Tuesday, October 2, 2012

Things Entrepeneurs should not pay for ...

Following my previous post, here are a few things that I don't think entrepreneurs should pay for.

  • Networking
I do not believe that paid networking events are necessary. There are many very good, free networking opportunities, especially in big cities. There are meetups, forums and many avenues to try before one needs to pay for a networking event. It might be worthwhile joining a long term group, but my experience of one-off paid events has always been a poor one.
  
  • Pitching
You should never pay to learn how to pitch, there is a world of information, examples and resources for free out there. You should use your family and friends as soundboards for your pitches. There is absolutely no reason to pay to learn how to pitch.   For that matter, I don't believe you should have to pay to pitch to investors (for example). Investors struggle more to find good opportunties than entrepreneurs struggle to find investment. As an entrepreneur you need to target the right person or people to pitch too and not have someone else organize this for you. 
 
  • Business Plan Writing
You should never pay anyone to write a business plan for you. It is the process of writting a business plan that is important and not the plan. Most sensible people soon realize that the business plan is mostly conjecture and not really a plan at all, at least not one that conforms to reality. Wirte the plan yourself, in so doing you will be learning. Don't pay someone to write it for you. It simply does not make sense to do so ! By the way the endless and boring debate over what should go into a business plan is a waste of time. Depending on the context of who the business plan is going to, it needs to be good enough to get their interest. Don't waste valuable time fretting over what should and should not go into the plan. Should it be a pitch deck, should it be 50 pages, should it be double spaced. Who cares ! There are great books that are short, others that are long, so what ? Great is great ...

  • Simple Websites
Don't pay anyone to develop a simple website, there are many ways of doing this for little or no money. Don't waste your money. You are going to pay way more than you need to and not get what you want. At first use the free stuff out there, does your blog work for purpose, can you use Facebook or similar, is there some free template you can use, is there some cheap template off-the-shelf. Far too many people waste time and money worrying about their initial website. More important is to prove the concept and get the business model behind it solid (ignoring the cases where your entire business is hinged on the web technology in question).

  • Search Engine Optimization (SEO)
Don't pay anyone to do SEO, it's a buzz word and very simple to learn the principles yourself. In fact it is so important that you might as well learn something about it on the job, without relying on someone else. Also, it is not a science, so don't be fooled. Certainly early on, you want to be innovative in promoting your online existence, assuming you are interested in that. Learn how to be creative here and use the tools out that are out there, will put you in a good/better position going forward. 

  • Analytics
Another buzz word. All someone can do with software is interact by clicking or entering data etc. This can easily be measured and the data anayzed. Don't be fooled into paying large sums for something that you can easliy do. Secondly, if you are not careful you land up with stats that you cannot process or make meaning of.