BarCamp PDX: Business 101 session

Much smaller group this time … about 15. People from 2-person startups, Microsoft and anywhere in between. Some from tech, some from biz, some consultants … I’m here to think about what it takes to start my own business (not now, but who knows?).

Issues: growth, fundraising

How do you decide where to take your business? Where do you get the info?
– Personal experience of making and watching mistakes, not so much market research
– Customer surveys, combined with a newsletter asking for feedback and building community
– Build community so customers do marketing for them
– Tiny percentage responded to newsletter, 15-50 of 4000
– Targeted survey to 150 users (of 4000) got about 50% response rate
– How do you connect others’ business experience with your business?
– Enterpreneurs’ forum
– CEO roundtable: get small biz owners together over meals
– Successful people in business meet, swap ideas that worked, discuss biz plans & needs
– Business Enterprise Center: incubator provides space, mentorship
– Bring in various experts in legal issues, accounting, etc to talk
– Choosing to build a business around yourself and your reputation vs a company reputation
– Even the name of your company depends on this
– Lifestyle business (you can leave whenever you want) vs having employees, etc.
– The people are the value, when they leave there’s no value left
– Small companies working with small companies or big companies?
– How do you build a consulting business that isn’t a lifestyle business?
– Growing without relying on just your personal reputation
– Locking into models
– If the model requires a certain technology, it can’t last forever
– Flexibility
– Do what you’re good at
– Outsource finances, etc. Time vs money
– Your time is best spent on your expertise
– You drop way too much time on things you’re unfamiliar with
– In the same way, use the tools you’re familiar with
– CFOs from big businesses can run small biz into the ground
– They don’t understand the urgency of time and the shortness of money
– Online database of information and experience from other owners?
– Trust issues
– My thought: show me the data, and I can draw my own conclusions (i.e. Fred Brooks)
– Ratings? Wiki-like model?
– What questions do you need to ask for a business plan? A list … inspires thought