He Was Starting A Business: Entrepreneurship Meant New Actions To Take

We were flying down the highway on a three-hour trip, hurtling through space and time, ensconced in the drone of the engine, the whistle of the wind outside the windows, and the hum of tires on the road. We had time on our hands. He knew I have business training and experience. He asked me about starting a business he had in mind. “I guess I need a business license. Should I form a Corporation or LLC? Is logo and trademark registration expensive? I suppose I should publish a web site. Where should I advertise?”* What I told him varied greatly from what he thought a startup would do.

Entrepreneurship Is Big Business, And Nobody Is Guaranteeing Startup Success

I’ve fallen for every misguided approach to starting a business. Attorneys have happily sold me business incorporation services. I’ve bought dozens of books, courses, and programs about how to start a business. Coaches and trainers have delivered dozens of hours and thousands of dollars of leadership and performance training and coaching.

Still, I have no sustainable business to show for it.

We Make It Too Complicated

I channeled for him the best advice I know about how to start a business:

  1. Lean Startup has revealed the cash flow management secret for early startups: don’t spend a penny on anything except creating a minimum viable product you know a paying customer wants.
  2. Shark Tank has revealed the simple secret to starting a business: you don’t have a business until you have a paying customer.

I gladly shared those secrets with him:

Don’t spend a penny on incorporation or licensing or advertising until you have a clear picture of your product and the customers who’ll buy it. Shop competitors and talk to probable customers about what is now offered in the market and what customers want. In conversations with them, define the features of your first product or service. First, understand the benefits desired by the customer, which the customer will be willing to pay for.

Until my friend has product/market fit and some volume, he’s just paying for business services he doesn’t really need, to formalize a business that doesn’t really exist. He’d be a customer of somebody else’s business, who isn’t doing him any favors by selling him services to formalize a business he doesn’t really have.

Finally, he knew what to do. He was no longer distracted by red herrings like whether to form a LLC or C Corp, where to go for a business license, or how to go about protecting his trademarks. Suddenly, he liked his corporate job a lot more.

*(While I’ve placed conversations in quotes, they’re not exact quotes of the conversations. They’re representative of the spirit and content of the conversations, as I recall them.)


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Dylan Cornelius helps business people create laser-like focus on exactly what they want in their lives and businesses, re-invent themselves, their lifestyles, and their business systems to powerfully support getting those results, devise workable action plans to deliver the results, and master the skills necessary to build and sustain the results — all in 10 sessions over 4 months.

Our approach works because it enables anyone to quickly leverage fundamentals of sustainable change revealed in:
– a decade coaching individuals to breakthrough results in their lives, including weight and fitness, job and career, relationships and effectiveness, satisfaction and decision-making,
– more than two decades building products and leading large scale change for Fortune 500 companies including Dun & Bradstreet, Oracle, IBM, Accenture, Deloitte Consulting, Best Buy, Circuit City, CVS, Sears Holdings, Ross Stores (Dress For Less), and Applied Materials,
– training in neuroscience and human development at UC Berkeley, management of innovation at Santa Clara University, and ontology and phenomenology at Landmark Worldwide.

You care because any aspect of your life or business that does not serve you, your family, and community diminishes the gift you’ve been given in life.


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