Interview with Adam Toren of Small Business, BIG Vision

Can you explain a little bit about your idea of having a “big vision” when starting a new business?

Sure! As we say in the book, for entrepreneurs, vision is what solidifies their resolve when things get tough, and it’s what clarifies exactly why they want to be in business in the first place. No one would argue with the fact that, as a business owner, challenges are bound to come up. Some are small, others are more significant. Without a strong, clear vision of what you want for your company, you’re more likely to be thrown off track by challenges (especially the big ones), and you’re more likely to give up altogether. Having a big vision is about knowing what you want, and knowing that you’ll do whatever it takes to get it.

Should new entrepreneurs chase passion or profits when they’re starting out? Or is there a happy medium?

It’s an interesting question, because you really need both, right? If you aren’t passionate about what you do, it’s going to be difficult to be successful. An entrepreneur needs to pour everything they’ve got into their business, and that will be hard to do for something you don’t have a passion for. On the other hand, you can be as passionate as anything about your business, but if you aren’t able to turn a profit, you won’t last.

For me, I think passion comes before profit. If you truly have a passion for what you’re doing, the profit will come. When someone is really passionate about their work, they aren’t going to let anything get in the way. No obstacle seems too big, no challenge too great. And when that’s the case, you’ll be successful – even if you have to change direction a time or two.

What in your experience is the number one or two startup killers?

From a purely practical standpoint, we’re all familiar with the statistic that says the number one reason for business failure is a lack of capital. But from what I’ve seen, if someone really has what it takes to make it, they can work with a very small budget for quite a while. So the question is – what does it take to make it? And I think there are two qualities that really stand out among successful entrepreneurs. The first is belief – in yourself and in what you’re doing. If you believe deep down that you can do it, and that what you’re offering is worthwhile, that confidence will come across in all you do, and you’ll be less likely to quit.

The second must-have quality is perseverance. You’re bound to run into a lot of challenges as an entrepreneur, and you have to be able to keep going in spite of the difficulties. If you start with belief and add perseverance to push through the obstacles, there’s not much that can stop you!

Should newbie entrepreneurs study business history lest they repeat the same mistakes and to glean some of the “ah ha” moments – or should they blaze their own trail?

I think a little bit of both is necessary. You don’t want to “reinvent the wheel,” but on the other hand, if you have an idea for a better wheel, go for it! It’s a great idea to learn from the experiences others have had, and it’s also important to keep your creativity flowing, which can only come from within. So look to history for the fundamentals, and then use your own ideas and experiences to build on that foundation.

How can a startup entrepreneur cultivate an unwavering sense of confidence in themselves and their business idea?

As I mentioned earlier, a lack of confidence or belief is definitely a startup killer. So you have to have that to make it. The biggest factor in building confidence is ensuring that your worth comes from within. If you’re relying on other people to validate you and your ideas, it will be hard to maintain your confidence. It’s fine to ask others for their advice and opinions, but it will make success very elusive if you have to hear positive feedback from outside to stay motivated.

As for cultivating that kind of confidence, it takes a lot of work if you don’t have it. Reading can help a lot. There are many books that deal with the topic of creating and maintaining confidence. But in the end, it really comes down to making choices on a consistent basis. You have to work at it and decide to only entertain positive, productive thoughts, and only believe what you know inside to be true about yourself. Everyone is really amazing inside, and if we could all just realize that, we could accomplish incredible things.

How can a startup entrepreneur take advantage of outsourcing instead of the expense of payroll?

We actually have a chapter devoted to this topic in Small Business, BIG Vision. Coupled with the internet, outsourcing is one of the greatest innovations to come to small business in decades. It’s now possible to save the time, capital, and headache of hiring and managing employees while still benefiting from the advantages of time leverage. We’re able to maximize our productivity by using virtual assistants and other outsourced workers at a fraction of the cost of hiring employees. For most startup businesses, it’s the only way to go.

As a matter of fact, even as a business grows, there are advantages to keeping as much of their staff outsourced as possible. For example, you don’t have to pay someone full time for a job that fluctuates between a full and part time workload. You pay for the hours you use. Also, if an outsourced worker isn’t doing well, it’s much easier to let them go and find another. For any position that doesn’t require a person to be working at your place of business, outsourcing is an excellent option.

Adam Toren is a Serial Entrepreneur (Co-founded YoungEntrepreneur.com), Mentor, Investor and award winning Co-Author of Kidpreneurs (Basic Principles of Entrepreneurship for Kids). Follow him on Twitter @thebizguy Adam is also co-author of the newly released book Small Business BIG Vision “Lessons on How to Dominate Your Market from Self-Made Entrepreneurs Who Did it Right”