6 Insights From Starting a Small Business

cameron_profilepicture You are not a cog in somebody else’s wheel. I left my safe cubicle job to start a small business with my mentor, a seasoned entrepreneur. These are my six insights so far.

In the last month I have learned more cumulatively than I have in the past 6 months of my professional career. Do you want more control of your life? Start a small business about an interest you love. Now that’s accelerated learning! wrote an article about “Low cost business ideas” which shares Top 100 low cost franchises and resources for success.

 1. One Requirement.

You gotta really dig what you do! Loving your product or service idea is important and I’ll tell you why. This will motivate you through the basics of setting up a company. Getting a lawyer to choose what kind of business fits your needs (i.e., LLC, non-profit, or S company, etc.). Installing payroll, compensation, and taxes, and eventually all the way to installing a website.

Motivation is your greatest capital in the early set up stages.

Between two people like my mentor and me, this process may go a little slow. If you’re like me you want to go-go-go, but I also recognize that formalizing the business will be a valuable investment for the future. In particular finding future investors that shows your business is credible.

Did you know is a useful resource to completing your checklist? Since the U.S. Small Business Association is a government resource, the website provides information and is not trying to sell something.

 2. Know your elevator pitch first.

For those that haven’t heard of an “elevator pitch,” consider the time that an elevator ride takes. Imagine you suddenly meet a super important C-level executive/venture capitalist/angel investor who can take your business to the next level. The time of sharing an elevator ride with them is the only time you have to explain your business and why it matters to them.

So what? Your elevator pitch answers the “So what?” questions. You can always explain any detail to someone that actually cares to know, but at the risk of over explaining and causing confusion. Practicing your elevator pitch first is respectful of people’s time.

3. Highs are highs. Lows are lows.

Every time you use your keyboard, imagine every click and clack sound is really dollar signs going “Cha-ching. Cha-ching.” If you watched someone on a computer working, then you might be tempted to believe they’re not accomplishing much. The reality is they are investing in their company, adding value, and improving what their company can do for them.

That being said, you become culpable. You’re small business holds you accountable. If the company is not making deadlines or is still struggling to make income to cover expenses, then who becomes responsible? You can maybe appreciate how the lows can get very low, but the highs are high!

4. Choose your own uniform.

The costume helps put the actor in character, likewise your dress can affect your demeanor. I used to work in a casual environment where jeans were acceptable, because our call center never met clients face to face. Recently, while starting the small business with my mentor, I decided to dress business casual to instill a positive behavior change. Recently I was given appreciation for how dress can influence your demeanor.

Once I went to an interview in a full suit. I got into my car to travel there and I felt strangled by my tie and inhibited by my tailored pants. “When was the last time I buttoned my shirt’s top button?” I mused grunting into a comfortable position. I settle in my driver seat with a relieved sigh, “I don’t like this job already.”

Neck ties have their place in the professional world, but personally I don’t care for them. I kept imagining the neck tie was a leash to a giant called “Manager” and I’d bark “Sale! Sale! Sale!” Suffice to say, after the interview I grew appreciation for the grey dress slacks with a white collared shirt and a black blazer. Steve Jobs wore a black turtle neck. I wear my own uniform.

5. You never imagined working 12 hour days and, yet, you are not exhausted.

When I worked my hourly wage job through college, I cannot describe how the hours would drag slowly. My heart wasn’t in it, but I needed the job. I would clock out the second I could to be release from an —unbearable— 8 hour work day, and then be too exhausted the rest of the night to accomplish anything. This goes back to why the one requirement is important.

You motivate yourself. So long as you put in your hours, you are not having to punch in or out, or be micromanaged —unless, I guess, you like that structure. Salaried position’s offer autonomy for when you take breaks, lunch, or when you work your shift. I’ve really come to appreciate how autonomy can contribute to stamina.

During these weeks I’ve also discovered my mentor does not turn off. I mean my mentor is always working on some project. Maybe three or more at a time, simply because it’s enjoyable. The only reason my mentor stops working is because he becomes physically unable to continue due to exhaustion or illness.

There’s 40 hours in a week normally, but I never believed anyone could enjoy going beyond that threshold… until my mentor. My days starting the small business, though sometimes tedious, is more enjoyable because it’s all to promote myself; not someone else’s interests.

6. Accepting failures as learning highlights.

Someone once asked me what was a problem I encountered and how did I solve it? However, I had to ponder a long time to answer, because I view conflict, problems, and failures as learning highlights. Some people might be afraid of failure, but I see situations rather differently. This story about a villager illustrates polar thinking.

There once was a villager with a farm. One day a horse ran away from his stable into the forest. All of the villager’s neighbors and friends said, “Isn’t that unfortunate your horse ran away?” The villager answered, “Perhaps.”

The next day the horse returned the farm, but had brought the company of 6 wild stallions into the stables. All of the neighbors and friends said, “Isn’t that fortunate that you’ve acquired so many new horses?” to which the villager replied, “Perhaps.”

The following day the villager was tending to the field when his son breaks his leg. All of the neighbors and friends said, “Isn’t that awful? What bad luck!” The villager responded, “Perhaps.”

When the next day came, the emperor’s soldiers traveled through the village drafting all of the young men off to war. However, the soldiers disqualified the villager’s son because of his broken leg. All of the friends and neighbors agreed, “Isn’t that wonderful? What good fortune!” To which the villager sighed, “Perhaps.”




Cameron McNerney

10 Steps to Build A Website Like a Pro

BIO-Avatar-02-NormalDesigning a new website can feel daunting. You’re excited to finally write about anything until you realize… it can be about “anything.” So you’ve purchased your hosted domain name, now what?

Recognizing that your website will not be “everything to everybody” will help you remain relevant. I recommend 10 steps to build your professional website using as a case study.

STEP 1: Define Your Website Objectives

  • Why does your website exist?
  • Who will see it?
  • What do they get from it?
  • Setting clear goals for your website will get your content published online faster. was designed to build a professional online presence and provide easy access to my portfolio. I wanted to demonstrate my knowledge and skills in communication to potential employers and partners.
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