Posted: Sun Oct 23, 2005 4:49 pm Post subject: OT: Any entrepreneurs out there?
I've had an idea brewing for a while, and I think maybe it's time to tap that keg and see what'll happen. No, it's not ski related.
Any of y'all ever started your own business? Gone out on a limb for a dream? What were your biggest hurdles, struggles, or triumphs? Are you glad you did it? Would you do it again? Are any of you, like me, thinking of going for it?
I've started several businesses, including my current one. It's important to mitigate risk whereever you can, don't overcommit too early, and neither over-fund nor under-capitalize a startup. If there's a way to edge into it to test the market, prove the concept without spending too much time or money (your own or others), you should.
And don't listen too much to your friends- if it's a great idea and they all love it, odds are pretty good it's been done before- do some research, a LOT of research, find out what went right (or rong) with the competitor's approach. If it's a great idea and nobody gets it, that can often be a GOOD thing, but figure out how you're gonna reach the market that DOES "get it".
For the most part my own business(es) have been service, not product oriented. We've developed products for lots of folks with "great ideas" than went nowhere, and we've developed stuff for client who basically OWN the market they're in. Our end of it has a very different risk/reward picture than the "great product idea" folks, but it's a living, and has constantly evolving possiblities. YMMD
Joined: 06 Dec 2004 Posts: 563 Location: Colorado Springs and Leadville
Posted: Mon Oct 24, 2005 3:55 am Post subject:
I cut the cord 25 years ago. Started an economic research and consulting business. Still successful to this day.
While I have not enough time to enjoy as much skiing as I would like (30 days last year), I could never go back and work for the MAN!
A couple of suggestions:
(1) Do some market research... get out in the field and be sure to talk to your potential customers. Find out what they think about your product or service. You'll be surprised what you can learn form them.
(2) Build a financial (spreadsheet) model... test the sensitivity of all your assumptions about your fixed and variable costs, revenue expectations, etc. Putting numbers to the business plan will help you better understand the risks and the rewards.
(3) Always remember that ideas are a dime a dozen. A successful business is built on execution in the market place.
(4) You can't learn how to start a business from a book... but the "E-Myth" is a good read.
Joined: 08 Dec 2004 Posts: 358 Location: Golden Colorado
Posted: Tue Oct 25, 2005 3:16 am Post subject:
I started Bent Gate Mountaineering in 1994 when I was 21 years old, along with my sister and a childhood friend that I had ski bummed up in Vail with for a few seasons.
I thought I would be supporting myself a LOT sooner than I did. I was working pretty much every hour the shop was open and then heading down the street and waiting tables the rest of the day. I think by the end of the first year I was taking home about $300/month from the shop (all $$$ was going back into inventory). In 1996 my son was born and I wasn't making much more. We survived on my wife's nurses salary, and putting diapers and formula on our credit cards.
Luckily the shop was something I was passionate about, and it has continued to grow every year. I now make enough money that I don't have to drive my grandfathers 1986 Tempo, and we've pretty much paid off our CC debt. I still work way more than I ever thought I would, but I love it.
We've had such a great staff over the years (my first employee Adam, was a climbing buddy originally hired to take care of my newborn son at the shop) and incredible support from the Golden / Denver area community. I go to work looking forward to what I get to do each day and getting to see and interact with really great people.
For all of the pain, difficulty, and debt I've gone thru getting Bent Gate off the ground, I wouldn't change a thing. It is now a profitable business with a pretty flexible schedule. We have around 16 employees, and they are all great to to be around. More than anything, I am glad that my daily routine that makes up a major chunk of my life is something that I consider meaningfull and that I enjoy so much.
I hope if you do start a business, you are not depending on it for income right away. Plan ahead and have some room to ride things out for a bit. Learn to wait tables! Do something you care about so you can stick it out when things are tough. Surround yourself with good people. LISTEN. Do the right thing always.
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