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Question for parents who run their own business

casinoofnycasinoofny 17 replies7 threads Junior Member
My both sons are in computer science. They are working on good summer internships. However one kid and his friend are putting efforts into a starting a business. Do you parents have a suggestion that there is a course you should have taken while you were young? Or a skillset that must be learned. Or any suggestion you think will be good. Thanks
17 replies
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Replies to: Question for parents who run their own business

  • TS0104TS0104 1403 replies31 threads Senior Member
    Skills: Excellent written and communication skills, salesmanship, and basic accounting/bookkeeping.
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  • casinoofnycasinoofny 17 replies7 threads Junior Member
    Thank @TS0104, appreciate your help!
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  • CollegeMamb0CollegeMamb0 81 replies1 threads Junior Member
    Cash is king for small businesses

    Planning for growth and scale (if that is wanted by the owners):
    I know a lot of businesses that are great 1/2 man but cannot get bigger, which limits revenue. This can be due to issues with the business model, processes, financing - and even the ego of the boss who doesn't want to let go of control!
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  • MaineLonghornMaineLonghorn 41988 replies2269 threads Super Moderator
    My husband and I have been in business for 21 years, just the two of us. Yes, we could have made more if we'd grown, but we're perfectly happy working from home and staying small.

    My main advice would be to make sure to be prepared before launching a business. We prepped for about two years. We had a small notebook in which we wrote down every question we could think of. Then we talked to an accountant, an attorney, a liability insurance broker, and other engineers. People, even "competitors," were happy to give us advice. A couple of our competitors even told us they would throw work our way when we got underway, and they did.
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  • dadof4kidsdadof4kids 988 replies87 threads Senior Member
    I wish I had a better computer background because I am my own tech support, but they probably have that covered. :smiley:

    A semester or 2 of accounting would be helpful for anyone trying to run a business. Possibly a semester of Microecon. It is abstract, but helps you understand the language of business. If the school has an entrepreneurship class or something like that it may be helpful, although I would read the course description first.

    Agree on the communication skills, especially for people in the computer science field where communication is not necessarily treated as a priority.
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  • KnowsstuffKnowsstuff 7286 replies34 threads Senior Member
    Customer service and create a niche market for yourself.

    Nothing with get you recognized better and get you referrals then customer service. Especially when your slow. If someone calls or emails get back to them right away. Don't wait till the next day. This will impress someone to no end since they have been waiting days for the other person to get back to them.

    Ask your happy customers for referrals. People that like you want to refer to you. But you have to ask. ("if you know someone else that I can help please give them my email /phone number /card).

    Take the area of interest and create a niche. You become the expert when no one else is going it or like you do.

    Create a social media presence but then keep it up and current.



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  • rickle1rickle1 2597 replies21 threads Senior Member
    Learn what you're good at , stay in that lane, and hire other capabilities around you. Really appreciate your staff.
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  • Bromfield2Bromfield2 3943 replies38 threads Senior Member
    edited July 2
    My husband and two partners started a very successful business. He says their success was based on working hard, being in the right place at the right time (at least recognizing it), and a willingness to take risks.
    edited July 2
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  • GDadwith3moreGDadwith3more 21 replies1 threads Junior Member
    edited July 2
    I always remember a piece of advice that I was given starting out. It was from a carpenter who said he always swept the floor of his workspace at night before leaving. In the morning when customers would arrive they would see his cleanliness and associate it with an attention to detail and pride in his work. I always try to do something along those lines so that customers know that I care and several of those have been mentioned - returning emails promptly, treating the customer well, etc.

    A great accountant to guide that business side is also nice unless that is a skill they already have. I am going on 10 years with my own technical business and really enjoy it. I will never go back to clocking in for someone else (fingers crossed). Good luck to your sons!
    edited July 2
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  • shawbridgeshawbridge 5890 replies54 threads Senior Member
    Venture capitalists distinguish between lifestyle businesses and scalable businesses. The former provide a good living for the owner and maybe a few others. The latter can create substantial economic value by growing and replicating what it does.

    Running a lifestyle business requires attention to costs and accounting. Sales skills help a lot. Negotiation skills. Interpersonal skills. I have one business that would probably be considered a lifestyle business and in addition to cost controls, sales and negotiation, I searched at the beginning for a tax accountant who could create structures that would reduce my taxes. He probably saved me between $10K a year and found a way for me to save up to $200K pretax per year.

    Creating and growing a scalable business requires an emphasis on finding product-market fits, hiring people quickly and motivating them, shooting for growth over cost control, raising capital. I am a co-founder of one of these, but what might be more relevant to the OP's son(s) is my own son's example. He started one tech company in his senior year in college, raised a small bit of money from friends and family and one or two VCs. He was more careful on costs and the business grew but not as fast as he would have liked. They didn't really have the capital to invest in building new technology after the first and second products. The business is still running five or six years later, at basically break-even. Much more of a lifestyle business. He left after the first year to go to business school with a focus on entrepreneurship and acquiring soft skills. He started his second company while finishing business school and recruited the best leader he encountered at business school as CEO (he recognized that he was a better idea creator than CEO). They collectively raised their first round of venture capital before he finished school, raised a second round 18 months later, have 15 employees, have been written about in national and tech industry publications and are working hard to grow. They are definitely focused on growth more than cost control. He has created a sales force and works on managing it. What he learned about marketing and business strategy and sales force management at business school has really helped him (and his partner).

    In short, the mindset and skillset need to be very different depending upon whether they are thinking about a lifestyle business or a scalable one.
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  • politepersonpoliteperson 625 replies4 threads Member
    They might want to check out score.org and perhaps connect with a mentor. It’s an SBA program and the site has some very basic courses and modules on business planning, etc.

    Seems like it would go without saying, but is too often ignored: find a good lawyer and accountant that explain things in ways you understand, and keep those relationships going. Too often I see business owners treat these as afterthoughts.
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  • KnowsstuffKnowsstuff 7286 replies34 threads Senior Member
    They might want to check out score.org and perhaps connect with a mentor. It’s an SBA program and the site has some very basic courses and modules on business planning, etc.

    Seems like it would go without saying, but is too often ignored: find a good lawyer and accountant that explain things in ways you understand, and keep those relationships going. Too often I see business owners treat these as afterthoughts.

    Wow, this brings back memories for me. Yes, go to score. Great idea
    I used them when I applied for my first loan to buy a business. My mentor, VP of Playtex Bras. Hmmm. You might laugh but this was a big company back in the day. Plus I got refused by the first 10 banks since I thought I could just go to a bank and get one since I was a doctor right out of school.. Lol..

    He was absolutely great. He help me write a business plan that actually made sense. Taught me how to interview with the banks VP. It was business lessons I just couldn't get in school. My 11th try and got the loan

    Things are probably online these days so highly suggest this

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  • CollegeMamb0CollegeMamb0 81 replies1 threads Junior Member
    @shawbridge : question - do you think a lifestyle business can be taken into a scalable business? Or is it a decision that needs to be taken up front?

    Yes on the tax accounting!

    You can make a good living on a lifestyle business. Tight cost control and cash management and excellent sales skills are needed. A lot rides on your level of risk appetite too, as well as life stage.

    I realized from Shawbridge's post that my husband did the scalable thing when we were younger and cashed in. He now runs a more lifestyle business which is more stable, but less $$$. I also work for myself.

    Interesting convo - thanks!
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  • KnowsstuffKnowsstuff 7286 replies34 threads Senior Member
    edited July 4
    I keep thinking of stuff but don't listen to others negativity. I have been told more then once that I couldn't. It's usually by people that have no clue. I have been part of things and in the media when others told me that something medical doesn't work. New technology. Well, we are on local and national news and those people are still telling me it doesn't work or won't. I am treating patients with it for 6 months but still people are telling me I should get out. Then, months later when we already have the buzz, they want to find out more and want in. This has happened many times. Now they don't question anymore. Believe in yourself!!! No one else will.

    This also leads into "take chances". Some will work and some won't but you won't know till you try. Many great people failed before achieving success. It's a great way to learn. Like chess, you lose till you figure out how to win. It's a growing process.
    edited July 4
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  • shawbridgeshawbridge 5890 replies54 threads Senior Member
    @CollegeMamb0, it depends. In some cases, like a high-end consulting business, it may generally not lend itself to rapid scaling. But, even if it does, you might have the wrong people in the business if you start as a lifestyle business and decide to scale later. In other cases, you need to move quickly to scale as soon as you find an unmet need in the market that people would be willing to pay for. In the VC world, you need to get in there first and at scale. Then competitors are more likely to stay away or to buy you (often a good thing for the VC). So playing at a small level could kill your chances if someone else sees theh opportunity before you do.

    On the other hand, working in a lifestyle business may help you identify a problem that businesses or people are having and that isn't being solved by existing companies and whose solution is scalable. At that point, you construct a new business (or convert the old business) to address the problem in a way that is easily scalable.
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  • surfcitysurfcity 2743 replies61 threads Senior Member
    A basic accounting course - absolutely! I do the books for my husband’s business and it is often hard to have a conversation about some things because he is not nearly as fluent in numbers as I am. He trusts me, so we can do what we need to do, but if you don’t have anyone savvy with reading an income statement or balance sheet, you really are one step behind.
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  • CollegeMamb0CollegeMamb0 81 replies1 threads Junior Member
    @shawbridge thank you
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