Crawl. Walk. Run.

Crawl. Walk. Run. is an educational series for business owners at any stage of a company’s life cycle.  Whether you have just an idea percolating, or are ready to grow your current business, CWR provides expert guidance to keep you in business and out of trouble.

Just as the President consults his Cabinet of subject matter experts, business owners must surround themselves with a team of advisors.  At a minimum, this team should include a CPA, a banker, an insurance agent, and, of course, an attorney.  (I know, *groan*.)  Eventually you’ll bring a financial advisor into the mix to help you figure out what to do with your new wealth, and other more specialized consultants as your needs dictate. Because this team approach is so critical, and because no one wants to listen to a lawyer talk for long stretches, we’ll be enlisting the help of other experts to cover topics like business plans, accounting, understanding your insurance coverage, lending, and others.

We’ve broken up the offerings into three parts.  The first, Crawl, is geared toward those of you just starting out, and covers topics from testing the feasibility of your idea all the way through to getting your doors open.

Walk is tailored to business owners who have opened their doors and are experiencing some rough patches, are encountering new issues, or who are exploring other ways of positioning their companies for success.

Run is for those of you whose businesses are running like well-oiled machines.  You have key employees in place and they’re loyal.  You have implemented systems that are being followed and are creating efficiencies.  Now, it’s time to explore what’s next.

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Crawl

So you want to start a business?  During the recession, many businesses were started out of necessity, by people who were truly wired, or at least conditioned, to be employees. Owning a business is starkly different from working for someone else and it’s worth doing some introspection to determine whether being self-employed will fuel you or tax you.

We’ll talk about whether entrepreneurs are born or bred, how you analyze your hard-wiring, and examine whether business ownership is truly right for you.  If you’re one of us crazy people who would rather work 80 hours for ourselves than work 40 for someone else, then let’s talk about getting your business going.

Some of the most important decisions you’ll make about your business need to be made long before you open your doors, including how you’ll eventually exit your business.  Counterintuitive?  Yes.  Panic-inducing?  Not necessarily.  Having a business plan is critical, and now is the time to assemble your team. We’ll discuss how to choose the right advisors, how to structure your business, licensing and regulations, how to bootstrap, the nuts and bolts of getting your doors open, how to run a lean business, and some effective marketing methods.

 

Walk

Being a business owner is a lot like the Wizard of Oz.  You may want to give the appearance of being great and powerful, but we all know there’s a guy behind the curtain frantically working the controls.  It’s okay to be that guy.  It’s okay not to know what all the controls do, or how to work them.  And it’s okay to ask for help.

Once you’ve gotten your business up and running, you will inevitably encounter things you never expected – employee issues, disputes with partners, regulations you never knew about, and nuances of your industry that weren’t in the brochures.  We’ll help you tackle those issues head-on and implement processes and procedures to help keep you out of trouble.

It’s not all rainclouds, though.  We’ll also discuss getting your business certified to create new marketing opportunities, how to choose a business location and what to look for in your lease agreement, and ways to maximize efficiency.  This is the phase in which you’ll want to start delegating some responsibility to others.  Many business owners are terrible delegators, so we’ll discuss ways you can begin to loosen the white-knuckle grip you have on all aspects of your business, so you can focus on more important things.

 

Run

Congratulations.  Your business is humming along, you’ve hired and retained key employees to handle the heavy lifting, you need only make minor tweaks here and there, you’re cutting out early to go golf or to the spa, and you’re mastering the art of working only a few hours a day.  If you’re like most business owners, you’re bored and thinking “what’s next?”  In this segment, we’ll discuss expanding into other markets, seeking new opportunities, buttoning down your processes, and how to prepare – both yourself and your business – for an exit.