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EPISODE #006

#6 How to Start a Business Part 1 – Personal Preparation

Craig Willett:

This is Craig Willett, The Biz Sherpa. I’d like to welcome you to our three-part series on starting a business. What I hope to accomplish in our first part of this series is to give you some questions to think about to see your readiness to start a business. This is not meant to discourage you from starting a business, but actually to help you do what is best for you and give you a greater chance to succeed in business. People have asked me, “Well, why are you doing this podcast?” And I think to myself, “Well, that’s a great question.” But it’s really an opportunity for me to give back.

A number of years ago when I had my real estate development business going full steam ahead, I told my assistant one day, “I’m trying to find another president to this company so that I can step back and do what I really want to do.” And she said, “Well, Craig, what’s that?” And I said to her, “Terry, I really just want to give back and help the next generation of entrepreneurs.” This is my opportunity to help launch the next generation of entrepreneurs. Small business—it means a lot to me. Not only did I have 700 small business clients as a CPA, but I also testified in Congress on tax legislation that benefits small businesses even to today, back in 1994.

And so, I was fortunate enough to have the opportunity to go to Congress and testify in the House Small Business Committee, as well as the House Ways and Means Committee. And then showing you how naive I am, at one point I was testifying in the Senate Finance Committee and I was on the panel with three former IRS commissioners, and I didn’t even know it. I think had I known, I would have been really nervous that day.

So I really have had a life of blessings and benefits from being a small business owner. My businesses have grown, have been wildly successful, and have rewarded me in great ways. But the most important way is that I built a number of relationships with a number of people that I cherish and will cherish for the rest of my life.

One of the first things I want you to think about is, what are the virtues and benefits to business ownership? So if you could answer that question to yourself, I think that’s one place to start. As I consider that question, one answer to this could be—and there’s a million answers, so none of them are right and none are wrong, but it employs other people. You have the opportunity to be able to change the neighborhood where you live. When I was a business owner—a real estate developer—I had the opportunity to employ a lot of people. Not only those that worked for my development company, but the general contractors that we employed, the architecture firms, the engineering firms, and the cities that we got approvals, and we paid a lot of fees to employ people there as well. It was far reaching and had a great economic impact.

Another thing to think of is an opportunity to express your creativity. Someone once said, “Creativity is the highest form of expression.” And I would like to have you think about what is unique to you? How can you come up with the product or service and deliver it in a way that is unique and that will bring about that expression of your creativity? You’ll be more successful as you can carve out that niche.

The other part of it is, it can be emotionally rewarding. You have the opportunity to develop your own emotional currency. I’ve talked about that in my second episode of The Biz Sherpa podcast. And I really find that is a lifeblood of being a business owner. Many people will tell you, “You don’t need to start a business.” In fact, I had some people tell me, “Craig, this won’t be successful.” The business grew to be over a $700 million business when I had a few neighbors tell me that they didn’t think it would work, mainly because I think one of them had tried it a number of years earlier than I did, but did it at a time where probably the economic circumstances weren’t right for it. That emotional reward can bring benefit to you throughout your life. It will boost your confidence. Not only will it boost your confidence, but it will bring joy and happiness that go beyond the dollars and cents of business.

The other thing that I really like about small business is that it’s the engine that drives the free enterprise system in our country. Small businesses employ over 47 and a half percent of the workforce. That would be businesses under 500 employees. In addition, they create 64 percent of all new jobs every year. I think this makes it the lifeblood of our economy. I want to encourage successful startups that have the best chance for success, so some of the things we’re going to talk about today will help you assess your readiness to start a business. Again, I don’t want this to be discouraging if you don’t pass the test. In fact, one of the tests that I’m going to recommend today—and our special guest that we’re going to host, she’ll tell you—I’ll tell you right now, I didn’t pass the test at a high enough level for me. I had to cheat to kind of get above average.

So you want to ask yourself the question, “Why do I want to start a business?” Now, you may answer that question by saying, “Well, gee, I want freedom and flexibility. I get tired of the 9:00 to 5:00 job.” And while I think that’s a great answer that you’re tired of your 9:00 to 5:00 job, and that you want to do something more, I don’t think on its surface it’s sufficient enough. Because quite frankly, as a business owner, the business owns you for the first several years anyway, and you’ll be working much more than 9:00 to 5:00.

Now, you may find that that’s okay. You may say, “That’s okay with me, Craig. I don’t mind working at midnight. I don’t mind having long hours on certain days, as long as I have the flexibility to do some of the other things that I like.” If that’s the kind of freedom and flexibility you’re thinking about, then you’re going down the right path. Some of you may say, “Well, gee, I have a creative idea, Craig.” And I think of Steve Jobs going out into his garage. And he had worked on a farm where they picked apples. And that’s where he came up with the idea of the Apple computer. Most of you today have been influenced by a lot of the products that came from that ingenuity and the innovative idea.

So I would encourage you to continue down that path of figuring out how you can be innovative and how you can be unique. You may have industry experience, you may be working in a career that you’ve had for 10, 15 years, and you find that there’s a niche market that’s not being served. You’ve come up with an idea or a product that might fill that niche that other big companies don’t have the time to pursue. This is a great opportunity and a great reason to start a business. Some of you may say, “I really just want to control my future.” I think at the end of the day, that’s where I was. I wanted the ability to be in control and in charge, in charge of when I retire, even though that didn’t happen at the end of the day. Economic circumstances led me to wind down one of my businesses prematurely.

But controlling your future allows you to eat what you kill. A lot of people say, “Gee, I just don’t get paid enough for what I do.” Well, go ahead and start a business and you’ll find out whether you get paid enough or not. Be careful. You could end up, with all the hours you work, getting minimum wage or less. But I would look at really, seriously how you can reap what you sow. That was a great desire of mine when I started my business. I wanted my extra effort, my hard work of going above and beyond, to really pay off for me and for my family and to get that extra reward. And I think that’s a valid reason to start a business, but not the only reason to start a business.

Some of you may want to just have a second career. You’re coming to the end of your career, you’re looking at retirement and saying, “Gee, what am I going to do sitting around all day?” And you really want to ask yourself, “What would it be like? How long into retirement do I want to work? And what would this career look like?” I think it’s a valid reason, among many other reasons, to start a business.

Another one is to create financial security. Well, that may sound a bit like an oxymoron in starting a business because quite frankly, when you start a business, you’re really starting financial insecurity for a little while. And we’ll talk a little bit about that today and how to manage through that. In the other two parts of my series, we’ll also touch on this in depth to help you with that very concern that you have. But financial security can be created as you build wealth independent of your business. And you’ve heard me talk about that in my third episode about building enduring wealth. And I think that’s an important aspect to follow. But you can create wealth inside the business too, have an asset to sell, you can create a unique set of circumstances that’s rewarding for you.

So now I want to talk about some reasons why not to start a business. Now, we’re going to have a little bit of fun today on the podcast and on our YouTube channel. If you’ll bear with me, I’m going to change clothes a couple of times and come in and we’re going to role act or play act for you, some reasons not to start a business. And this is meant to be light and it’s not meant to discourage you, but it’s to help to put into perspective some things that I’ve observed through the years from people that have come to me with ideas to start a business, and I’ve been able to help them put that into proper perspective. So hopefully you’ll bear with me.

Is it alright if I kick off my sandals? You don’t mind joining me for a cold one on the beach, do you? Starting your own business is not something you really can do on the beach. Yes, I’ve read The 4-Hour Workweek, but I’m not sure that it symbolizes all that it’s cracked out to be. There is the freedom and the flexibility in owning your business. But let me tell you, in the first couple of years of any successful business, it’s going to eat your lunch and require more of your time than you can imagine.

So the number two reason not to start a business is freedom and flexibility. Don’t think you’re going to be on vacation all the time, or that you can go where you want when you want to. You may have control over some of the things that you do, like working till midnight on certain days so that you can make up for it by having fun doing something else, but freedom and flexibility by being at the beach every day—unless you’re a surfboard maker—probably not the idea of success.

I’m so excited to have you join me on this podcast, especially about making money. A lot of times people ask me, “What’s the number one reason to start a business?” I usually turn it on them: “Why would you start a business?” And the answer I usually get is, “To make money.” I think that’s absolutely the wrong answer. The answer should be that you start a business to enhance the lives of others by delivering a product or service in a way that changes their life. When you do that, the money will take care of itself. So get rid of the dollars and cents and focus on the people and making a difference in their lives.

Another word about the dollar signs. One time, I went to meet with a potential lender, and this was an unconventional lender—it was an owner of an insurance company. We had a rather unique project that we were trying to finance in the development business. And my CFO introduced me to this company. We went to interview them to talk to them about our project and their funding it. The owner of the insurance company came in wearing a pair of glasses, just like these. And it was funny at first and I kind of laughed, and then he took them off and we had a serious discussion about our project. But I could tell he was more interested in his return than he was interested in our success.

And I think people sense that. When people know that you’re after their money more than you’re after making them happy and providing them a quality product or service and making a difference in their life, they’ll make the right choice too. So if you want your business to be successful, do like I did. Avoid the person that’s wearing these.

And I also don’t think that we should run our businesses as if they’re hobbies. We’re there to make a profit, and so we need to be serious about it. And if it’s just a casual approach, it will be tough to be successful. There’s two reasons. Don’t make your hobby your business, and don’t make your business your hobby.

Hopefully, you’re laughing with me and not at me, as you share some of those goofy vignettes with your friends. Now to get more serious, what does it take to start a business? What can I expect as a first time business owner? Well, I think one of the aspects that it takes is sacrifice. If you haven’t learned to sacrifice, you will soon learn as you start your business. But let’s talk about it. What kinds of things do you sacrifice? One of the sacrifices that comes first to my mind is time. A sacrifice of time, meaning you don’t control the hours in your day, if your customers or clients need you, you need to be there. Especially in the early days before you have a lot of employees, it’s going to take a lot and consume a lot of your time. And you need to be able to set aside maybe some other hobbies, or pursuits, or some of your other recreation to be able to do what it takes to invest in your future because that’s what I view it as. It’s an investment in your future to spend that time.

The other sacrifice—and let me tell you, the sacrifice of time is rewarding in the future, but you have to pay the price today. The other sacrifice you may make is cash flow. Some of the initial cash flow from the business is going to be reinvested in other products, services, marketing that will help enhance the success and create long-term viability for your business. So you need to be prepared to live on less money. I remember the days when Carol and I lived on $25 a week in groceries. Of course, that was over 30 years ago. But you need to be willing to make those kinds of sacrifices if you really have a passion for your business, your product, your service, and for your customers.

The other thing that you need to be prepared for as you start a business is ask yourself, “Do I have the confidence?” Often, we get beat up. I told you I had some friends tell me, “Craig, what you’re going to do won’t work.” And it ended up being a very successful business, my development business. And I really took it to heart for two reasons. One, when they told me that, it made me want to step up and prove them wrong. So you have to be able to have the inner confidence to reach inside yourself. Believe in what you’re doing and have a reasonable chance of success. And then put all your energies into it. But without that confidence, any first easy setback could make you fold the tent. And I don’t think you want to do that when you’re going to really step aside from a full-time job, a well paying job to go and sacrifice your time, and your commitment, and your efforts, and your energies. You need to also have the confidence that it will work out. It requires patience to do that.

And so I want to talk about a list of questions you can ask yourself now of how well prepared you might be. One of the questions I think you should ask yourself is, “How much debt do I have?” Now, why would I ask that question? Aside from maybe the obvious, if I have a huge debt burden that the cash flow from the business isn’t able to sustain it, I might find myself having to deal with restructuring my personal finances all in the midst of having to spend the early days of my business focused on my clients. Something’s got to give. And in most cases it’ll probably detract from the business. What savings do I have? Or, how am I going to live during the initial months of my startup?

Another question you may ask is, “What is my financial support? Do I have an investor? Do I have family money that I can turn to and rely on in the early days to help me get started?” When I started my CPA firm, I was lucky. I was very fortunate that even though Carol and I had put our last savings down on a new home, I was able to use some of the resources I had having painted houses during the summertime while I went to college, and I was able to use the money. That saved me to help me get started. I was able to buy a phone and a desk, second hand and cheaply. But instead of having a security deposit, I was able to paint at the first office. And I think you have to look at those resources and be willing to sacrifice and really dig deep into how you are going to be financially supported.

You may ask yourself the question, “Where do I get emotional support? Do I have family or friends who believe in what I’m doing?” I still remember the day that my father-in-law when I told him why I was selling my CPA practice and going to move to Arizona, and my wife was by my side—his daughter. And he said to me, he goes, “Craig, you’re making a mistake.” And you know what? While I knew at that point in time I didn’t have his total buy-in, it gave me again the motivation to probably prove him wrong, although I love the man and I don’t really hold it against him. But, I knew I could turn to my wife because she had given me emotional support up to that point in the other business that I had started.

My father-in-law is a good man, and I don’t blame him. Looking back at his age at the time, he was in his mid-60s, he was retired from a long banking career, having risen to the top as the chairman and president of the bank. I could see him looking at me as a young 30-something-year-old and saying, “You’re crazy. You have everything you want. You have a good business and your family’s comfortable. Why would you mix it up now?” But I think you have to have that passion, but certainly look at where you get your emotional support. Then you have to ask yourself, “What doubts do I have?” Have you ever considered what are the inner demons that haunt you in your mind? You may have been criticized by others over your lifetime and you know you have some habits that maybe aren’t the best. And so will those cause doubts and fears to creep into the equation? You need to have some strong, inner-emotional resiliency to do that.

I’d like to introduce you to Kristin Harper. She will be our guest for Episode 9. So now we’re going to have a sneak peek. But before we do, let me share a bit of her bio. She’s a third-generation entrepreneur and has spent more than 30 years in business with brand and leadership experience from grassroots startups to global and iconic brands. After spending over 20 years in corporate America successfully leading brands like Crest, Oral-B, and Hershey’s Kisses, Kristin ventured into entrepreneurship. She is the CEO of Driven to Succeed, LLC, a leadership development company that provides brand strategy consulting, market research, keynotes, and leadership emotional intelligence and career coaching for Fortune 500 companies, entrepreneurs, and rising leaders.

I found Kristin recently on a CNBC article where she spoke about part of her book, which is The Heart of a Leader, and you can get that on her website or at Amazon, and her website, driventosucceedllc.com. Kristin has a 20-question test on emotional resiliency. I took that test and you know, I’m quite embarrassed to say, I barely got an above-average score. She’ll give you the ratings. She was kind enough to let us use this resource for our episode on starting a business.

Now, mind you, I’m not trying to discourage anyone from starting a business. I think we should have all the tools at our disposal. I found her 20 questions very enlightening. It helped point out some areas that I need to work on to strengthen my leadership skills and strengthen my emotional resiliency as I press forward in my ventures each and every day. I find the tool very useful and we’re grateful for Kristin and sharing it. And now have a sneak peak with Kristin Harper.

Kristin Harper:

Thank you.

Craig Willett:

In fact, what brought us together was this emotional resiliency quiz. Like I said, I probably fared just barely above average. I thought usually on most quizzes that I do, I do pretty well. But on this one, in being all honest with myself, I really identified some areas that I could work on. So how do you see being emotionally resilient as being helpful when starting a business?

Kristin Harper:

Entrepreneurship and starting a business is full of optimism and uncertainty. It’s full of plans and disruptions. It’s full of potential and it’s also full of challenge. And so resilience is critical when you’re starting a business and when you’re operating a business, because challenges will come. One of the biggest things that I’ve found as a leader—and it’s especially important for entrepreneurs—is to know your strengths and to know your areas of opportunity, and to hire and/or create a support system around what your areas of opportunity are. Because as a business owner, you probably believe like I do—that I can do, or I can learn how to do anything.

Craig Willett:

Sometimes it’s a big mistake.

Kristin Harper:

That time is so precious. And the definition of leverage is hiring experts so you can get to your destination faster. You stay in your lane where you’re an expert; hire other experts and you can get to your destination faster. So resilience is critical because there will be bumps and detours along the way. But if you have that strong belief that you have the work ethic to serve your clients or your customers, and you’re willing to pivot when necessary, that’s the definition of resilience for entrepreneurs and why it’s so important.

Craig Willett:

Well, I think that’s great. I’d never want to discourage anyone from starting a business. I think it represents the ultimate freedom of the founding fathers of our country. I think it represents all that America is based upon because it allows us to be individuals and to express our own worth to the world. And so I appreciate what you say. Now, when disappointment comes to a business owner, what do you recommend they do? Because sometimes you may have hired the experts to help, but sometimes you’re going to face disappointment or even failure and you may start looking at yourself and get discouraged. What do you recommend to help build some resiliency so that when those moments of disappointment or reality checks hit—how to bounce back and respond?

Kristin Harper:

Absolutely. I have lots of different strategies around how to not only bounce back, but also bounce forward. And I refer to it in my book as post-traumatic growth. That you can actually come out better than you were before. One is just mindfulness, being self-aware. How do you feel? Another is taking time to breathe, and taking time to slow down. As entrepreneurs and as business owners, we’re often so busy chasing that next deal, servicing our clients and customers. It’s important to stop and take a pulse check. So taking those moments to just think about things is really important.

I would also say, when you identify one emotion, it can reduce that emotion’s power over you. So that’s another mindfulness strategy, and I call it emotional granularity. Like being granular with the emotion that you feel. I would also say that there is no such thing as failure, as long as you learn from it. So the example I just gave about saying yes to the invite, afterwards, I was like, “Oh duh, I should’ve said yes right away.” But I learned from it. So there is no failure if you’re able to learn from it. I would also say—

Craig Willett:

And you bounced forward with it because you accepted it—

Kristin Harper:

Exactly.

Craig Willett:

And now it’s leading to other opportunities.

Kristin Harper:

A better outcome. Absolutely. I would also say that sometimes the goals we’re pursuing, at some point, it may not make sense to continue to pursue those goals if we keep running into challenge and roadblock. And so you’ve got to know when to hold them and know when to fold them. And I call that goal disengagement. Sometimes you have to disengage from a goal, create a new goal, and that new goal will bring that additional sense of optimism. The last thing I would share is gratitude—expressing gratitude. Because when you shift your mindset from what’s going wrong and what challenges you’re experiencing to what you’re grateful for or what you’ve learned, when you shift your focus, that’s what magnifies. Whatever you focus on is going to magnify. So those are a few strategies, and there are so many business owners who have faced substantial challenges, but they didn’t give up. They pivoted when it was necessary and they didn’t give up.

Craig Willett:

So I think it takes that. It takes some gut, it takes some fortitude to fight through that. But how do you know when you’re fighting against a losing cause? Because you said sometimes if you keep going up in bumping up against the same roadblocks, sometimes you can be deceived and think that maybe I should give up when maybe fighting through might be the best thing. So do you have a way you recommend people take that gut check and step back?

Kristin Harper:

Yeah. So I would say, look at the scoreboard. Whatever is the scoreboard for your business, look at that. Whether it’s the revenue, whether it’s the profit, whether it’s your margin, whether it’s the number of people who have said “yes” to a capabilities presentation. So look at the scoreboard. And it’s important that we keep metrics, especially as business owners, because we could easily be deceived by a lot of activity, but activity doesn’t always produce results. So I would say, look at the scoreboard, number one.

Number two, I would say solicit customer feedback—whether it’s your existing customers or clients, or whether it’s prospective customers or clients. And that takes a level of humility to ask for honest feedback, and then to put our guard down and our defenses down so that we can receive that honest feedback without being defensive. So those are the two ways that I would suggest determining if it’s worth moving forward or if you need to pivot.

Craig Willett:

Now, I know why we get along so well. You’ve just described to me what I call The Biz Sherpa scorecard. I suggest that people set a goal and objective, whatever it is for their business, and they spend 80% of their time—delegate the rest. In other words, the things that you can’t do well, give to someone else and focus on what you can do well. And the second thing is, measure every day your customers’ responses. And if you’re not getting anything, get on the phone and call them. And it gives you that opportunity to see, am I hitting my goals and objectives of my services, is my product resonating the way I would expect it to? Because that brings in and of itself an emotional reward to you that you’re not frustrated doing something that you could have delegated, number one.

And then in the second instance on the scorecard that I say is to get the customer feedback. If you’re not getting it, you need to go out and get it. And that can be very rewarding in and of itself, or it can help you set the objectives you need to do so that you can score better with your customers. And I think that brings the success. The dollars and cents will take care of themselves after that, because you’ll be happy, you’ll be fulfilled, and your customers will be happy. So I’m glad that you and I can totally relate. And so when I read your 20 questions, I thought, “This is great. I can do better in a lot of areas,” which I’m grateful for because it identified what you call areas of opportunity. I’ll call them weaknesses for me, because I’m okay saying that. I recognize that I have them, and I need to recognize them probably more often.

Now, let’s talk about some other questions now that we’ve had a good time with Kristin. And we appreciate her being here today and joining us on The Biz Sherpa podcast. I love having guests and especially guests as knowledgeable and as resourceful as she is.

Something else I think each of us need to look at and consider, and it’s really relevant in today’s environment, and that is, “How is my health?” Now, some of you may say, “Well, if my health is poor, does that make me not a good candidate to be a business owner?” And I say no. In some circumstances that can play to your benefit. It may be the only other option you have. You may have employers who don’t tell you they’re not willing to hire you, but you don’t make yourself a good candidate for an employee. And so you’re able to have the freedom, the flexibility to work around your conditions and maybe some of your disabilities.

So I wouldn’t say that that’s a gating factor, but you have to look at it. You have to look at, what do I do to engender good health? I’m fortunate. I think you heard my story about how I started my development business. It started one day when I got in a car accident and I had to really look at where I was going in my life and I started to get in better shape. And it taught me that I needed to really take care of my health. I was fortunate that I survived the accident, really. It was a very inconsequential accident, but it made me step back and start looking at what do I do on a daily basis to maintain my health.

And so I think you have to look at eating habits, because when you start a business, you’re going to be grabbing the fast food, you’re going to be going for drinks that may be the energy drinks. I think you need to be able to have some discipline in those areas. I have a routine of running, or swimming, or yoga. And I recommend that you figure out what that routine is and you stick to it, even though the demands of business are going to be taxing demands on your time. It’s not an area you can afford to sacrifice. As you build up that health, you’ll have the resilience to withstand all the pressures of business, I promise you.

You might want to ask yourself, how good am I at creating and organizing a structure, and being able to organize without a lot of direction? When you start a business, you’re starting from scratch. It’s a blank piece of paper. So you have to be able to have a vision. You have to be able to sell that vision. You have to be able to help others see that vision. You have to be able to paint it. You have to be able to take from thin air and create and organize a structure that will work for you and that will be a framework for your business.

You might want to ask yourself, “What’s my tolerance for stress?” And I refer back to Kristin’s emotional resiliency, but I’d like to add a couple of things to that. What do I do to control my stress? And I would say, you should have a plan. You may say, “I have no stress.” And I’d like to meet you if you go around having no stress, because I’ve always been a ball of stress my whole life. And poor Carol, she’s had to deal with it every time that I’ve had to de-stress. So let’s talk about what I’ve found.

I had a client early in my CPA career who said to me, he goes, “Craig, you’re going to burn out as a CPA someday.” And he was a house painter, so I don’t know how he knew I was going to burn out or could predict that. But he said, “You have to have a hobby.” And I said, “Well, what are your hobbies?” And he said, “Bowling, and I go golfing.” And Carol had been bugging me to join the country club and to learn to golf. She was a golfer. And so I actually took up the hobby of golfing and I didn’t take up bowling though, but I did take up golfing. And then I took up traveling. I do like to travel. And we’ll talk about that in a little bit.

Before I started my CPA firm, I was working with another CPA firm and I had an experience one day that left a mark on me. A guy came in, he was a retired CPA. And here’s a great lesson. I’m finally hiring someone else to do my own taxes after all these years of owning other businesses and having retired from the CPA business in 1999. So that’s been a long time. He came in to pick up his tax return that our firm had prepared. And I was the one that got to take it out and sit down and meet with him. I hadn’t talked to him before.

And as I handed him his tax return, he said to me, he said, “Let me tell you a story.” He said, “When I started my CPA firm—” And so this was a long time ago. So he was probably 40 years into his career. He said, “I went in and wanted to get a loan from a bank to help me so I had a line of credit to help me during the slower months, because when you do tax returns, you’d get a lot of cash flow during the months of March and April, typically.” He said, “I went in to the bank and I took out my business plan and I left it with them. And then I went back a couple days later to meet with the banker. And the banker told me, he says, I’m not going to make you the loan.”

And he looked at him frustrated and he goes, “I had a great business plan. What’s wrong with it?” He said, “You had no line in there for expenses to take a vacation.” He said, “I’m not going to lend to you as a banker unless you as a CPA are going to take a vacation every year so that I know that you have the sharpness and that you’re not burning out.” And I thought to myself, “What a great lesson.” I don’t know why he shared it with me till today, but I took that to heart and I would always go on vacation. In fact, one of the last years of being a CPA, I did something I always wanted to do: go on vacation before April 15th. And I left a few days before.

And it just so happens that when I went, the IRS showed up to do a surprise audit, but I was out on the golf course in Arizona, and they were at my office in Utah. I allowed them to proceed to do it, but I didn’t have to be there to put up with the pain of their surprise audit in my office. So I thought I actually scored on that one. So I do recommend that you have a plan. And my plan is to have a hobby and that you do it regularly, and to take vacation time. There’ll be certain times where you can’t because of the rigors and the demands of the business, but you need to set it aside. If you don’t, I promise you, you’ll struggle later on.

And then the other question you need to ask, what is my tolerance for risk? If you can’t tolerate a lot of risk, you may do—There are some businesses that don’t require a lot of risk. In fact, I had one. It’s the CPA. It didn’t take a lot of risk. I didn’t have a huge capital investment and all I had was my education and my experience. And so the risk I was taking is that people didn’t like my personality, couldn’t find my office, or didn’t think I was competent to do their tax returns. But other businesses may be more complex. And you need to look at the type of risk tolerance it’s going to take, not only to be able to take the naysayers on, but also to be able to take on the inherent rigors of certain business types. And we’ll go into that more in another part of our series.

And then probably last of all, something I want to talk about is plan B. I’ve never been one to have a plan B. So I can’t even believe I put this on my list today. But sometimes I think it’s good to have a plan B. What are you going to do if things aren’t quite working out with your business, or maybe your product? Maybe you have a different product or a different service that you’re gearing up so that you have something else to boost the potential for your success. I think it’s wise to always look for a plan B, not as a quick escape, but as a prudent step to ensure success of your business.

Now, I hope that today, the questions that we’ve talked about will make a difference for you. And I hope you had fun with our little vignette and that you’re still laughing about that. And I hope you’re smiling because of Kristin Harper and the dimension that she added to it. I really recommend using her resource to test your emotional resiliency. And as you do, look at where you can build it up.

Through my life, I’ve experienced greater success as I’ve looked at my weaknesses and tried to help them become my strengths. And I think that’s what it takes as a business owner. You’re not going to be without weakness. You’re not going to be without your failures. You’re not going to be without mistakes. If you’re a fan of my podcast and you’ve listened to it, you know what I mean. I’ve shared with you my failures. I’ve shared with you what I’ve learned from them. I’ve shared with you some of my successes. And in each one of them, we can gain strengths, both from our successes and from our failures. What we don’t want to do is that our failures are so big that they put us out of business. We can make small mistakes. You just want to have more successes than failures.

So I look forward to you joining us for Episode 2. In Episode 2, we’re going to talk about pricing your product, marketing your product, finding your first customers. We’re going to talk about this cash flow versus profitability. We’re going to talk about finding your first customers. We’re going to talk about your cost structure. And we’re going to talk about financing your startup. I hope you’ll join me for the second episode and that you’ll share with others today’s video and audio podcast, that it may benefit somebody who’s looking to start a business. This is why I started this podcast.

During the financial crisis, I sat back and my phone was ringing. A lot of people were calling me for help. They’re asking me if I could come help them. And I didn’t want to charge anyone. So I didn’t. I went and helped people get their PPP loans. I helped people stay encouraged to stay in business and figure out some plans, because I think no one plans for a pandemic and no one plans for a financial crisis, but we can plan for difficulties in that. And I hope today you’ve had some thoughts of what you can do.

But during that time during the pandemic, I thought to myself, “How can I best help other people?” And I thought back to my dream that I had before it crashed down when I had to deal with the financial crisis, when I told my assistant, when I said, “Terry, I really want to help the next generation.” And I’ve done that by helping some of them start their business. But I want to have a more far reaching impact, not for me and not for notoriety for myself, but I want to go to bed each night knowing that maybe someone somewhere heard something that I said and it changed their perspective, gave them motivation, and gave them the courage to take the next step to start a business, and to experience the freedom and the rewards and the wealth-building potential that that has. That’s my dream. This is Craig Willett, The Biz Sherpa. See you for our second part in our “Starting Your Business” series next week.

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