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September 27, 2013

'Big Joe' Clark: Hanging your shingle and starting your own company

Cleaning out the garage or old storage rooms can bring up forgotten memories and emotions. Our team recently found pictures from the very beginning of my career in the financial services industry. This week marks 25 years from the day that I left corporate America and started out as a young entrepreneur. Though I wouldn't have it any other way, let me use this article to give you some things that I might have done a little differently knowing what I do today.

The first is one I certainly would not change: Be passionate about what you’re doing, know why you want to do it and know where you want to wind up. In all fairness, I had no "Plan B" when I began. Notice I said, "know where you want to wind up," and that is very different than "knowing all the roads you will travel along the way to get there."

I have seen very detailed business plans never make it out the door, thus accomplishing nothing. I prefer seeing young people have an outline that covers the purpose and rationale for what they are trying to accomplish. Outline your skills and those that are necessary to complete the task. List your financial assets and what is required to meet the objectives. Spell out your timeline to the best of your ability. Think who, what, why, when, where and how and make sure you can discuss it because now comes the hard part.

Find five people you know and respect and who are willing to listen. They don't have to be the best business people, but they do have to be able to challenge you for all you are worth. Tell them your ideas and let them tear them apart. This may seem tough but it will be nowhere near as tough as building your business.

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