May 11th, 2019, it’s National Small Business Week where the SBA (Small Business Association) recognizes outstanding entrepreneurs and small business owners from all across the 50 states and U.S. territories.

About: “Every year since 1963, the President of the United States has issued a proclamation announcing National Small Business Week, which recognizes the critical contributions of America’s entrepreneurs and small business owners.

More than half of Americans either own or work for a small business, and they create about two out of every three new jobs in the U.S. each year.

As part of National Small Business Week, the U.S. Small Business Administration takes the opportunity to highlight the impact of outstanding entrepreneurs, small business owners, and others from all 50 states and U.S. territories. Every day, they’re working to grow small businesses, create 21st century jobs, drive innovation, and increase America’s global competitiveness.”

 

For North Carolina Companies:

Charlotte Business Resources – it’s Small Business MONTH for the CBR and the city of Charlotte (thanks Mayor Vi Lyles)! Check out everything going on. They’re using #31DaysofBiz too if you want to follow along.

Check out NC IDEA, they’re expanding the long-standing NC IDEA SEED grant program by introducing a Micro-Grant Pilot Program to award micro-grants to deserving companies not yet positioned for their traditional $50K seed grants. “The NC IDEA SEED Micro-Grant Pilot Program will award project-based, micro-grants in the amount of $1K – $10K to young companies looking to validate and advance their idea; or if further along, validate scalability where a small amount of funding would make a significant impact. Grant recipients will also receive mentorship and assistance from NC IDEA, as well as access to its wide network of advisors, partners and investors.”

 

Other SBW2019 Resources Worth Checking Out:

Entrepreneur Magazine SBW2019 HQ

Entrepreneur Magazine SBW2018 HQ

Fundera Ultimate Guide for Small Business Owners

Amazon Business Small Business Week Page

They also created: The Small Business Office Playbook is a resource endorsed by the U.S. Chamber of Commerce as part of its commitment to continually support small businesses’ needs and growth opportunities.

Vista Print 33% off entire site with code SMALLBIZ

Goldman Sachs 10,000 Small Businesses Program

Top TedTalks for when you want to start a business.

Consider These 9 New Ideas For Small Business Week PR (Forbes)

Why National Small Business Week Matters Now More Than Ever (Business.com)

Small Business Week 2018: Need money to get started? We’ve got you. (USA Today)

43 Reasons You Should Support Small And Independent Businesses (Forbes)

Project Management

Introducing the WIMS Consulting Project Management Service Line

The WIMS Consulting project management service line was born out of our own need to allocate the time and resources to make sure and improve this area of our business. A core business tenant is that the best business models solve real problems that you can relate to and those that make a significant impact on your life. Getting the project management process built and implemented is working wonders for our business, and we realized it would likely do the same for yours.

Agile, Scrum, Kanban, Gantt. Excel, Google Sheets, Trello, Jira, Smart Sheets, Asana, SharePoint, Bitrix, BaseCamp, Zoho Project Management. We scoured the web, read countless white papers, articles, watched webinars and seminars, and researched the heck out of this problem until we found the best approach that works. We didn’t just look for the best methodology, but also the best software stack too. Because just like CRM programs (which we intertwine this with in our case) you can have the best understanding of the principles and software in the world, but if you don’t actually use and implement the program correctly it will still fail.

Many people conduct project management intuitively, or by using a combination of Outlook, post-it notes, and to-do lists. Others at least have upgraded to a Trello board or Smart Sheet subscription. It’s time to level up and incorporate a robust project management strategy as a core part of your company’s operations.

While we primarily built this for us, we quickly realized how replicable it is for our clients too. The value it brings to your overall business is profound. It helps improve communication, holds everyone accountable, ensures you’re focused and prioritizing the right things. All of which are crucial as you work to grow and scale. We spend a lot of time helping our clients get more business and increase revenue, now we’re also focusing on helping them to keep that business in a long-term and sustainable way. We’d love the opportunity to assist your company with making it happen. Reach out when you’re ready!

Project Management Offering

WIMS Consulting can act as your long-term outsourced project manager, or on an ad-hoc project basis as they arise. Our solutions are customized and flexible based on the client’s specific needs. Whether you have a system in place that needs some minor tweaks, or if you want to start over from scratch we can help. If you want to migrate to a new software platform, we got you covered.

Our primary objective is assisting you with improving your critical decision-making processes, streamlining your operations by enhancing efficiency, improving accountability, encouraging clear communication, and ultimately increasing your ROI.

Our Process

The WIMS project management service line is centered around the mission and goals of the client. To begin, we conduct an informational interview, or discovery call, where we take a deep dive into the organization’s operations to get a better understanding of the existing project management systems and policies in place (if there are any). During this due diligence phase, we learn what the client thinks is working, what isn’t, identify bottlenecks, and learn as much as we can.

This initial conversation will help frame the service and solutions proposed through having a candid conversation to understand where the organization is at and where it desires to go. When this method was undertaken internally, we included some of the questions included below.

Project Management Audit

We provide an audit of your organization’s existing internal processes. After this due diligence phase, we then take the time to thoroughly review and assess. Once this is complete, we come back to you with recommendations and next steps that we believe would lead to the most appropriate project management system for your organization. Before implementation however we will review it together to make a cohesive decision that includes the buy-in and commitment from both of our organizations.

Sample Questions:
1.    Describe your current project management/day-to-day operations process. What are three main points that stand out?
2.    Who is involved in the project planning process? Include all key stakeholders/administrators/decision makers, etc.
3.    What software (if any) are you using?
4.    What type of budget and resources do you have to solve this problem?
5.    Have you ever lost a project or not bid on one because of your current internal project management process? Have any other negative experiences occurred because of it?

Of course this is just a high level overview of what is ultimately a complex process. We’d love the opportunity to connect with you and your organization to learn more about your specific project management/operational needs and how we can assist.

 

Business Bootcamp: Entrepreneur

Weekend Business Bootcamp: An Entrepreneurial Prompt

If you’ve been thinking about starting a business, whether as a full-time entrepreneur or as a side hustle, consider this your challenge, you call to action, the catalyst you may have been waiting for.

Maybe you’ve been procrastinating for seven weeks (or 1 year and 7 weeks) since making an entrepreneurial new year resolution. Or you’ve just been overwhelmed and stuck in a never-ending analysis paralysis loop. Perhaps you can’t find the perfect idea that best suits you and your skill set (yes, “imposter syndrome” is real and a dream killer). Either way, the best and only cure for any of the above is to take action and get started.

So, wherever you’re at in the process, I’ve pulled together some resources to act as your quick start guide, leveraging advice from experts across the internet, to help you kick things off and be ready to launch your business by Monday (no joke, it really can be done and isn’t as hard as you’d think).

Here are as many ideas as you can handle, along with some success stories for additional inspiration. After you settle on THE big idea, we move onto the initial steps to kick things off, including running some numbers and what you need to do to make it legit.

 

10 of the Highest-Paying Gig Economy Jobs of 2019

Artificial Intelligence/Deep Learning – $115.06/hour, Blockchain Architecture – $87.05/hour, Robotics – $77.46/hour, Ethical Hacking – $66.33/hour, Cryptocurrency – $65.37/hour, Amazon Web Services Lambda Coding – $51/hour, Virtual Reality – $50.18/hour, React.js Developers – $40.75/hour, Final Cut Pro Editors – $37.12/hour, Instagram Marketing – $31.23/hour”

The 20 Hottest Job Skills in 2019 That Will Get You Hired (Editor’s Note: This list doesn’t just make sense for a job, but as an Entrepreneur as well)

  • “A majority of the 20 hottest skills in the US job market are tech-related, according to a new list from freelancing platform Upwork.
  • In-demand tech skills are changing rapidly: 75 percent of the tech trends leading to job opportunities are new to the list.
  • Demand for mobile optimization, the rise in cybercrime and increasing investment in big data solutions are driving corporate hiring.”

Need a Business Idea? Here Are 55

100 Businesses You Can Start with Less Than $100

15 Businesses You Can Start for $10,000 or Less

“Daycare, Lawn Care Specialist, Court Transcript Proofreader, Bookkeeper, Real Estate Agent, Freelance Writer, Natural Childbirth Educator, Retail Arbitrageur, Blogger, Photographer/Videographer, Virtual Assistant, Info Product Salesperson, Dog Walker/Sitter, Personal Trainer, Estate Sale Manager”

7 Realistic Ways to Make Money Online

“Leverage the app economy, Use existing websites, Sell your own stuff, Sell as an affiliate, Start a blog, Email marketing, Webinars trainings”

9 Ways These People Make Money at Home with Nothing but Their Laptops

 

After you decide what business(es) you want to launch the next step is to read this article from Tim Ferriss and follow through on the exercises. How to Create a Million-Dollar Business This Weekend

Next, review this one: A Simple 6-Step Process to Starting a Small Business, and follow it up with How to Start a Small Business Online: “Seven tried and true steps for attracting visitors to your small business’ site — and getting them to buy.”

 

After you get through your weekend grind session and you’ve taken one of the hardest steps in becoming an entrepreneur, give me a call on Monday and let’s start building your website, marketing plan, and get you some clients. By this time next week, you’ll truly have something to celebrate. TGIF!

WIMS Guide Industry Outlooks

Introducing WIMS Guide In-Depth Industry Outlooks

Over the next several weeks/months we will be releasing in-depth industry outlook guides in order to provide additional value to our audience.

Yes, there are many industry outlooks out there already, most of them created by highly funded teams and experts with lots of resources to leverage. However, because of that, their focus typically remains at a very high and unapproachable level as they try to be relevant to too broad a target audience. Besides, we will be aggregating many of the most well known reports and curating them to extract the insightful, thought-provoking, and most importantly, call-to-action oriented data and trends that help move the needle in your business.

Whether you’re currently working in these industries, are service provides to clients in the space, or simply strive to remain knowledgeable about what lies ahead in the macro-economic environment, we are committed to making sure they provide tremendous value.

The initial roll out will include the following industries:

  • Healthcare
  • Commercial Real Estate
  • Legal
  • Accounting & Finance
  • Sports
  • Technology
  • Non-Profit
  • Startups

Each will also include a localized angel from our various locations, including Charlotte, Miami, and Southern California.

As we begin to launch this initiative what would you like to see in such an industry outlook? What would be most relevant to you?

WIMS Client Spotlight: IntellyDoc (AI Contract Management/Automation for Lawyers)

Meet IntellyDoc (website/platform is going live this week): The platform designed specifically for lawyers that serves all your end-to-end contract management needs, and will soon leverage artificial intelligence (AI) technology as well. IntellyDoc easily solves every lawyer’s greatest problem – time management.

You can manage your contracts – from start to finish – without having to leave the IntellyDoc platform. IntellyDoc empowers you to leverage and take back the greatest commodity in the practice of law – your time. Which means you’ll draft contracts, automate document review and approvals (including e-signature functionality), gain critical insight with contract analytics, and close deals faster and more efficiently than ever before.

On the IntellyDoc platform, you get access to the following powerful capabilities:

  1. Smart Contract Template Design
  2. Automated Contract Review
  3. Custom Workflows
  4. Collaboration
  5. E-Signatures
  6. Data Analytics/Reporting and Extraction

The Real Benefits of IntellyDoc:

  • Less email tra­ffic
  • Less legal grid-lock and pressure
  • Less time in the weeds
  • More time to practice high value, meaningful work
  • More efficient workflows
  • More metrics to inform decisions & ensure compliance.

Here’s how it works:

  • Create, review, negotiate, execute, and store a document without leaving the cloud-based platform.
  • The built-in, smart workflows automate document review and approval, enhancing speed and accuracy of your workload.
  • Collaborate securely within the platform to edit and track changes, manage several versions of documents, and execute documents with electronic signatures.
  • Gain powerful insight into your contract repository with real-time reporting and analytics.

Why it works:

  • Our simple set up with on-going, hands-on support means zero installation rigmarole but on-boarding training support is here, if needed.
  • The platform supports various file types you interact with daily on Macs or PCs including: doc, docx, and pdf.
  • The secure and compliant cloud-based approach delivers metrics and transparency.

The website is being finalized this week, but if you’re interested in learning more about the platform, please email sales@intellydoc.com or click here to schedule your demo today.

Charlotte

Doing a Charlotte Deep Dive this February

While I’m fortunate that my business often takes me all over the country, every now and then it’s crucial to do a deep dive into my own HQ city, Charlotte, NC. I’ve made a lot of progress with growing my network here, but it’s still far from where I want and need it to be. And I don’t have nearly the client base that I’d like here yet either, and building it is one of my primary objectives for 2018.

Over the next couple weeks (while simultaneously continuing to run the business) I’m going to be back on the local networking grind with a vengeance. Below is the scheduled itinerary with links if you’re interested in joining me. Also, if there’s any events/organizations I’m missing please let me know!

February 7th; 6:00 pm – StartupGrindCLT

February 8th; 7:30 am – Bisnow’s 8th Annual Charlotte State of the Market (Commercial Real Estate)

February 9th; 8:30 am – Monthly BIG Ideas Exchange: Big Data (BIG – Business Innovation Growth)

February 14th; 8:00 am – PitchBreakfast

February 14th; 11:30am – Charlotte Chamber YP’s (CCYPs) Non-Profit Luncheon (Volunteer Matchmaker)

February 16th; 12:00 pm – Skookum TechTalks: Blockchain Technology: Uses Beyond Bitcoin and Cryptocurrency

February 22nd; 4:00 pm – NextGen Charlotte Business Journal – 2018 Money Management

If you’re in Charlotte, and planning to attend one of these, I hope to see you and to get to know you and your business better!

Chipping Away at New Product Development

By: Jarrod Mains

What do you know about product development? If you are like me when I decided to start a company that makes a new golf training aid, then nothing! I had zero experience designing, producing, building, managing, sourcing, or engineering a new product. The only thing I have ever done professionally is sell. But I was very passionate about this product my next door neighbor invented and I truly believe that it makes people who use it a better golfer. So we decided to start Perfect Shot Golf Loft, LLC.

I have learned the hard way that the most difficult part of developing a new product is getting the design and manufacturing set up. The initial steps you take during this process are crucial. I could not afford to make any mistakes as my budget was very limited, but like anything you haven’t done in life before, you live and you learn. I have listed several of the lessons I learned during my product development cycle over the past 18 months below with the hope that they can help you develop your own product quickly, efficiently, and as equally important: within your budget!

Lesson #1 – Do your research.

I’ve always liked the saying, “if you fail to plan, you are planning to fail.” I’ve never started a job I hadn’t researched and crunched numbers for prior to beginning and this venture was no different. Knowledge is power and the more knowledge you have, the better off you will be. Before starting a business you need to research the entire industry you are looking to enter and dissect any/all information available. Developing a business plan and researching how to make it happen is by far the most important step before you decide to start your own company.

Again, I had ZERO product development experience and really didn’t know what I was getting into but was so confident this product was going to be successful, that I didn’t care. I was focusing on what was going to happen several steps away, looking forward to the point where I had inventory to sell. Never in my wildest dreams did I think it would be so hard to get to that point! There is only so much you can do during the development stage as a sales/marketing guy. So like any smart CEO would do when he didn’t know what to do, I hired a consultant.

In August 2014, we sent our home built prototype to a company we contracted with in Buffalo, NY to look it over so they could build us a more professional, consumer ready product. They succeeded in doing this about eight months later. Which brings me to my next lesson…

Lesson #2 – Don’t contract with a design firm that is so far away.

The design stage of developing a product is critical. The more you can communicate and meet with your designers the better off you will be. Sam (my business partner) and I are in Florida; the consultants we hired were in Buffalo, NY. While we did do some Skype sessions and conference calls, it’s not the same as being able to drive down the street and check to see how your project is coming along.

Looking back, there were many small things these design consultants messed up which could have been avoided had we been closer to point things out sooner. Whenever somebody messes something up in the design stage, it not only costs time, but costs money too! Of course there will be some trial and error along the way, but the errors they made were pretty standard requests.

Sam was a foreman on large scale projects such as building power plants and skyscrapers, so he was very specific with how he wanted his invention built (our “blueprint”) yet these guys kept getting measurements wrong, spacing off, and all sorts of other things that seemed simple to us. We thought we were pretty clear as to what we were asking for and they always said they understood, but whenever we got a new part or sample piece the changes we asked for and things we stressed were not done properly until the second, third, fourth time.

For example, it was very frustrating having to tell professional design engineers to make sure the holes in the stakes are close enough together to where you have to squeeze the poles together providing more stability and friction on the unit, yet it takes them nine tries to get it right!

Lesson #3 – If possible, pay for the project as a whole, not on an hourly basis.

Design engineers are like lawyers. If you let them, they will rack up billable hours! We had the option upfront in this firm’s proposal to pay for the project as a whole, but we decided to go with the hourly option and have them send us monthly invoices for the time they spent working on our project. Maybe they were making all those mistakes referenced above on purpose to run up the bill on us, who knows. But we had to learn the expensive way that it would have been much better to pay one lump sum for the project instead of leaving it open to the engineers to “work” on it at their own discretion will while working on other projects for their other clients simultaneously.

This company itemized their hours so I was able to see how much time they claimed they were working on each portion of the product. After looking at the monthly invoices each month, I was getting fed up of seeing some of the same stuff on there each and every month for things that should have been completed already. Again, being so far away and never meeting these guys in person was a big mistake. The trust factor was lacking.

Lesson #4 – Search for vendors yourself.

Again, I had to learn this the hard/expensive way! The consultants we hired claimed they already had resources in place to get us all the parts we needed in their initial proposal. We soon figured out that was far from reality as they were simply searching online for vendors and charging us to do it. After a few months I finally asked them why it was costing us so much for them to search for vendors and why it was taking so long to find these resources they claimed they already had in place. After that conversation, I decided to take over this aspect of the process myself.

If you don’t search for your own vendors – which isn’t hard, just time consuming – you pay engineers $90+ per hour to do it for you! The consultants initially got us three quotes on injection molds, all of which were over $100,000. I made the mistake of simply sending them websites saying, “Hey look into these guys,” not knowing they were still going to charge me so much money to gather these quotes.

I finally told them to stop searching for vendors, I’ll do that from now on. And boy was that a great decision! I not only saved money by searching myself, I saved money by finding better priced vendors for virtually every part we needed! Plus, I learned a lot about manufacturing while doing my searches and talking to these vendors so this move was quite beneficial.

Lesson #5– Plan for your product to take longer than expected.

Our objective when we first started was to have a finished product in time for the start of golf season, spring of 2015. That didn’t happen. Designing and ordering custom parts that don’t exist yet takes longer than you probably think. For one, it was tough to find vendors in the USA to do it at a reasonable cost, so lots of times we had to get sample parts from China…which means waiting for them to get here. If you don’t want to spend the extra money on shipping overnight internationally – which can add up quick – you have to wait longer. But time is money so you have to consider what is best for your situation.

Around June of 2015, the product was finally designed the way we wanted it and we had found vendors for most of the parts. Now we were finally ready to go to production! Except there was one more problem…we didn’t have enough money to pay for the injection molds. All of our start-up funds went into product development and legal fees (patents, trademarks, operating agreements, etc.). While we could make our product cheaper and “dumb it down” a little bit, we don’t want to do that.

We want this to be the Cadillac of golf training aids instead of being like most of the other cheap crap out there on the market. We want people to use this product for years, not just once or twice and throw it away like a lot of other goofy golf gadgets. I’m smart enough to know that cheap doesn’t last and you get what you pay for, I’m a big believer in that. If we start cutting corners now and cheapening our product, it’s going to cause us more work and cost us more money in the long run. And we can’t afford that. So we decided to build it the right way rather than the quick and cheap way.

I hope these lessons and our company’s start-up experience have helped you understand the product development stage in some way. While it does require hard work, I want to encourage you to go for it, just be mindful of what it takes to be successful. We have passed a big road block but the route has only begun as we have many more obstacles to navigate through. Stay tuned for my next article on fundraising and creating a crowd funding campaign. Until then, to be continued… GOLFLOFTNoBackGround-500X500

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Jarrod Mains is the CEO of Perfect Shot Golf Loft, LLC. He has many years of experience working in the professional sports industry with a variety of leagues and in a variety of roles. He earned his MBA in Sports Management from Florida Atlantic University. He can be reached here.