In this episode, more audience questions answered including:
- What advice would you give young entrepreneurs about setting up a business?
- Business entities
- Setting up systems
- At what point do you feel comfortable reaching out to investors? Is there a one size fits all answer?
- Getting your business/venture ready for investors
- Alternative funding options.
- How do you choose between job offers?
- Top factors to consider other than salary.
Have questions about career, entrepreneurship or Caribbean culture or lifestyle?
Also, did you enjoy the show? Please remember to leave a rating and review on iTunes.
Hello friends, welcome to another episode of the Carry on Friends Podcast. This is episode 45 and I’m very excited that you’re listening. Today’s show is going to be another episode of your questions answered. If you want to submit questions for me to read on the show and answer, you could send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org or you could send a text to 347-875-0531. Again, email email@example.com or you can text 347-875-0531. Before I get into the show, please remember to share the love on Twitter and Facebook. If you haven’t already liked us on Facebook, please do so. If you haven’t already given us an honest review and rating on iTunes, please also do so. I really, really appreciate it and thank you for your support.
I also want to mention that I am, along with the podcast, part of the Indie Creative Network which is a platform for brown and black voices in podcasts, and I’m really, really excited to be a part of that phenomenal and diverse team of other podcasters. You could go over to indiecreativenetwork.com and listen and check out other shows. There is a web app, you could literally play an episode from one of the other shows there and you could browse the website. So if you haven’t already done so, check out Indie Creative Network. Also, another very exciting announcement, I am very proud that I will be hosting the Career Forward Workshop on October 29th from 11 to 2 PM at START-UP New York. This workshop will be focusing on leveraging your Caribbean competitive advantage while understanding your corporate culture, your company’s corporate culture rather, and using that to accelerate your career or to help you get over any hurdles that you might have or have experienced in the workplace. Maybe someone has told you, you don’t engage, you don’t socialize as much, or whatever the issue has been, and you’re like “well I do my work, I’m not sure what the problem is”, then this workshop is definitely for you. Or maybe you’re doing great at work and you want to take your career to that next level, this workshop is also for you. It’s all about understanding your competitive advantage as a Caribbean American and leveraging that so you can achieve career success. So that workshop, again, is on October 29th. Tickets are available at careerforwardcaribbean.com. Again, that website is careerforwardcaribbean.com. You could also go on carryonfriends.com. There’ll be information there. I’ll also make sure I put that in the show notes. I’m very excited, looking forward to seeing you there.
Alright, so let’s get into the questions for the show. If this is the first time listening to a “Your Questions Answered” episode, normally questions are either from a career perspective, entrepreneurial perspective or a cultural perspective. Questions are based on whatever guests submit. So if you are interested in submitting a question whether it’s a career, entrepreneur, or a Caribbean cultural related question, please send us an email: firstname.lastname@example.org and you could also text 347-875-0532.
So the first questions I have–I’m actually going to start with the business questions and then do the career questions last. The first question I have is from Maria, and Maria wants to know what advice I would give to young entrepreneurs specifically in terms of setting up a business because there’s a lot to know in order to get started. So Maria, this is actually a very good question. The right start to any business is actually key and I believe that setting up a legal entity is the best and probably the first step that you want to take when you’re doing a business, whether it’s as a sole proprietor or you can go very detailed in advance into a limited liability corporation, a corporation. There’s just so many different legal entities and it also depends on the state you’re in and what type of business you’re starting, because then that affects if you need to have a particular license. Now that’s getting really big in it, but I think the first thing I would say, would be to figure out which legal entity works best for the type of business that you’re having. We actually did an episode on this in great detail, episode 36 with attorney Romola Lucas, who broke down a variety of legal entities. A lot of this, she also mentioned that it depends on your end goal for the company. So you could have one thing in mind when you started, but it’s also great to look ahead because that dictates the type of entity that you should do. So definitely setting up the right legal entity, getting the right paperwork is key because a legal entity could help protect your assets. So if something should ever go wrong and someone wants to sue you, if you’re not operating under a legal entity, your property – if you have property or other assets, can be used to compensate should you lose any form of legal action.
The other thing I would say to young entrepreneurs is – because we tend to make this mistake that we are so excited about this idea and we should just go do it, it’s the importance of having a system. A system could simply be this is how we do it, these are the steps we take to do things. That’s important because as you grow, there’s a couple of things you want to be concerned about. You’re concerned about knowledge drain, brain drain. So if, let’s say that you started a business with a partner and the partner is the only one who knew how to do a certain task, if that partner decides to leave, then your left trying to figure out what this person does. It’s also for your benefit. As you grow, then other people could come and take on the task and you don’t have to necessarily spend a lot of time trying to teach them because you already started a basic step of how to do things.
So what’s a system? I’ll take for instance the podcast, or even, I do the profile series on carryonfriends.com. There’s just a list of things that you are doing. It’s breaking everything out step-by-step, this is what we do, in order to get the podcast published and this is what we do in order to get a profile series published. Every single step is helpful because it keeps you honest. It doesn’t make you feel as overwhelmed, at least for me because I see a list of things to do. If you are as busy as I am, or everyone else is, you have so many things pulling for your attention that this list of things you do in order to accomplish this one thing, allows you to remember all the things you have to do. It lessens your chances or the likelihood of forgetting to do something. I cannot stress enough how important just having some kind of system and workflow is because as you take on more things, it’s just so easy for things to fall through the cracks. It’s also harder to try to put the system in place or document that system because now you really don’t have the time to stop and do something that you perceive to be something very minor and trivial.
I would say those would be my two big things for a young entrepreneur starting out. You want to a) make sure that you have the proper legal entity in place that is suitable for your business and your long-term goals. There are a variety of entities. You could listen to the episode 36 on this. It is so great. Also, the importance of setting up a workflow or a system that documents steps that it takes to complete a particular task or item or activity that is a key to your business. So like I said before, the podcast, the profile series and writing blog posts are keys to success for Carry on Friends, and being able to write or list the different steps that are required and really be granular about them so you don’t forget anything, is helpful. As you grow your business, someone can come in and they could follow this checklist to make sure things get done or know what to delegate. 2) It helps you with brain drain should you be in a business with more than one person, and one person decides to leave and you’re still left running a business, you have an idea of what that person does. You may not have the complete knowledge but you at least have a basic sense of okay, these are the steps they took to get to X. I think that is very critical when you are having a business and you review and update. It also helps in terms of efficiencies because when you see it listed there. You’re like well, do I need to do all these five steps just to get to X? Is there a shorter way to do that? I found myself having to go through that so when you do have those systems in place, a quarterly review of them is very key to make sure it’s fresh, it’s current. Creating the system is one thing, just make sure you’re actually using it because it really, really helps. I’ve been talking with my friends, my accountability partners and they’ve all said the same thing, having a system is really, really key because – I’ll give you an example. The biggest aspect of doing the podcast is editing, and when you think of a task or a project, the final products of this podcast being available to you to listen, whether you’re listening into iTunes or to the website, is dependent on editing, but there are other aspects of creating a final show and a product that’s not necessarily dependent on my final editing, meaning that I can start editing and decide if I’m tired of editing, I could do other aspects of getting the podcast ready. I could work on graphics. I could work on so many other things. That helps keep me honest because a lot of times if I’m doing the editing and it’s taking a long time, I’ll be like all right, I’m done. I don’t want to do anything, but having a list to see that okay, after the editing, I have a ton of stuff to do. So while I might be tired of doing the editing, I can do other things that could still help me meet my deadline and get my editing done. So those are the two key foundation items I think are good for a young entrepreneur that setting up. Of course, this is outside of having that product or service that you’ve researched and you’ve determined is good for you to have to start a business.
The other question comes from WS and the question is: at what point do you feel comfortable reaching out to an investor? Is there a one size fits all answer? The easy part of that is no, there is no one size that fits all. In terms of comfort level of reaching out to an investor, that really depends on you. There’s a few precursory things that we need to look at before we get into the comfort level of reaching out to investors. So when you are talking investors, you’re thinking of getting money or funding. Funding comes in different forms. Investors is one type of funding, but you can also get funding in terms of not necessarily cash, but in kind products or services, capital resources. So this is where you could get people do Indiegogo or all these other different things, GoFundMe. These are different ways that people get funding for their initiative. In terms of looking for investors, there’s a couple things. So if you’re not going the in-kind products or services and you’re not looking for funding from a GoFundMe, Indiegogo, family and friends, or not looking for a bank loan or something to that effect, and you’re looking for people to actually invest or partner with you for your initiative, I know that don’t go this route unless you’ve already invested a significant amount of money into your venture because an investor is going to look at it like if you have not invested in your own company, why do you want my money. So you have to already have invested some money and it has to be a significant amount. You can’t just invest like maybe $500 and expect them to give you $5000 or something like that. You have to show that you’ve invested enough money into the company where this money went. In addition, you have to explain why you need money from them.
So first thing is first, you have to have invested a significant amount of money into your company or your venture. 2) You don’t want to ask for money if there is no traction. Traction simply means that your product, your service or whatever venture that you’re doing is gathering inroads*, it’s making names for itself, you have a lot of early adopters, you have people who are responding to the products or service, they are raving about you. You need to be able to show that within six months of starting, we achieve X, or within a year of starting, we’ve had X users or we’ve had X amount of dollars in sales. You need to be able to show that and show that relative to other competitors if that’s possible, to say that we’re really making some really, really good inroads here and to really grow and take it to the next level. This is why we would use your assistance. It’s also a delicate way where you say we want the money for us to help you grow, but it’s not really about the money, it’s more about the product because you know that you are looking to let the products grow and then partnering with you can help the product or the platform or the venture grow.
Now, how much are you willing to give away to facilitate investors’ money, that is something that only you can dictate. Some people are not comfortable giving away more than 50% of their company. I really couldn’t speak on that aspect of it, but you have to be able to say well this is what I want and be prepared to negotiate because they are going to want to probably have something that you may not think about. They’re not necessarily going to say well this is my offer of what you get for your money. They might say well we don’t want that, we want this. You have to be prepared for that. So investment, while not the first route I know most people take, they try to go in-kind services and products first. They try to do some funding. They try to get free money. Free money meaning they look for funding where they do competitions and prizes before they go down that road of investors, because again, if this is your business, your products, your baby, you don’t always want to give it up and there are a lot of horror stories out there. So while investments are good, consider alternative ways to get funding first and then make sure you have the traction that would be worthy or can attract the investors and you also need to attract a significant amount of money in your own business before you start asking for investors to do the same thing.
The last question I have is a career related question and the question is how do I go about making the choice between two job offers. Without knowing much more, I would say you way job offers not just on money, but a total package. A total package involves the salary amounts; you’re getting X amount of dollars a year, but you also want to factor in benefits, health, medical, dental – what other benefits are included, how many days vacation do you get, when is that available to you, is it available immediately, is it after three months. You also want to look at – because a lot of times we’re like oh yeah, we get three weeks vacation, but are you always going to have three weeks vacation for the next five years? Do you get an incremental week per year? When do you get an increase to four weeks? So you want to look at those. You also want to look at just other benefits. Are you able to negotiate as to, maybe I could get more – maybe you don’t want more money, maybe you’ll take more vacation time as opposed to more money. So those are things you look at.
The other deciding factor I would look at would be the work culture, and this is something we often overlook. So the first thing you think about, “yeah man, it’s paying a lot of money. I get this title and get this amount of vacation days”, but also company culture. Does it fit your style? Do you see yourself in a place working there after a year? It’s often like “yeah man, it’s a job, I could do any job”. You could do any job, but interpersonal interaction is big. It’s huge. At the end of the day, it’s which culture is best suited for your personality and that you like, that encourages you to work better, encourages you to feel like you know what, I can’t say I’m excited about work but I’m looking forward to go to work. That type of thing. That goes beyond the honeymoon period of the first couple months.
I would look at those three things: monetary compensation, other benefits and company culture, would be like three top things that I would look for when deciding between job offers. Other factors people might look into is if the company has multiple locations. What are the possibilities of moving to another location or transferring to another location? It really depends on your industry and what factors are important to you. Possibility for promotion, is there room for growth? There are so many different things to factor into job offers, but those are the things that come to me right off the top of my head.
Alright, so I hope that answers everyone’s questions for this episode. I’m looking forward to hearing more from you. If you have any other questions, please always feel free to text 347 – 875 – 0531. You can choose to only have initials or your full name mentioned in the podcast. You can also email email@example.com. Until next time, walk good.