Creating a Business Model that has Good Founder Fit

business-ideaAt close to the age of 40, I have a quality of life and peace of mind that I have never had. My businesses are more profitable then ever and require from me the least amount of effort than ever before.

On the other side of the coin, I am no longer particularly interested in them. I am proud of them and grateful they pay the bills, but I don’t wake up inspired by them. Consequently, I am looking for a change and to start a new business.

I have had time to make many mistakes and a few successes. More importantly, the journey has allowed me to get closer to the truth about my strengths and weaknesses as a business owner. In this post I want to explore how I can use those as criteria to engineer a new business that has a good founder fit, and will keep my interest and enthusiasm

Decisions on Data, Not my Arbitrary Opinion

personality-typesRecently, I took the test at http://16personalities.com/ and the result was INTJ – a small, but wonderful segment, of the population. This test reinforced the futuristic and strategy strengths I scored for in the Gallup strengths finder, the dynamo/mechanic personality profile from http://www.wealthdynamics.com/ and High D/C disc profile.

You could say I like personality tests. You could also say I am a little bit self-obsessed. The truth is I like data. I like making decisions and setting up systems and processes based on data, not my arbitrary opinion.

This is not how I created my first businesses. I was young, inexperienced, intensely motivated to start a business and had little, if any, cash flow. I thought my determination would bring me the luck I needed to be a millionaire before the age of 30. As soon as I got the opportunity to start a business, I jumped at the chance and dedicated my life to it.

I don’t have any regrets and I would probably make all the same decisions if I had my time again, but at the stage of my life now, with a couple decades of experience, things are much different.

Gone is the youthful enthusiasm and  it was replaced with a pragmatic data driven decision-making process that will allow me to create a rigid set of criteria to help me shape a business that is right for me.

In Harmony with My Personality and Desired Lifestyle

strengths-and-weaknessesThese criteria are based on my strengths and weaknesses, and likes and dislikes. Often the former will influence the latter. And it is these personality tests and case studies on the personality types I identify with that have affirmed that I don’t need to change so much as embrace the person I am and leverage my attributes for the most effective outcome.

Strengths

  • Strategic thinking and ability to create processes
  • Management skills, especially remote international workers.
  • Intermediate development, design and writing skills.
  • Introverted, can function effectively for long periods of time on my own.

Weaknesses

  • Introversion makes me drained from dealing with people or groups for long periods.
  • Weak at repetitive tasks
  • Weak at spoken word, better at writing than talking.

Identifying these, I gave myself permission to build a business around my strengths rather than trying to improve my weaknesses.

Criteria for a New Business

Leveraging Introversion

Not spending more that 25% of my time dealing with people and the majority of that correspondence to be via written word.

Strong Founder Fit

Even though I was going to be a reserved leader, I still believed I needed authority in the industry or segment I choose. Hence “A Great Business Idea I Discovered Was Not For Me” did not work out.

No Stock On Hand or Physical Warehouse

I was slightly negotiable on this, but after selling physical products for over 10 years and always having cash tied up in stock and the responsibility of warehousing it. I was hoping to avoid this.

100% Bootstrapped

I could comfortably pull about 20k out of my existing business per year to build something new.  That would equate to roughly a 10k start and then a 5k injection, if needed, every 3 months. It is very important for my peace of mind not to over extend myself with this business; if it can’t grow with that sort of capital then it is not suitable.

Day-to-Day Operations will Run without me Within 12 Months.

I get bored very easily and I know that whatever I build needs to be able to run without me for extended periods of time so I can have a break from it. I think this is also just good practice for any business to make it a saleable entity.

Overcoming Obstacles of This Approach

breaking-barriersA lot of the marketing advice I have heard over the last few years involves extroverted activities like:

  1. Establish yourself as an authority in your niche and demonstrating that through speaking engagements, seminars and podcasts.
  2. Get out amongst your industry and network.
  3. Build relationships via social media.

If these were the only avenues to success, I am dead in the water. It is possible I could learn these things, but even then, I don’t think I would ever be as good as people naturally inclined to these activities, and it would be so draining on me that I could possibly only achieve a few hours of work a day. The rest of my business would fall apart.

In some respects, the business I create here will be an experiment in introverted entrepreneurship. I am going to intentionally minimize all those things I am weak in and instead focus on my strengths.

  1. Establish myself as an authority in my niche and demonstrate that through blogs, eBooks and screen casts
  2. Release free helpful products like WordPress plugins and themes and excel spreadsheets and word document templates
  3. Build relationships by promoting others and making them money.

Admitting Limitations

I do actually believe that the first list of more “extroverted” marketing activities are crucial to a growing business and without doing these will limit any new venture I start significantly.

However, I believe it might just be possible to start a business without doing these “social” things in the beginning.

If I can create some reliable and profitable cash flow that is built on systems that are capable of being replicated and scaled then I will have something concrete to attract an extroverted partner that does have these skills to take the business to the next level.

Stay tuned to see what business I develop…..

What are your strengths and weaknesses? What would be your criteria for starting a business?

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