What I learned from Starting our Business turning over $1m in 6 months

It’s been a long time since I posted after loosing the historical posts on the website. I apologies for this!

 

In the last year, I was privileged to start a business venture with a few friends recently, retailing Crypto Currencies wholesale and to consumers. We jumped in relatively late to the party, retailed to clients who stemmed from colleagues, existing clients and new clients from both referrals and advertising.

In 6 short months, we rocketed from Zero to a turnover of $1M. We made three clients millionaires from their investment and we learned. Every. Single. Day.

But it wasn’t all rosy – the journey involved more than a few sleepless nights and multitasking and juggling with other ventures.

Myself along with two other associates of mine shared the highs and lows, from liaising with legal for compliance, software developers in areas that were new and in many ways we were trail blazers.

I won’t go too much into the detail of the ins and outs of this business, this isn’t what this is about. The important part of any project, successful or failed is to reflect on the lessons learned..

 

1. Hold yourselves accountable

We had to part ways with one of the three founding members. We took each other at face value; we assumed we were all on the same wavelength, brothers amongst men. In reality, you have to remember that at all times you need to hold yourselves FULLY accountable. Excuses began to roll before long. Some a result of unfortunate circumstance; and some to cover up previous lies.It became a case of two people propping up the third’s lack of productivity and ownership. We let it slide for too long, and it had a negative, detrimental effect on every aspect of what we were trying to do. It even cost us thousands out of our own pockets.

At one point, we settled, and let ourselves tickover, business was growing and it felt good. Whether in a partnership or solo it’s important to keep yourself and those around you in check. Have targets and kick your own backside if you don’t reach them. Expect your partners to kick it for you. Be prepared to kick theirs. Because not pushing forwards at all time is robing yourself of progress.

2.Maintain Control

You will, no doubt be aware of the social media and google advertising crackdowns on CryptoCurrencies. It hit us rather hard; from gaining followers organically on autopilot, we found it increasingly difficult to engage with new business outside of referrals. In addition to this, The Government Initiatives to tackle tax evasion in the field became ever-increasingly onerous. We had planned for the latter in some capacity; the former however meant a sharp re-assessment of our entire business and revenue raising plan and it reinforced what is one of my principle laws of business: ALWAYS maintain control.

Never align your business so that one superpower, one organisation has the keys. Because they might just throw them in the bin and you will not be far behind. What does that mean?

You may have read this article. Long story, very short, it is a cleaner who started a business and got contracts with McDonalds. They were his biggest, and yet his only client. When the times were good they were great, but one day McDonalds decided to breach their contract and terminate the cleaner. He had no control over the revenue of his business – McDonalds did. What could he have done differently? Diversified. Not settled and continuously sought new business. The loss of a major client is a hit, the loss of an only client is a bankruptcy application.

This is no different to having one ad source, one clientbase, one source of customer, one profile of customer, one supplier.  You always need to think ‘do I have control if any given aspect of my business is not available to me one day’

3. Remember it is a Business

At the core of business you have to focus on why ANY business exists. Revenue and more specifically; profit. I mention this for many reasons.

It is easy to have noble ambitions of helping everyone that walks through your door. We began to churn countless hours in creating infographics, late night phonecalls much to the dissatisfaction of my other partner who fronted the majority of them, emails, facebook messages and the list goes on. All of these were people asking the basics. People who saw easy access to people who they knew, trusted, and beleived cared. Of course, many of these prospective clients, eventually made a transaction in the hundreds, or none at all – all of which, if we were to bill our time to the business, or analyse the revenue that we could have been seeking elsewhere and the value we could have been adding – would have us transacting at a huge loss.

In my consulting business, my rates start at $150 an hour. That means for every hour spent helping a client, I would need at least $150 in profit to ‘break even’ if we made it a black and white lost income scenario.  Of course, it doesn’t work like that in the real world but it is an extremely important principle. If that client only invested $1,000 short-term then after an hour trying to help them, I would have potentially lost around $140.

The truth is, you need to find a middle ground where you help people through the door, you help them as much as is reasonable, and when they invest in you, so do you in them. We thrived on making others money and progress, but we could and should have done more to re-establish a balance.

So to, is it important to remember this rule when dealing with clients, suppliers and most importantly, associates. Further to point 1, we let things go much further than we ever would have in a day-job. Why? We felt indebted to each other to the point where one underperforming limb was propped up by the remainder. When that person didn’t see fit to do what was best by us, we should have been much more pro-active in insisting that WE did what was right for the business. We had a habit of not pushing as hard on underperforming suppliers, or negotiating as hard on sales from existing clients or colleagues – which you do need a certain degree of – but not at a contradiction to the reason why you are on this path.

4. People Matter

I don’t care what business you own or run, people are the most important thing.

They buy your products or services. They work for you. They supply you. The list is endless, but you have to be aware of their needs. This may sound contrary to point 3 above, but in actual fact, it simply adds caveat to it. Never forget that people are at the core of your success. Treat customers right; make sure it is known that they are valued. Operate honestly and the fact that you need to make a profit becomes integral to their belief that if you are making profit you are serving them well. It’s somewhat of an ecosystem which I can’t stress enough. Get the balance right and be sure to constantly answer the question that people will always have subconsciously of ‘how does this benefit or serve me’. Answer that question pre-emptively and naturally and you will find investors easier to approach, customers easier to convert and colleagues easier to form an accord with.

5. But they don’t Care 

I firmly believe this. In harmony to point 4 above, ultimately people don’t care. The world owes you nothing and won’t stop if you do. What do I mean by this? We had  an active group of an initial 50 people all biting for a chance to invest in us. We had several high value individuals who had expressed a definite interest in seeding our adventure. When the flashing lights stopped and it became to put pen to paper however, the excuses came thick and fast.

When we were approaching perspective clients, they would not understand nor care why we couldn’t drop our prices to what was below cost. They didn’t understand that it was not viable to spend hours with them, explaining how the technology worked so they could feel more comfortable.

It’s human nature. Nobody truly cares that you succeed.  They might find it nice. They might even get excited by it. But your success doesn’t pay their bills. They don’t care if you want to be the biggest if it doesn’t somehow come back to them.

They don’t care that the investment they as good as promised was the difference between make or break. So be careful of the weight you put on promises, be sure to handle people with class and dedication at all times, but only to the point where it is reasonable for your circumstances.

 

Until Next Time!

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