Starting a business is hard. Thankfully, there is no shortage of resources providing advice on every detail from formation to exit. In fact, the challenge is not in finding these resources, but in determining which ones provide the most valuable insights.
At Bridgeford, we have over 25 years’ experience in representing entrepreneurs and high-growth companies. This series of blog posts is a curated summation of some of the resources we have found to be most insightful. We hope you find it worth your time.
As always, we believe small businesses and entrepreneurs are a powerful source of positive change. Please contact us to determine how we can support your success.
1. Determine Your ‘Why’ Then Your ‘How’
Starting a business is an adventure with limitless unknowns and twists and turns. It can be scary, lonely, thrilling, satisfying and devastating, and that’s all in one week. Entrepreneurship is not for the faint of heart.
One needs a powerful guiding motivation to survive such an adventure. Something to be a light in times of darkness, but just as importantly, a guiding principal that effectively communicates the enterprise’s reason for being, it’s ‘Why,’ to customers, employees, investors, partners and the rest of the world.
Simon Sinek illustrates the power of “Starting with Why” in his popular TED talk –
It’s a simple, yet powerful idea, that Simon literally illustrates with a marker on a flipchart, that has generated over 50 million views.
From 2008 through 2017, I was the General Counsel of an explosive-growth medical device start-up called EndoChoice. Unlike many medical device companies, EndoChoice was not built around an invention or technology, but rather a mission borne out of a simple observation of the founders – the gastroenterology medical specialty was underserved by the medical device industry. This was easily evidenced by the fragmentation displayed at the major GI conferences as well as the day-to-day “workarounds” that GI physicians, nurses, techs and other staff needed to effectively do their job.
From Day 1 the ‘Why’ of EndoChoice was simple – To Serve the GI Caregiver. This was the foundation on which we built a company that went public on the New York Stock Exchange and was eventually sold to Boston Scientific, a Fortune 500 medical device leader.
We worked to achieve this mission through our ‘How’ of products and services that were – Clever, High-Quality, Innovative and Exceeded expectations (or ‘CHIE’). CHIE became a company standard, to which everything from new products to company policies and employee conduct were held. The ‘CHIE’ products and services that were created from this process were the company’s ‘What.’
Similarly, when starting my law firm, Bridgeford, we were guided by a ‘Why.’ The Bridgeford ‘Why’ is simple – We strive to empower entrepreneurs, who we believe are a powerful force for positive change in the world. This is our calling, our mission, our reason for being. Each of our services are filtered through whether or not they would move this mission forward.
‘How’ do we enable this mission? By providing Practical, Actionable, Clear and Exceptional (‘PACE’) legal guidance to each of our clients. As the General Counsel of a high-growth start-up company I was a consumer of legal services, and found the quality to vary greatly. Not necessarily on the accuracy of the ‘chapter and verse’ of the law – most firms can get this right – but on the ability of translating the letter of the law into how it impacts my business decisions (vs. just being a vehicle for the lawyer to show off their knowledge of legislative history or statutory footnotes). Therefore, we differentiate our services by striving for the ‘PACE’ standard.
Determining and communicating your ‘Why’ is the foundation of your business. Your ‘Why’ will be critical to raising money, attracting high-quality employees, and conveying to yourself (and, most importantly, your spouse), why you are making the sacrifices required to start and grow a business. An authentic ‘Why’ as a guidepost will greatly increase the odds that your entrepreneurial journey will be a success.