How Not To Start A Business — Even If You Are A Woman

Here are the “tools” More magazine provided to help its readers get started as entrepreneurs:

* Consult with an attorney to make sure you set up the right legal structure.

* Check with your municipal authority to make sure “they permit a venture like yours to work out of the home.”

* Buy business insurance and “talk to an accountant or attorney” to make sure you’re not missing anything.

* Get a toll-free phone number (to give the impression that your business is much bigger than it is).

* Invest in great business cards and letterhead stationery.

I can’t imagine worse advice. Every one of the above-cited suggestions involves (a) spending money and (b) making your business life complicated. None has anything to do with creating cash flow — by selling the product. Readers of More magazine, beware: You won’t get your business off the ground this way.

Try these suggestions instead:

* Don’t do anything you don’t have to do until you have made the first sale. Setting up a corporation, buying insurance, and getting your local status secured is a crazy waste of time for a start-up operator. Prove to yourself and anyone who might want to invest in you that your brilliant idea works. Do that by making a sale!

* After you have made the first sale, make another one. And then another one. Don’t print business cards. Don’t worry about stationery. Just keep making sales. You need the cash for the next step.

* Once you are confident you can make a sale and have proven that your idea is profitable (i.e., you get paid more than you spent), you have to design a marketing program so you can roll out the selling process indefinitely. This involves advertising. Direct-response advertising is best. Base your plan on the success of someone else. Don’t reinvent the wheel.

* Don’t worry about notifying regulators and government agencies that you are going to start a business. All they want to do is control and monitor you. Since your business isn’t going yet … since it has no cash flow … it’s not really a business. There will be plenty of time to get yourself hamstrung with regulations later. Follow the law, but don’t be foolish.

* Buy business cards and/or stationery only if and when you actually need them. This time may never come. I run and/or own at least a half-dozen multimillion-dollar businesses and have neither a card nor stationery for any of them.

[Ed. Note.  Mark Morgan Ford was the creator of Early To Rise. In 2011, Mark retired from ETR and now writes the Palm Beach Letter. His advice, in our opinion, continues to get better and better with every essay, particularly in the controversial ones we have shared today. We encourage you to read everything you can that has been written by Mark.]