7 tips for setting up your new business

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… use it, don’t use it…

  1. 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.
  2. Sign up for Office 365. Don’t try be clever and use Google Docs etc. Everyone knows Office, stick to it. And 365 is perfect because it’s a rental model, which saves you cash upfront and plugs you into an infinite upgrade stream.
  3. For email, domain registration and web hosting use Hetzner.co.za. The UX isn’t as beautiful as GoDaddy, but its local (fast) and it works. And if you have a problem they have a call centre in your time zone.
  4. For brand, nail it early; it makes life easy going forward. Find someone 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.
  5. Buying stuff. Especially when you come from corporate, you’ll be at a loss as to how to do things yourself, i.e.: buy printing paper. Fear not, its possible. Try buy yourself. You’ll find you get better deals than big companies do, even though they supposedly have much greater buying power.
  6. Use Macs. I know this flies in the face of “frugality”, but Apple makes the best hardware, and it looks cool. And, because it never breaks, you have less need for IT support (see point 1).
  7. Use DropBox. Ignore the noise of the other vendors. For now, DropBox is the best document storage & sharing platform, and most people know how to use it.

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, try outsource to the specialists. Evernote, Salesforce and WordPress are the best at what they do.

The rule of thumb is: If it costs money, I’m out.