Cognitive Information

Startup Super Powers You Need

Super PowersIn November Cognitive Information will celebrate 9 years in business. This is quite an accomplishment considering that x% of new companies fail in the first year. In my recent presentation about ‘So You Want to Be a SQL Consultant’ we discussed the challenges of starting a company. In this article, I give an update on challenges and successes through the years.

Power of No – Say yes to the things in your business that only you can do and say “No!” or “Not Now” to the other things.  Know where you need to spend your time and where you should not.  Bookkeeping is something I outsourced because I’m not good at it and found someone I trust.   I still review everything and know where we are every week.    I also will not set up your aunt’s home computer, fix your iGadget or setup you Wi-Fi.   I can refer you to people who do that but it’s not me.

Power of Broke – This phrase has been used on Shark Tank to describe startups that watch every dollar.  Before stating on my own I worked at a software startup that bought used servers on eBay and we often sang ‘we built this company on eBay’.   When cash is limited, you make the tough decisions and buy only what is needed and limit the ‘want’ list.   When I started there were sources of funding available by borrowing from my tribe’s economic development group at double-digit interest with a lien on everything.   We chose not to go that route and instead used our small amounts of profit to develop the business.   For some good insight on funding any business I recommend chapter 9, ‘Financial Peace for Business’ in Dave Ramsey’s book EntreLeadership.  I followed that advice and got rid of the company credit card and line of credit at our bank against the advice of a business coach but in line with my values.  No regrets on that decision.  It is cash or don’t buy it.

Power of Space: Incubator space is becoming more popular in Oklahoma City metro, but 9 years ago it was limited to one small are almost an hour away.   It had nice amenities but it was no bargain.  My wife wanted her dining room table back so we both started looking and she found a small, no-frills office nearby.   It had room for one person and a conference room for meetings.   I also made use of co-location offices in the downtown area for alternate meeting space.    This combination still works with cost and flexibility.

Power of Cooperation     My grandfather used to say, “Good Help is Hard to Find!” whenever we broke something on his ranch.  He would then laugh and we would weld, wire and duct tape things back together but there is still some truth in that saying.   I’ve found it hard to find honest, dependable people with the variety of technical and personal skills to take good care of customers.   To solve this problem, I’ve networked with other small businesses and independent consultants.

Power of a Message:  I learned this the hard way by naming my company something that narrowed my focus too much and limited potential.  I started as GAMA Health Technology because when I started healthcare was my focus.   After a few years I was doing everything but healthcare.   Re-branding took time, energy and money that could have been better used.  There were valuable lessons learned because I had to write a marketing plan and review it with a business coach and my board at The Alternative Board.    That group held me accountable and gave me hard time (in a good way) when I didn’t spend time working on my business instead of in my business.   To learn more check out TAB.

Power of Learning: I am a natural geek but not a natural salesman like Herb on WKRP in Cincinnati.    I had to work to develop my sales skills and form a sales system to work for my business.  In my ‘So you wanna…’ talk I point out the need to develop those skills you find yourself lacking or outsource the job.    A sale in my company is often technical but it starts with developing relationships.   I am a big fan of the Sandler Sales method so if that is something you want to learn, contact Mike Crandle in the OKC area or use their website to find a coach in your area.

Power of Systems – I’m not talking computer systems but systems of how you work that free up your time for important things.  I once had a manager teach me to Organize, Systemize and Prioritize.  Organize so everything has a place, Systemize so every process is repeatable and consistent and prioritize what you do.   Still good advice.

I hope you find these insights helpful as you take your own leap into entrepreneurship.







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