What we learned about starting a business

In PR Thoughts by Amanda Proscia

By Amanda Proscia, Lightspeed PR Managing Director and co-founder

Lightspeed PR was launched in October 2013, and in the months since, Ethan and I have learned a lot about what it takes to start and run a business. Since many of our clients are start-ups, we know this is top of mind for them as well.

So we put together a short check list of what we’ve learned along the way of things to do, and a few things not to do, when starting a business.

DO:

  • Find a good accountant and decide on the structure of your business before you start. Are you going to be an LLC, LLP, S Corp, C Corp? How are you going to operate? How will profits be used? These are important things to decide before you get started.
  • Find ways to cut down on overhead. Do you need fancy offices on day one? Can you get by with contract help instead of taking on employees? Always be certain you need something before you commit to an ongoing cost. Finding alternatives could translate to a lot of savings that will help as you’re getting your business established.
  • Choose work you enjoy and partners and colleagues you like and respect. Your business will become a big part of your life, make sure it’s something you want to be doing!
  • Have goals. Setting specific targets such as revenue, number of customers and headcount will provide a great morale boost when you hit those targets – or an opportunity to make adjustments if you don’t.
  • Manage expectations. Let your colleagues and clients know what you’re capable of, and what you aren’t. Pretending to be bigger than you are is a recipe for failure.

DON’T:

  • Don’t assume the technology you have is going to work for a business. A free email account is great for sending things to friends, but you’ll need a whole new system to work with clients and collaborate with partners or contractors. Think about investing in technology that can handle multiple email accounts, file sharing and other communications that will be essential as you grow.
  • Don’t expect a profit in the first month. Or the second month, or maybe even the sixth month. Growing a business takes time, patience, and often an investment by the owners, before it can be profitable.
  • Don’t forget to maintain work/life balance. Regular breaks are important to recharge, and if your clients or customers begin to think you are available 24/7, they may take advantage. Specifically avoid sending emails late at night – even if you compose them in the wee hours, use your email’s scheduling feature to send them during business hours.
  • Don’t think of yourself as a sole proprietor, even if you are doing a lot yourself. Refer to yourself as “we” in your communications, for instance, to get across the idea that your new company is just that – not a person.
  • Don’t work in a distracting environment. Find ways to reduce clutter and distraction in your home office so that you can be more efficient when you’re working.