From time to time as SmallBizLady, I conduct interviews with experts that could benefit my audience. This is excerpts from my #SmallBizChat interview on Twitter with Mike Michalowicz aka Toilet Paper Entrepreneur @TPEntrepreneur. Mike Michalowicz has a driving passion for entrepreneurialism. Michalowicz wrote The Toilet Paper Entrepreneur with the sole purpose of giving first time entrepreneurs the information they need to grow their concepts into industry leaders. Michalowicz has successfully launched three multimillion-dollar companies. His most recent venture, Obsidian Launch LLC, partners exclusively with first-time entrepreneurs, to launch their ideas into niche industry leaders.
Smallbizlady: Why is this a great time to start a business?
Mike Michalowicz: When the economy slows down, two things happen. Established businesses that are weak close up, and new businesses that were going to start get put on hold. In this economy there is way less competition. If you start now it will be hard (just like it is in a great economy), but you will have the advantage as the economy recovers since you will have momentum going in when others are just starting.
Smallbizlady: What is the first thing someone who wants to start a business needs to consider?
Mike Michalowicz: You MUST consider what you love to do. Your passion. Since if you do your passion, you will likely stick with it during the lean years, and you will naturally excel at it because it is your passion.
Smallbizlady: Where is the funding coming from to start a business right now?
Mike Michalowicz: Funding is coming out of the entrepreneurs own pocket. Even hedge funds are starting to push more and more entrepreneurs to practically go on welfare before the fund adds any money. The great irony is that if you use only your own money, you typically will do better since it forces better decision making and more out of the box thinking.
Smallbizlady: Are there certain industries that make more sense to pursue as a business in this economy?
Mike Michalowicz: Self help always booms in a down economy. Any business that helps others become more self-reliant is a good thing. Another great sector is “micro-luxuries”… these replace the big ticket luxuries like vacations and the new car. A perfect example of a booming micro luxury is alcohol. Instead of going on vacation, people take many “mini-vacations” with a bottle of wine!
Smallbizlady: Do you need a business plan to start a business?
Mike Michalowicz: No. In fact they often are big dust collectors. To start and BUILD a business you need a dynamic planning strategy. Something that adjusts with all the craziness that goes on. The best dynamic planning strategy is the 3-sheet method (which I detail in The Toilet Paper Entrepreneur fully).
Smallbizlady: How do you develop a Unique Selling Position or secret sauce as I like to say?
Mike Michalowicz: The fastest way is by asking “what sucks about my industry?” When you discover the stuff that sucks, your job is to make it “un-suck”. That becomes a very unique selling position, and customers will flock to you.
Smallbizlady: Is it best to start an internet business right now?
Mike Michalowicz: I would argue every business is an internet business. Since we all have a presence on line, and if you don’t you are being left behind. So, hell yes, it is good to have an internet business right now… but it must compliment your passion.
Smallbizlady: Where should you look for your first clients?
Mike Michalowicz: That is a hard one, since every business is different. But the general answer is to go where they already are. For example if you sell to baseball fans, don’t go to the local chamber of commerce… go to the ball park.
Smallbizlady: Can you give three low-cost marketing suggestions for start-up businesses?
Mike Michalowicz: Blogging is amazingly powerful and effective marketing. The key is sticking with it. Another is speaking engagements. If you do it well, you get paid to speak to a group and at the end they are will want to buy from you, too. Collaboration. Find complimentary vendors and make partnering deals. They may have the audience and you have the goods. Can be a win all around.
Smallbizlady: Can you list a few resources that a first time entrepreneur should read before starting a business?
Mike Michalowicz: Definitely read The Toilet Paper Entrepreneur, and I am not just saying that. Also read E-myth to get you in the right mindset to scale the business and read Purple Cow to get to the marketing mindset.
Smallbizlady: How important is social media to a start-up business?
Mike Michalowicz: It is a powerful tool, but it isn’t critical. What is critical is consistently getting the word out. If you only did it through face to face networking, that is in fact ok…. you just need to do a lot of it and build strong relationships. If you just do social networking, make no mistake, you need to do just as much, if not MORE than face to face networking, but you can reach out to a lot more people a lot faster.
Smallbizlady: Can you give suggestions for maintaining work/life balance as an entrepreneur?
Mike Michalowicz: There is no such thing. Being an entrepreneur is your life. And it is impossible to separate the two. So instead of trying to bring balance, I encourage you to blend them. I have my family come to my office, my children will work here at times and my wife too. When it is slow at work, I will head home right away…. Because when work needs me I will head there right away!
If you found this interview helpful, join me on Wednesdays 8-9pm ET for @SmallBizChat on Twitter. Here’s the link for how to participate: https://succeedasyourownboss.com/07/2009/how-to-participate-in-smallbizchat/
For more tips on starting or growing your small business subscribe to Melinda Emerson’s blog at http://www.succeedasyourownboss.com