The 6 Things You Must Have in the First Year of Business

It is passion that pushes you through the difficult times and gravitates you toward the elements of your lifestyle which you love doing.

Many times, I’ve been approached about starting a company. Most of the time, it goes like this. (phone rings) “Hey Jeff. This is Josh, I’m your friend Isaac’s former room mates best friend from elementary school. I am looking to start a business and people tell me you are the guy to talk to for help.” After that opens a floodgate of life story on how they want to build such and such product and mass produce it because there isn’t a good model out there. An if I build it, they will come approach. They try to build a C Corp and the other owners are the web programmer (who is also the former roommate) and someone who was in their philosophy class that happened to be an accounting major.

WRONG

While I could talk a lot about why you should start a business, here is a list of 6 things you must have in the first year of business. If you have these things, you will be successful. If you don’t, you are setting yourself up for failure.

  1. A computer
  2. A revenue stream
  3. A website
  4. A business plan
  5. An elevator pitch
  6. Passion

By the way, many people will argue with me about these. Go right ahead.  There’s a comment page on the original post (smallbusinessliving.com/first-year-of-business). I’ve watched hundreds of businesses start up and if ever they were missing any of these elements, they failed.

So I’m going to give you a couple of factors to keep in mind when completing your own checklist for your own business.

 

1) A computer

If you are going to start your business as a one man show, or if you will be working out of office, get a laptop. The newer laptops, even bottom end models, are quite powerful and have a great battery life (this is the laptop I use). If you are swiping credit cards in store, the computer can double over as a card reader (but try to keep your cash register separate from your business computer if you can help it.) If you have a personal laptop, you can use that as long as it’s powerful enough to handle your daily business needs.

 

2) A revenue stream

This is covered in detail in another article (The First 5 Things to Do When You Want to Start a Business) but I’ll give you a little bit here. Don’t take a lump of cash to start a business and don’t assume that working capital is optional. Get a revenue stream that will indefinitely pay into your business. This will keep you from getting stuck in I’m-running-out-of-money-and-freaking-out syndrome. However, if you have a management involved investor or a business consultant who specializes in startups, then you can take a lump sum, as long as your business plan and investment account line up.

 

3) A website

Some people think this one is optional. It’s not. I’ve been working in the web and e-commerce for years. The industry is way to big online for you not to be there and remain competitive, be it online or offline. 90% of people Google before making a buying decision. You need a website.

 

4) A business plan

There is not one professional in the world who will tell you to start a business without a business plan. If you have the money, hire a consultant to help you put one together. Do this before you open for business.

 

5) An elevator pitch

“What do you do for a living?” You will answer this question over and over. It’s a guarantee. So why not prepare for it ahead of time? A good elevator pitch is a 10 second synopsis of the need you solve with your work. A good elevator pitch does not answer a question, it entices more questions. Start practicing your elevator pitch now and never stop making changes.

 

6) Passion

At the beginning of your business, it’s all gravy. Wonderful, exciting, exhilarating days pile on top of days. After a little while (a few weeks, perhaps) the newness dies and you are left with cold, hard reality. You are making beans and working too hard for them. Without the passion, you will fail. It is passion that pushes you through the difficult times and gravitates you toward the elements of your lifestyle which you love doing.

 

I tried to include plenty of links for more reading. If you are still wanting more information, comment below. We can talk about it.

  • Excellent post and great advice for getting started. The way you explained it simplifies the process and makes it sound much more doable!

  • Jeff Brown

    Thank you Angela! I know how overwhelming it can feel to start a new business, so I really hope it is helpful for some entrepreneurs out there!