Start-up Magic Looks a Lot Like Elbow Grease

A lot of successful business people make starting a business look easy. To an outsider, a grand opening packed with people and continued standing room only every day after the opening may seem like good timing or luck, but make no mistake, before any successful business opens the owner has but in hours and months, and possibly years of hard work.

Sure, luck plays a part. It’s hard to be successful if you open a restaurant the day after the stock market crashes. Setting aside those very, very infrequent issues with timing, let’s look at what it takes to have a successful start-up.

First, of course, there’s the desire to own a business, then there’s a necessary decision on what type of business, in the most general terms. It’s one thing to say you want to be your own boss and quite another thing to understand that being the boss of some businesses won’t necessarily mean you get to call all the shots. Recognizing your own personality quirks and deciding whether you’d rather work alone (where you usually do call all the shots), have a small team of employees (where you call most of the shots and get feedback), or scale to a full-blown enterprise listed on the New York Stock Exchange will go a long way toward narrowing the type of business at the outset.

If you know you’d rather work independently, narrow your focus to craft enterprises…think craft brewers, writers, fly tying specialists, coders, lawyers, or any area where people will pay a premium for well-made and unique items or services. There’s a whole range of independent contractors successfully making a living doing only the amount of work they can personally handle, but if your goal is to run a start-up that will eventually be sold on the NYSE, independent contracting is not the route that will get you there.

To build a high-value start-up you’ll first have to identify a business idea that can scale from local success to regional success to national and possibly international success. This takes both a great idea and a lot of potential customers willing to pay for the benefits the great idea offers.

Once you know and accept your own personal aspirations, you can start looking for business opportunities.