Section One: Prelaunch
Chapter 1: The Pull and the Push
The pull is the overwhelming desire to realize your own business vision, to be in charge of your own destiny. Whereas, the push is the crystallizing moment when your need to start your business becomes greater than the fear of venturing out on your own.
Chapter 2: Distinctive Competence
You will substantially increase your probability of startup success if you build a business in which you have distinctive competence. What special knowledge, exceptional talent, or unique skill can you bring to your business?
Chapter 3: Dynamic Planning
When starting a business you need to organize your thoughts, goals, strategies, and plans so that you can realize your business vision—all while dealing with the nonstop challenges of preparing to launch. I call this active process dynamic planning.
Section Two: Launch and Early Stage
Chapter 4: Entrepreneurial Branding
The difference between traditional corporate branding and entrepreneurial branding is twofold: first, the brand is a highly personal reflection of you and your vision, and second, you must take full responsibility for all facets of the branding process.
Chapter 5: Capital, Cost, and Control
Every business needs capital to start, operate, and grow. You need to determine how much money you need and where you are going to get it. Is it better to use other people’s money or your own money? After exploring and considering the cost and control issues, I came to the conclusion that bootstrapping was best.
Chapter 6: Do It! Do It! Do It!
Put your plans into action. “Do it! Do it! Do it! You can build more wealth and have more fun than a lifetime spent in the corporate world.” It’s time to turn your preorders into contracts, hire superior talent, and invest in growth catalysts.
Chapter 7: A Hard Lesson
Blinded by passion and without a shred of proven competence, I launched a national magazine within 12 months of my first startup. The publication bled red ink for more than three years before we shut it down. This venture demonstrates that passion is not enough; you really need distinctive competence to create a successful business.
Section Three: Growth Stage
Chapter 8: Sales Is a Contact Sport
Like high-performance athletes, we developed a mind-set that we deserved to win every contest. We described our competitive drive by coining the phrase: Sales is a Contact Sport. You can start a business, produce a great product, and offer a superior value proposition, but you need to invest in a professional sales force to ensure your success.
Chapter 9: The Ten Commandments of Startup Profit
From the beginning, we were organized around 10 core profit principles. We factored profit into every business decision that we made. These 10 profit principles get at the nub of how my company, USI, made consistent profits and how they can help you produce sustainable profits as well.
Section Four: Exit
Chapter 10: Realizing Value
With competitive pressure looming on the horizon, we decided it was time to sell the company. As we reviewed the proposals, I began to realize that my small startup had grown into a very valuable business. We could monetize our equity at peak value, and the entire firm could be vaulted into a new, more powerful position. You can take a seat at the negotiating table with a Fortune 100 company and gain the insider’s perspective on how we maximized our valuation.
Chapter 11: Preserving the Secret Sauce
Even though the company that bought us wanted to preserve the secret sauce, I soon realized it was on their terms and under their direction. Selling your business can create a substantial windfall, but it will come at the price of control. You need to think beyond the obvious strategic benefits and visualize the operating realities of your life after the sale.
Epilogue: To Thine Own Self Be True
As I approached the end of my stay-back period, I realized that my first love was entrepreneurship. I just had to step away from the big corporate life and return to my entrepreneurial roots. So I started a new business and continue to use the profit principles in this book as an entrepreneur and angel investor today.
Appendix A: The Startup Roadmap: 21 Steps to Profitability
The Startup Roadmap is a step-by-step guide designed to help you understand the mechanics of starting and running a profitable business. The steps fall into three categories: Proof, Profit, and Potential. First, you need to develop and prove your idea. Second, you have to figure out if you can make a profit. Third, you need to estimate the business’s ultimate potential for success. This manual walks you through the entrepreneurial thought process—the same process I used for starting USI. Following the steps in The Startup Roadmap will improve your probability of success.
Appendix B: The Startup Funding Guide
Every entrepreneur wrestles with the need for startup funding. How do you determine how much capital you really need? What are the essentials of financial modeling and forecasting? What are the costs of capital—both equity and debt? How does valuation influence cost and control? What are the sources of startup funding? Increase your bargaining power by taking the mystery out of the startup funding process.