Understanding why you want to start a business can be a fundamental to knowing what kind of business you want to start and ultimately, your business success. Jay Steinfeld, founder and former CEO of Blinds.com shares his insights.
When Jay added an online aspect to his brick and mortar window coverings business in the late 1990s, it was a bit of an experiment. The internet was brand new and unchartered territory. While he eventually grew that experiment (Blinds.com) into a billion-dollar business that was bought out by Home Depot, there is something to be said about hindsight: wishing you knew the lessons you learned along the way at the beginning of your journey. We’ve partnered with Jy to share a few of those lessons to help you in your entrepreneurial endeavors.
We'll start with addressing why you want to start a business. According to Jay, knowing the reasons why you want to start a business and aligning your choices with those reasons—such as the type of business you start and the type of employees you hire-is one path that can lead to becoming a successful business owner.
While this sounds like a simple and obvious first step to entrepreneurship, knowing your reasons “why” can often be overshadowed by first picking what type of business to create. Regardless of which method you choose, either path can lead to success. However, even if you have already selected the business concept, understanding why you want to start a business can then help either validate your choice or help you pivot.
If you haven’t figured out the reasons why you want to start a business yet, need a reminder or validation, let’s get started.
There are many reasons why people become entrepreneurs and you can have more than one reason. The goal of this exercise is for you to define your motivations. To help you get started, we’ve identified a few common reasons people become entrepreneurs. Do you identify with any of the below?
a. Control: Whether it’s more autonomy in decision-making, income, time, or your tasks, control over your day-to-day and your destiny is a motivating factor.
b. Money: You are looking to replace or create an income stream, improve your financial situation, meet an aggressive financial goal, etc.
c. Champion a Cause: You are passionate about solving a particular challenge impacting society, such as homelessness or pollution.
d. Create a Legacy: You want to do something so big –the effects of which will be felt for generations to come.
e. Carry on the Family Business: You’ve inherited entrepreneurship.
f. Visionary: You have an idea that you want to bring to life or you have identified a solution to a problem.
Once you’ve defined your reasons – whether you have selected from these, or created your own— it’s time to evaluate them.
Are any of your reasons in conflict with each other? Can you reevaluate, eliminate, or prioritize your motivations? If you have a business concept, do your motivations align with your business concept? Do changes need to be made?
How do you define success in relation to your motivations? Are there certain numeric values or a set of criteria that you would like to meet? It might be too early to officially define success criteria, but it’s another factor to consider. If you already know your success criteria, document those as well.
Following these steps will help create a foundation to help guide your decision-making, and as your business grows and you begin to think about building a team, your motivations and metrics can change. One step at time. Now, let’s look at establishing core values.
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Jay Steinfeld founded and was the CEO of Blinds.com, the world’s number one online window covering retailer. Boot-strapped in 1996 for just $3,000 from his Bellaire, Texas, garage, Blinds.com was acquired by The Home Depot in 2014.
Jay remained as its CEO and later joined The Home Depot Online Leadership Team. Jay teaches entrepreneurship at Rice University’s Jones Graduate School of Business. Jay’s book, “Lead from the Core: The 4 Principles for Profit and Prosperity” is a Wall Street Journal Best Seller.
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