John Bradberry, the founder of an independent consulting practice, has over 20 years of experience as a business advisor and strategist. He’s the author of Six Secrets to Start-up Success: How To Turn Your Entrepreneurial Passion Into A Thriving Business (AMACOM, March 2011). John was kind enough to agree to an interview, so we recently chatted about his book, his career, and his philosophy on the over-arching truths to starting a business.
John is a great guy—easy going, friendly, and knowledgeable. It’s not surprising that he’s improved the performance of more than a thousand leaders and hundreds of teams over the course of his career. We asked him why he decided to write his book, and he said, “Five years ago I became fascinated with one of my entrepreneurial clients, with what he did. So I had him sit down and asked him to download everything he’d learned about entrepreneurship.” That initial conversation then led to four years of research, and subsequently to the book.
So what did he find on his search for start-up secrets? John says the most valuable take-aways that he eventually narrowed in on were the factors that span industries—the four things that are true for any start-up, be it a restaurant or a tech company. “Some of these might sound overly fundamental, but there are business laws akin to the law of gravity. They’re always in play.” Here are his tips for best dealing with the realities of starting your own business.
John calls the first one “Founder Readiness, or being sure that you get optimal fit between what you do well with what your business needs.” He says you’ve got to be able to fill in the gaps as needed, meaning hiring people who do well what you don’t. John stressed the importance of honesty in starting a business—honesty with both yourself and your team. John said, “The most important component in there is integrity of communication: are you honest with a team about what’s working and what’s not? Or are you in a feel-good bubble where everyone protects egos, so [you] avoid talking about the elephant in the room?”
The second element is what John describes as “the math story.” Which basically means, do your finances stack up? Do you know how to manage funds? A lot of tech specialists, for example, don’t have a finance background. Sometimes, people get blinded by their passion for their idea and ignore the realities of their monetary capabilities. And sometimes, they just don’t have an awareness of what the key components even are to the financial. John says that “knowing where to spend and where to skimp is critical. And that equation isn’t the same for every business.”
John knows his stuff. We’re going to keep you in suspense: check back on Friday for Part II of the interview, where you’ll learn the other two key pieces to any start-up!