Last month I addressed the first five rules for starting a business. Here's the rest of the list.
6. Look bigger than you are (and avoid things that make you look amateur) I may have printed my first business cards with VistaPrint.com, but they looked pretty good. They were clean, included a mailing address, and featured business email that tied to my URL. If you’re using a Hotmail, Gmail or Yahoo email address for your business, buyers will assume you’re small and amateur.
People like working with companies that are small, but they don’t like working with amateur. As a new business, you immediately need to prove to the world that you’re serious, that you’re professional, that you can be trusted to achieve the objective or solve the problem that the client has.
7. Get a mentor or three (or an advisory board) You don’t know what you’re doing, by definition. Others have been there, and even if they haven’t been exactly where you’re going, they’ve been around the block long enough to have a perspective you need.
Think of the 2-3 people in your life right now, people you already trust for advice or would like to get to know better. Invite them to be a mentor. It can be as simple as a bi-monthly lunch where you bring a short set of challenges to discuss. Or you can create a more formal advisory board that meets quarterly and helps you tackle opportunities and growing pains.
8. Schedule time off and stick to it You can’t work all the time. Even if you love it, even if parts of your business feel like fun, you have to step away. If you have to, literally schedule evenings each week in which you put away your computer and phone when you walk in the door at night, and don’t look at them again until morning.
Better yet, do the same thing for a 24-hour period over the weekend (say Saturday afternoon to Sunday afternoon). Get your spouse or significant other to help you stay accountable to this if you need the help. But this will force you to be a bit more efficient during your work time leading up to those breaks, and it will make you more energized when you pick things back up.
9. Exercise and eat better Make time for this, too. Sign up for a 10K a few months from now and shame yourself into sticking to a training plan. Bring your lunch to work more often. Be really careful about what you eat and drink when traveling (and consider getting up just 30 minutes earlier to hit the hotel gym briefly).
You will feel better, have more energy and endurance if you do these things.
10. Think big, triage, then focus & get stuff done You will not run out of ideas. If you let them, they’ll keep coming and they’ll all sound really good. But you aren’t going to be able to tackle even half of them, not anytime soon.
Let your mind wander, think big, but write it all down and review your list often. Separate what’s vital to the business now and what can wait until the next time you review the list. Stay laser-focused on what’s most important and get those things done.
I especially believe in your #6. I can't tell you how many times I search for a business and find a yahoo.com or hotmail.com email account... and immediately discount the business. I realize that I might be missing out on a good business, but it is just an indicator to me that they don't take enough interest in their business. You can easily run your domain email through Gmail with virtually no tech knowledge.