I wanted to be a diver. After watching the 1996 summer Olympics, I swore, at that moment – diving was my calling. I was going to be a Gold Medalist in four short years, and I would do it all with hard work and a hot pink diver’s cap. Marry Ellen Clark move over!!
Always supportive, my parents signed me up for a dive team and my dream of becoming the next American diving hero was in fruition! I arrived to my first dive class, I climbed the ladder, and… I froze. The perpetual thought of hitting my head and dying in a bloody pool of water petrified me to the back of the line. Not one class, but five classes of lingering in the back of the line later, I realized, eh… I’m a terrible diver. And thus I moved on to my next goal to be a dancer.
Maybe I err towards the conservative, but needless to say I was not born with the innate desire to be a risk taker. No sir. I was very happy in the back of the line chatting it up with my fellow divers. And once I decided to move more seriously into dance, I realized how much I enjoyed the ground beneath me and not coming towards my head.
So what does this have to do with business? While many Americans search for their Gold Metal dream, one has to wonder how it all begins… I sure did before I founded the Torres Groupe. Once I realized I wanted to do something on my own, I knew it had to be something I was comfortable doing. Like my desires to be a diver, starting a business is risky, but if you analyze the risks beforehand you will be better prepared for the fall. And trust me there are many!
This isn’t the first company I’ve started. Honestly, most of them were way too out of my league, and I would have needed capital in the sum of Bill Gates bank account to make it happen. A girl can dream though! But without those failures I wouldn’t have realized this Barefoot Contessa style recipe for starting a company. What you need is the following (and yes, the simplicity of it will blow your mind):
- Start Small. Kind of like taking small bites at a meal, starting a business should be about taking small comfortable steps to reach the next goal. Very rarely do companies make it big right away (you can Google start-up success rates later) so be patient and take risks you are comfortable with. If you are not a diver take don’t dive!
- Treat your business like an infant. Coddle it. Nurture it. And talk about it all the time to your friends and family. Why? Because you will develop a strong support system that will empower you when you are feeling down. (Thank you to everyone that was there for my mini-melt down last week – I owe you a drink).
- Outsource – when you can. I’m awesome at math but a terrible accountant. I’m sure if I allocated the time I would be a kick-ass CPA, but I’d rather do what I do, and that is not accounting. That’s when I outsource to Bruce. He’s my CPA and has been doing my taxes for years… which brings me to my next point.
- Surround yourself with people you trust. Like Bruce. Well not MY Bruce, but you get the point. I have a bunch of Lawyer friends and a few things I’ve learned from them is that there are a lot of people that -a) hate their jobs -b) don’t care about your business -c) will take your money. So ensure that you have a circle of people that believe in you, and your cause! There is nothing more valuable than your connections. And yes, seek advice from a great lawyer who will help guide you along the way.
- Last, but not least, deliver results. You will work hard for that money and you will stay up until 3:00am with your “baby infant” researching anything from ‘how to make a flier’ to ‘will my business bomb the first year.’ But the only thing that will speak volumes is RESULTS. So follow up with your clients continuously. Not just the person that contracted you, but the people you collaborate with.
My dream to be a world class diver never blossomed, but honestly I learned a pretty valuable lesson – I’m always ready for a challenge, but I know how to walk down a ladder when it’s too much. If you are looking to start a business -I suggest you take a long look at yourself and what you feel comfortable doing. You and only you! Not your friends, not your business partners, not your mom (sorry mommy!), but YOU. Once you know you know where your head is then you can start a business in what you love. This way you keep your feet firmly planted on the ground and your head with your dreams… right where it belongs. Sorry divers, this back of the line chick will be with the synchronized swimmers 😉