Top 10 Tips for Successful Startup Businesses

by Jonathan Longnecker

We’re coming up on our second year of calling 47m our full time job so I thought I’d share some things we’ve learned along the way. I’m attempting to shorten my Top 10 lists…not by number but by content. Otherwise it wouldn’t be a Top 10 list now would it? So without further ado, the slimmer Top 10!

1. Don’t Go in Debt

Ten years ago you needed a detailed business plan and a hefty loan from a bank to start a business. But web based businesses have changed everything. You don’t need a office or a fancy new desk. You don’t need a company car. You really don’t need much of anything except a computer and some software. I’m happy to say that we slogged it out for two years working full time jobs and doing 47m on the side until we built up enough cash inflow to make it our day jobs. Not only does it make you more responsible, but in this economy debt is like poison. Get rid of it now!

2. Wait for the right time

It’s really hard to know when it’s time to make the jump to full time. There’s no hard or fast rule here, but I’d recommend saving up a good chunk of money before you do. Resist the urge to jump the gun and just be level headed about it.

3. Bust it

Yeah, we spent a lot of long nights and weekends getting started, but it doesn’t stop there. Statistics say less than half of all small businesses last more than 4 years. Just because you’ve made it full time doesn’t mean it’s over. Keep pushing. Everyday.

4. Be honest

Do you best to be up front and honest with all your clients. I don’t really need to explain this. Don’t lie!

5. Invest in the future

Make some time every week to learn something new or increase you skill set. You won’t grow if you keep doing the same thing over and over again. It’s hard when you’ve got bills to pay, but it’s important.

6. Make time for the big picture

Living in code or design land day in and day out makes it hard to remember your larger goals. Have a secret project you’re working on? A monetary goal? You have to check up on that stuff regularly or else you’ll find yourself a year down the road with nothing accomplished.

7. Be respectful

I think being a decent human being is very important. Value people’s time and what they do. Don’t threaten with lawsuits over stupid things. Talk about issues with maturity and level-headedness. In short, treat others the way you would want to be treated. Don’t cause unnecessary drama in other’s lives. And run away from the people or clients that do.

8. Be available

Try to respond to clients and potential clients quickly; even if it’s a short note to say you’re busy and you’ll get to them soon. You don’t have to check your email every 10 minutes, but make your clients feel valued is important.

9. Invest in the community

Life on an island is no fun! Find some outlets like Twitter or start a blog and give back to the community. Tell what you’ve learned or just entertain them. Show them you’re a real person, not a faceless business.

10. Enjoy it

Working for yourself is completely awesome. Even if things get tough, remember how lucky you are to be living your dream everyday. Don’t take it for granted!

Have more tips? Add to the list in the comments below.

December 04, 2008

Business, Personal


  1. I guess networking would fall under investing in the community, great post.

  2. You are my Hero!

  3. No Troy, you are my hero! Where have you been?

  4. Great list… and very true. I made the jump myself this past year and it definitely has it’s ups and downs. Staying levelheaded is so important! I wrote a post in blog last month talking about not cutting people off… The person your cutting off could be a client or potential client! So be honest and decent doesn’t just stay within the office… It’s everyday, everywhere!

  5. This is some of the best advice I’ve read, I just came across this site (stupid footers never stay in place) and seen this.  Been doing my thing on the side, waiting for when the time is right!  Thanks!

  6. Hey Dustin, thanks for the kind words! Glad we could help.

  7. Great Advice and an awesome write up.  thanks

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