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Entrepreneurship: Getting Started
I started my company (EMJ) from the trunk of my car (and it was a small trunk so that’s a small business). I grew EMJ to $375,000,000 in sales prior to selling it to SYNNEX. I am now CEO of a $1 billion business. My successful blog at (jimestill.com) generates a lot of comments and questions. I want to share one of these thoughtful questions with you, and share my answer.
The question: "First off I just want you to know all I'm asking for is advice, which is the most valuable thing I can get right now. I have been working in a field of interest for many years now as a hobby. I've always had many very good ideas but I never had the resources to make them happen. I always figured it was because I was too young. Now I'm older, I have a job and I'm plagued with the same problem.
I'll have a great idea but it will usually be out of my range because I either do not have the technical ability, the funding or resources to make the idea I vision happen. My most recent plan evolved from my experience running similar websites, I found there was an un-fulfilled need. I decided to start judging the need for what I was offering so I did my homework and contacted over 130 other similar sites. Within a day I had 20 sites interested in what I had to offer. That's great and all but those 20 sites generate about 6 times the traffic I could handle. So once again I'm in the same position. I do not have the resources I need to properly execute my idea. My basic question, what is the best route to take when you have a great ideal that is more then you can handle. A little more about me, I'm 23 years old, I have been running web sites and involved in the industry for around 6 years. I have a good paying job in another industry which makes it even more difficult to make the "jump".
Thank you for your time." My response: 1 - There is never a right time. Entrepreneurship involves risk. This means yous sometimes need to just jump. This said - I always say "fail often, fail fast, fail cheap" so I always look at the downside. 2 - It is very powerful to be under resourced. It will make you more resourceful and likely allow you to run a leaner more competitive business. 3 - I like to choose opportunities that are the right size for me now. This is a beautiful thing for business - there is always a right size business opportunity for everyone at every size. When you are starting from your basement, you can take a $100,000 opportunity and do well.
Bigger companies cannot do this so will leave you alone. 4 - When the opportunity is too big for me, I consider narrowing my scope. Instead of being the biggest seller of bar code equipment, be the bigger in bar code for warehouses etc. 5 - Consider partnering. It is better to have 10% of something that is worth something than 100% of an idea. 6 - Ideas are a dime a dozen. It is the implementation that counts. How often do you see a restaurant with a line outside and the one next to it goes bankrupt. All the time. Ideas are easy.
7 - I know a lot of people who almost start businesses. They are not successful. To steal from Nike - "Just do it". And do it now. Time is the enemy of ideas and business. Someone else has the same idea. It is the one who perfects it that wins.
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