Here is a short list for setting up your own business, especially for those coming out of big companies in the brave new world of start-ups…
- Do not hire an IT guy. Especially when coming out of corporate, the world of IT seems so intimidating that it feels absolutely necessary to bring in an expert. Aside from the danger of adding overheads, an IT guy lets you abdicate responsibility for an important part of your business that’s actually not so difficult nowadays.
- Sign up for Office 365 or Google Docs. Don’t try be cool and go with the latest craze. If you know Office, stick to it. 365 is perfect because it’s a rental model, which saves you cash upfront and plugs you into an infinite upgrade stream.
- For email, domain registration and web hosting use Hetzner.co.za. The UX isn’t as nice as GoDaddy, but its local (fast) and it works. And if you have a problem they have a call centre in your time zone.
- For brand, nail it early; it makes life easy going forward. Find someone (an individual) who provides the full bouquet: logo, letterhead, business cards, website. DO NOT USE AN AD AGENCY. If you become a monster corporation one day, sure, go ahead and use the likes of Ogilvy. Until then, be frugal.
- Buy stuff yourself. Especially when you come from corporate, you’ll be at a loss as to how to do things yourself, i.e.: buy printing paper, book flights. Fear not, its possible. You’ll find you get better deals than big companies do, even though they supposedly have much greater buying power. Also, you’ll get a feel for how much stuff costs in the real world.
- Use Macs. I know this flies in the face of “frugality”, but Apple makes the best hardware. It never breaks so you have less need for IT support (see point 1), and it looks cool. Whats the point of working for yourself if you can’t look cool?
- Use the cloud. Ignore the noise of the all non-cloud vendors. Use the cloud for document storage (Box), sharing (Slack), CRM (Salesforce), etc etc.
When in doubt, don’t do anything. There are many things that seem essential for business when you’re in corporate, but which are in fact superfluous.
Generally speaking, learn to do it yourself. If you can’t figure it out, try outsource to the specialists.
No matter what, be frugal.