Starting a business can be a costly exercise.
How do you decide what’s worth spending your (potentially) limited funds on, and what’s simply a waste of money?
Recently I found an excellent infographic from JW Surety Bonds that attempts to answer this question.
And while they do a fantastic job of answering it, there are a couple of areas I disagree with, and one glaring omission.
Read on to discover where I agree with JW Surety Bonds, and what I think is the missing piece every business owner should invest in early, and often.
You’ll also find some very useful, and carefully selected videos in each section to add further clarification and advice on each major point.
Quick Start Post Menu
- Market Research
- Tools & Technology
- Building A Solid Team
- The Best Accountant You Can Afford
- Customer Service
- Legal Advice
- Tax Professionals
- The One, Huge, Glaring Omission
- Download The Full Infographic
1. Market Research
Market research is the non-sexy essential step that most business owners “accidentally” forget to complete.
In general, market research can be rather boring. Personally, I find it fascinating, and wildly useful.
One common reason for procrastinating on, or outright avoiding doing the research, is a lack of clarity on what you want to offer, and how you plan to deliver it.
If that’s you, you might find this blog post on The Easiest Way To Start A Side Business a great place to start.
After you’ve read that blog post, and you’re clear on the type of business you’re starting, check out this video from Ramit Sethi on his excellent approach to market research for new products:
2. Tools & Technology
Having the right tools for your business is absolutely essential.
Over the last decade and a half, I’ve tried and tested practically every tool and system designed for small businesses out there.
And the one that stands head and shoulders above them all is Ontraport.
Ontraport is the all-in-one marketing automation suite we use to run our businesses.
Check out the short video below for a simple overview of how Ontraport works in 3 easy steps…
3. Building A Solid Team
This one is interesting.
Whilst it’s true that you need a team to scale, you DON’T need a team to start.
I ran my business successfully for a decade as a “one-man-band”, and there’s no reason why you can’t do the same.
However, when it’s time to build a team, there are some important factors to take into consideration.
In the video below you’ll learn what Google discovered about the perfect recipe for building a coherent, effective team.
4. The Best Accountant You Can Afford
Make no mistake — the right accountant is an investment, not an expense.
Having tried multiple accountants over the past two decades in business, I wouldn’t trade my current accountant for anything.
The video below shares ten awesome questions you should be asking your accountant.
After you watch it, scroll a little further for my top criteria to help you choose an accountant for your business.
How To Choose An Accountant
Through trial and error, I’ve identified seven things you need in a business accountant.
- They will take the time to meet with you regularly.
- They can answer your questions in plain English.
- They are proactive, and will keep you informed of your obligations before they fall due.
- They are easy to reach and communicate with.
- They are experts in legal tax minimisation and asset protection strategies.
- They are happy to meet and work with your other advisors.
- They take your overall goals into consideration, and help with both big picture, longer-term strategy, and short term tactical needs to make your vision a reality.
What is branding?
This is one of the most confusing (and argued) questions for business owners.
According to branding guru Marty Neumeier, “Your brand isn’t what you say it is. It’s what they say it is.”
- A brand is not a logo.
- A brand is not a product.
- A brand is not a promise.
- A brand is not the sum of all the impressions it makes on an audience.
A brand is a result – it’s a person’s gut feeling about a product, service or company.
It’s in their heads and in their hearts.
A brand is your reputation.
Marty Neumeier started as a graphic designer and copywriter in the 1970s.
In 1984, when the Macintosh launched, he moved to Silicon Valley to help companies like Apple, Netscape, HP, Adobe, and Google build their brands.
Check out his 4 minute crash-course in branding…
Marketing is like oxygen for your business.
Without it, your business will die.
The purpose of marketing is to get eyeballs on your offers, and to create desire to buy.
In the online world, “getting eyeballs on your offers” means driving traffic to your website.
And there are three very effective ways to do that (which I cover in detail in the Lifestyle Entrepreneur Accelerator Program Case-Study Group).
To start with, I highly recommend you set-up your business blog, to use as your central marketing and lead capture hub. This blog post will show you how…
If you’re new to marketing, and wondering why it’s so important, this short interview with Gary Vaynerchuck gives an excellent overview:
And of course — like most things in business — if you fail to plan, you’re planning to fail. Which is why I’ve created the One-Page Million Dollar Marketing Plan to help simplify the process for you, without the need for the onerous, forty-page plans recommended in most marketing books.
You can download it below…
7. Customer Service
When you consider the amount of time, effort, and money you’ll invest to get customers in your business, it makes only sense that good customer service is an essential part of your business strategy.
And who better to borrow a few ideas from, than the master of outstanding customer experiences, Sir Richard Branson.
Networking, when done right, is one of the biggest shortcuts you’ll ever take in your business journey.
I consider this strategy so essential, I’m currently writing a book on my unique approach to forming mutually-beneficial, high-level relationships in business.
In the meantime, you can pick up a few hot tips from the guys at Charisma on Command, to get you started on the right foot.
9. Legal Advice
Ever heard the term “a legal minefield”?
Well, that sums up business perfectly.
There are so many ways to screw up, you simply cannot afford to not (at the very least) know a good business lawyer.
In this video, Landon Ray, CEO of Ontraport, interviews lawyer William Honaker.
For over 30 years, William Honaker has been helping entrepreneurs with intellectual property and legal matters.
In this video, he explains the three steps of managing intellectual property for small business owners: recognizing its importance, collecting it, and protecting it regularly.
He also touches on international legal strategies, the benefits of public speaking, and the rapid nature of business in a tech-driven era.
Business insurance is one area where it pays to do your research.
Not all insurance policies are created equal.
This short video explains the major types of insurance you should consider when getting started.
11. Tax Professionals
Why hire a tax professional, when you already have an accountant?
The short answer is — if your accountant handles your tax, you don’t need another tax professional.
One additional provider to have on your team though is a solid bookkeeper.
Accountants may offer bookkeeping, but many don’t.
And doing it yourself is a ticket to tax trouble.
Your bookkeeper and accountant should ideally work together, or at least in consultation with each other.
When it comes to hiring a bookkeeper, I’m going to save you a LOT of headaches right now by suggesting that you hire a bookkeeper trained in Mike Michalowicz’ Profit First system.
Profit First is essentially the business version of “pay yourself first” (but there’s slightly more to it than that).
Watch Mike walk you through why the Profit First system is one of the smartest choices you’ll make in your business, in this short video…
12. The One, Huge, Glaring Omission
The inspiration for this post was the infographic you’ll find at the bottom of the page.
However, there is one massively important thing that the infographic creators left out, and that is:
If you want to be successful in business, you should hire a coach with a proven track record.
My wife Alex and I have run a successful coaching and training company for over a decade, and have helped thousands of others to build the life and business of their dreams.
Here’s a small selection of some of the results we’ve achieved in our own life and businesses…
- Alex and I have launched four successful companies together… then sold two of them.
- We’ve been married now for eleven years and neither of us have had a full-time job for the last ten of those eleven years!… Plus – We’re still happily married, with two gorgeous kids.
- Because our business is “portable” (we can work from anywhere in the world as long as we have our laptops), we were able to take our kids to live and travel around Vietnam for three months at the end of 2016.
- Between us we’ve won four all expenses paid trips to Thailand by winning very competitive business competitions.
- Every three months we take our kids and travel the world so they can learn about other cultures first-hand, and create life-changing experiences and memories together.
- We’ve won multiple entrepreneurship awards.
- Having a business that gives us more free time than it takes away, I’ve been able to achieve my black belt in freestyle Karate, and I’m working on two more black belts right now.
- We’re both published authors for our international smash-hit books, How To Be A Ballet Dancer by Alex… and 7 Minute Mindset by Nick… which we’ve used as “Authority Marketing Platforms” to further grow our brand and “Go-To Expert” status in our industries.
- With the freedom to work AND travel, we’ve been able to meet most (almost all) of our heroes… including Tim Ferriss (Author, “Four Hour Work Week”), Neil Strauss (Author, “The Game” and “The Truth”), Penn & Teller (World-Famous Magicians), Misty Copeland (Famous Ballerina)… and many more.
- I am an in-demand international speaker… and regularly travel the world to speak at events and deliver highly-paid corporate trainings.
- Alex is a former professional ballerina from France (where she’s still famous in the dance world)… which allowed us to massively grow our dance school, and then sell it.
- I regularly travel to the USA for live speaking gigs and to attend business conferences… and I also get to train Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu with world-champions, UFC champions, and Navy Seals.
- Our businesses have also made us 100% debt-free… we work when we want to (from home)… and we spend as much time as we want with our wonderful kids.
- …and so much more!
If you’d like to build a Lifestyle Business of your own, that provides time and cashflow, click here to have a quick chat in Facebook messenger, to see if or how I can help you start (or scale) your business.
Nick “Lifestyle Business” Cownie.
P.S. Sick of the income rollercoaster?
The fastest way to master your mindset & charge what you’re worth
— Download my book for free, 7 Minute Mindset
The fastest way to get free, daily coaching from me
— Join our free Freedom Business Community Facebook group
The fastest way to launch your own online course or coaching program
— Talk with my team for free to brainstorm your Recurring Income Sales Engine