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Tag Archives: business

Start before the sun comes up

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Wanting to start a new business, a blog, or a new exercise routine? The best time to get started is before the sun comes up.

Chances are you are a father, a mother, or are working a full time job. Starting a new business, blog, exercise routine, or anything else new will be difficult to do during normal waking hours. If you really want to make your dream become reality, you’re going to have to start getting into the disciplined habit of waking up early.

My alarm goes off at 5 a.m. on most mornings. That is my queue to strap on my running shoes and hit the street, or spend time writing on this blog. I used to tell myself I would rather not wake up that early, so I would just write later today and run during the evening. That never happened, so I had to make a change. If I wanted to be more serious about my race training, and more serious about writing on my blog I was going to have to wake up before the sun comes up – every day.

Why start before the sun comes up? Why not just start in the evening when I’m still awake? The reason is simple. If you haven’t started yet there is a reason. So, get going, tell Siri right now, “wake me up at 5 a.m.”

You don’t have to be an expert to start a business

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You don’t have to be an expert in a given industry to start a business. When Chris and I started Bearded Brothers, A Wholesome Snackfood Company, neither one of us had any experience in the food manufacturing industry. Heck, the closest job in food either of us had was the one I had working behind a sea food counter in High School at Albertsons: which ironically became our first commercial kitchen. We worked out of a re-purposed Albertson’s building and our kitchen space was the old butcher block/sea food counter.

Anyway, back to my point. Lack of experience did not stop us from pursuing bringing our organic, raw, vegan, gluten & soy free energy bars to market. We believed we had a superior product that people wanted, and we busted our butts to figure out all the laws and regulations in order to get our business off the ground. We literally started knowing nothing about this!

We learned as we grew. Four years later, we are still learning, and our business is still growing and thriving. Just because you feel you can’t do something because you lack the experience doesn’t mean it can’t happen. You just have to make it happen.

We azig_ziglar_help_enough (1)lso relied on the generosity of others. We called other established business in the food industry and asked them questions. There really wasn’t anybody that I can remember that turned down spending a few minutes with us to ask some questions to help get our business off the ground. We are now returning the favor offering other small business the same advice we were given.

I love the Zig Zgilar quote, “You can have everything you want I life if you will just help enough people get what they want.” It is now a motto I put into practice because others did the same for me.

Overcome your fears and stop believing lies

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The biggest thing you can do to overcome your fear of starting a business is to stop believing the lies. The lie that a new venture is less secure than your current 9-5 desk job, the lie that the new venture will never succeed, the lie that you don’t have what it takes.

Step out in faith, take a risk (not a risk taker by nature?, neither was I), but make a plan! Read books like Start and Quitter by John Acuff to inspire you to action. They key is to start NOW. Don’t wait for the right time, it will never come.

Make a plan, and work your plan….death by 1,000 cuts is the name of the game. Overnight success never happens, and startups don’t happen overnight either. Even though startups seem like a dime a dozen, they were all born out of an idea that was incubated over time.

So, stop believing that starting a business is out of reach, or too risky. With a little bit of planning and a leap of faith, your dreams can become reality.

Innovation solves problems and grows businesses

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One of the most innovative products I have seen lately is Bibliotheca by Adam Lewis Greene. You may have seen his highly successful Kickstarter project come up in your Facebook news feed, or mentioned on sites like Huffington Post and Fast Company Design.

Greene saw a problem: the Bible can often be seen as boring and difficult to read. He thought, what if it could be like any other piece of literature, well designed, and easy to read. So, Greene broke down the Bible into four volumes, eliminated superfluous notes, cross reference, verse numbers and chapter numbers to create an elegant looking, easy to read book.

His funding goal on Kickstarter was quickly met, and reached over one million by the time the project was over. Greene sought to do something no Bible publisher has ever dreamed of, or at least had the audacity to do. He ignored what has historically been practiced by Bible publishers.

Greene, sought to meet and fill his own needs for a more pleasurable Bible reading experience, and in doing so was able to meet the needs of nearly 15,000 project backers. I would be willing to bet that never once did Greene think, this will never work.  He decided to take a risk and innovate in a way that has never been done before, and he clearly created a winner.

Entrepreneurs should learn a valuable lesson from the Bibliotheca project. Innovation should be the result of your own needs and passions being fleshed out. Market validation, price point, and creating a high ROI should be secondary. Products and projects will succeed, regardless of their price as long as they are a direct result of innovation, a real problem being solved.

Most investors are looking for a quick exit. They want fast and furious market growth, but often times quality and truly innovative products are sacrificed because of the perceived need for mass appeal and competitive price points. I would venture to say that truly innovative products are competitive enough on their own that price is not a barrier to growth. Innovative products meet real needs, so price is rarely an issue of concern.

I believe that in order for entrepreneurs to create truly innovative products, they need to stop thinking about everything that stifles true innovation and simply focus on filling a need, and more than likely that need will be your own, which is also likely to be the need of somebody else.

My three favorite Austin based companies

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Kammok LogoIf you are looking to start a business, Austin is a great place to launch from. The city is full of entrepreneurs. Even though a lot of those new businesses are tech related, there are also several amazing consumer packaged good companies started out of Austin, including my own company, Bearded Brothers.

Tech companies are a dime a dozen, but entrepreneurs producing tangible products are far fewer, so if you plan on starting a business for the world’s next greatest widget then Austin, Texas is a great place to launch from. They city is full of like minded entrepreneurs, which makes for a great pool of friends to draw from for support and encouragement.

Since starting Bearded Brothers I have meet the owners of several other companies. All of them have interesting and inspiring stories. Below is a list of my three favorite Austin based companies in the consumer packaged goods market.

Kammok makes the most comfortable and easy to use hammock you will ever lay in. Prior to meeting these guys and trying out their product I could care less about hammocks, but now I love my Kammok.

Kammok is a 1% For The Planet member, and they donate their 1% of total sales to CTC International, as well as helping children receive life saving treatments through Malaria No More. Their mission is to Equip and Inspire for Life Changing Adventure.

The world’s first, and best Small Personal Item Belt. Developed by Austin local Kim Overton to solve the problem of not having a good place to store keys while running. After her, “there has to be a better way” epiphany, she created the first SPIbelt: a small no bounce waist belt to hold small personal items such as keys and cell phones.

Her company has strong local roots. In the early days of her company she provided jobs to people in the local community that allowed them to work from home producing the belts. Kim has since moved her production process to a warehouse close to downtown, but still provides jobs for people in the local community.

Chameleon Cold-Brew
This is hands down the best cold brew coffee on the super market shelves. Started by the owners of Bennu Coffee as a side project, this small company is taking off like wild fire, and now has its product on the shelves of Target in the Southwest Region. While Chameleon is still fairly small, they are available across the nation in select stores.

I have had the pleasure to meet both of the owners, and both are very generous and always willing to talk business and offer advice. Chameleon and Bearded Brothers actually recently attended Expo West in Anaheim California and were just two both spaces down from each other!

There are many other amazing companies in Austin, making it an excellent place to start a business. The community here is very supportive of local products, making it easier to get your business off the ground by getting support from the people you live closest to.

Although you will find the cost of living in Austin quite a bit higher than a lot of places, the trade off is worth it for the community of like-minded entrepreneurs you will have access to. If you are thinking of starting a consumer packaged goods business, Austin is the place!