Year 1 in the Books
Unlike a lot of business owners starting Focus GTS wasn’t something my wife Brittany and I planned. It sort of just happened. In the fall of 2017, I left the Specialist Staffing Group planning to start a staffing company with a partner who I’d spent the last several months talking to. Having always had a dream to own something myself and after several months of contemplation it seemed like the right opportunity, however, when the partner arrived in Miami for a week of planning common sense told me that this individual wouldn’t be the right person for me to be working with day by day and I let him know it wasn’t going to work. Luckily, I did have one backup option that I was able to get lined up for January 2nd so we went to spend the Christmas holiday with our families only to come back on the 2nd to find out that option fell through as well.
So here we were on January 2nd of 2018 not sure what to do. I had given up an extremely well paying job to start a business with a partner and with Brittany intending on joining me and now it was just us. We thought about the different options we had but ultimately realized that life happens for us, not to us. The only logical step was to incorporate the business order a couple of phones and get after it. Through that chaos on January 2nd 2018 Focus GTS was born from the second bedroom of our condo in Sunny Isles. It seems strange to think that was only a year ago as so much has happened since then. 2018 was an amazing learning experience for us but I believe it’s set us up for long-term success as a company and with 20/20 hindsight these are the top 5 tips Britt and I would give to anyone starting or considering starting a business.
A little chaos is to be expected – Running a business is ultimately about putting together systems that make your outcomes, revenues, and cash flow consistently. The problem is that when you first start out, once you have your product the main focus needs to be on getting money in the door. If you don’t have investors backing you (which we didn’t) you’ll need to be ok with most of those systems not up and running right away. It took 3 months before our website was live and 2 months of using an excel spreadsheet before we had our CRM. If we had worried about getting those things right from the get go we would have massively delayed getting money in the door.
Invest in your education as much as you put into the business – 2018 was a year of learning for us as we quickly realized we had no idea how to run a business. Although having a business degree is great and learning as you go is even better when your own money and livelihood is on the line you can’t always afford to make beginners mistakes. Realizing this early on we started investing in educating ourselves and getting around the right people who had traveled this path before us. We enrolled in Tony Robbin’s Business Mastery course which felt like we got a full emersion MBA in 5 days and joined our first Master Mind group in LA. This meant that we needed to be away from the business several days over the course of the year but we knew the trade-off was worth it and this will be something we continue to do in the coming years.
Be prepared to not get paid for a while – One of the quickest ways a business can fall apart is when the owners begin cannibalizing profits out of necessity or greed. When starting a business you’re going to need to be prepared to “go without” for a while so you can re-invest any cash you make back into the business to fuel its growth. As a new business owner, it is essential that you have a big enough cushion in the bank to survive for at least 6 months, maybe a year. Also, consider your current lifestyle and be willing to take a step back for a while if necessary.
Cashflow is the name of the game in B2B – If you’re in any type of business to business operation cash flow is everything. Understanding how to negotiate payment terms and being able to project cash on hand is going to be vital to your survival. At the same time, it’s not uncommon to get yourself into a situation where you may be short on cash. Although these situations can be scary, especially if this is your first time in business, being short on cash doesn’t mean you need to close your doors. There are many creative options for managing cash flow that you can use and set up these relationships and strategies in advance will make for a much smoother ride.
Begin with the end in mind – If you don’t have a destination your probably not going to get anywhere and you could even end up somewhere you never intended to so make sure you know what your endgame is from the get-go. This doesn’t mean you have to stick to that plan forever, priorities change and being able to pivot is an essential business skill but you’ll become way more successful faster if you know where you're going. Whether your goal is to build and sell, take the company public or build a system that makes you redundant and provides a steady cash flow stream each of these goals will require a different strategy so don’t start the journey without a map!
So here we are, the end of our first year in business and we’ve come a long way from that first day of chaos in the 2nd bedroom of our condo. Since then we now have a total of 9 people working in our office, built out an incredible portfolio of clients, have created a world-class training program, met a ton of amazing people, and set ourselves up for a tremendous year 2. If you’re thinking of starting a business in 2019 or maybe already have, take action on these 5 steps and we know you’ll be much closer to success.
Wishing you an amazing and prosperous 2019!
Dave & Brittany Fox
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