photodune-6684582-top-10-xsIs it easier or harder to start a company in 2014 than it was in 1985?

This became the basis for a fun conversation among my friends and me as we enjoyed a good meal at a nice restaurant. As our evening progressed, the laughter drowned out the waiter as we shared stories of our lives and our startup adventures. Stories that were sad and poignant then are funny…. finally! Like when I couldn’t make payroll and had to use credit cards or when smoke from a fire next door wiped out our manufacturing plant.  Yeah those were to good old days. 🙂

Our conversation moved to one of starting a new company and that’s when the sparks began to fly. I said it’s easier for young people now. Others said it was easier for us in 1985. Back and forth we went and in the end we were just happy to be together.

It occurred to me that Entrepreneurs have more help now than they did in 1985 and I suspect many new entrepreneurs don’t even realize what they can accomplish with just a great idea, a laptop and a phone. Yet, we all did agree that there are at least 10 Commandments that would serve young entrepreneurs well.

1. Thou shalt interrupt.

Simply stated, polite is dead, and in-your-face interruption marketing is back with a twist. It needs to be specifically aimed at individual interests and topics. Now, as marketers with modern tools we can target people who self select topics according to what they want to know about and when. If you are looking at new motorcycles online, radical new designs from new companies will need to reach you right? Any you WANT to hear from them. Go forth and interrupt!

2. Honor thy unsubscribe.

Don’t you hate it when you can’t actually unsubscribe from a stream of annoying messages? So do others. If someone submits an unsubscribe request, just do the right thing, honor the person’s right to NOT read your stuff. Here’s what you can do: you can ask why. And sometimes you’ll get an answer. So create a cute, snarky form that’s entertaining and communicative and ask why they want to unsubscribe, provide space for an answer, provide options for reducing the amount of email but not eliminate entirely, all at the prospect’s option.

photodune-878026-sell-xs3. Thou shalt not spin yarns.

Yes, we realize you are the best, most amazing and incredible person in the world but for heaven’s sake, start your relationship with trust. Use a great testimonial to lead and then embellish with how your skills or products will help your new prospect. It’s all about them but be genuine and honest. If you’ve been reading my blog, you saw my post about this recently. For expensive, longer term services and big ticket products, nothing works better than trust built slowly and with care. Establish it early and reinforce it constantly.

4. Honor thy mentor.

It’s no sin to have a coach, mentor or some gray hair on your side. In most cases you are going to save lots of time and money. The ego involved in going at it alone is wasted since no one cares. You just want to be successful so why not take every advantage available to you? It’s a time honored tradition that experienced folk help the inexperienced. Large organizations are less shy about this than ever before, they want to get more senior talent in to help their newer executives be the best they can be. Why not you?

5. Thou shalt not take the name of Google in vain.

This applies to all social media and you probably know this but… if you don’t have all bases covered and don’t build your base of content, contacts, friends, likes, links and mentions, you are behind the rest of the world. I know some successful business owners who say they never needed social media to grow, but that was then, not now. You need it. Hire someone to do it for you if you can’t do it yourself. Even better, learn how. But there’s no time left, you have to do this now.

photodune-354100-at-round-table-xs6. Remember thy Mastermind and keep it active.

These days, the most cost effective way to build a “kitchen cabinet” is to join a Mastermind. It’s a collection of really smart CEO’s with problems similar to yours, who gather together to help each other with wisdom, creativity and actual help. Don’t pass up the chance to become one with a Mastermind group and give and take as much as you can. It will pay you back in spades!

 7. Party like it’s 43 BC.

Everyone likes to party. Well, almost everyone. Maybe not you sir, standing there looking down at your shoes. But for the rest of us, let’s celebrate success. Driving hard is one thing but make success real by reaping some of the rewards now. You’re only going to live 100 years and in the big picture of all eternity, that’s a blip. So don’t waste time being sullen when you succeed, break out into song, go for some sushi, make some fun happen for you and your team and everyone will want more of that success stuff to happen.

8. Respect thy needs.

Let’s face it, we are still human engines that run on food, rest and caffeine. So get into a rhythm and stick to it but you get to set the pace. Wake up early, do some exercises and eat something that fuels your brain. Then work like a maniac and push yourself hard. That’s what being an entrepreneur is all about.

9. Honor thy Mom and Dad.

Sure, they invested in your startup and made out like bandits, but you still might consider calling them once in a while. My mom invested $10,000 in my startup in 1985, and 9 years later when we sold the company, she received $100,000 back. While not every investment has a payback, they likely didn’t do it for the money. Most parents would enjoy sharing that experience with you so keep them in the loop, I know they will appreciate it. And who knows… You might need another contribution to your next friends and family round. Now that I have my own young entrepreneur in college, I know that call will come soon. Can’t wait!

 10. Thou shall not compare yourself to others.

Years ago, I worked with a guy who had a photographic memory and he understood everything with full comprehension! I became jealous and dissatisfied with my own achievements because I focused on what he could accomplish. I was being foolish. I can only compare myself to me. No one else, that is if I want to stay happy and productive. As long as you improve everything all the time, you are fine. There are always people in this world who are smarter, taller, thinner, richer and wittier than you. Live with it happily by tracking your own progress in order to see how well you actually are doing!

Being comfortable is bad. Yes, I know you like it. Get off that couch and make something good happen. You can work half days easily (that’s 12 hours of your 24 hour day) and that gives you time for your startup. No more StarTrek for you. Go work on your business plan, social media links and product. That’s your job and I highly recommend doing it while you still can. Take it from me, I’ve been down this road several times and I marvel how time after time, hard work just makes me lucky. Just a coincidence I’m sure.

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