America is the heartland of entrepreneurs and would-be entrepreneurs. Our young people want to start their own business so they can have the kind of life they’ve dreamed of, or to follow that great idea. Many of our corporate executives yearn for the day they can take their acquired knowledge and build a company of their own. I learned that lesson years ago when I realized the only job security you have is the job where you’re the boss. Immensely rewarding. I’m guessing many Americans now unemployed due to COVID are thinking about that pretty seriously about now. But owning your own business also means there is no employer on the top floor to write checks and pay your bills if you’re not being successful at your business. That’s the risk part.

So if you’re thinking about it, and wondering what kind of business you should try, consider this concept from Jim Collins, author of “Good to Great,” after his 5-year study of the characteristics of really great companies. He asked the leaders of those companies and developed as a result the Hedgehog Concept (don’t ask) that focused on the three things that great companies had in common. They were:

  1. What you are deeply passionate about – so you’ll keep going even when the going gets tough, as it will,
  2. What you can be the best in the world at – or at least the best in your market space, and
  3. What drives your economic engine – translated, you can make a lot of money doing it.

And one more thing: If your company needs to raise money to get off the ground, or to get to the next level, or to keep the doors open while your product finds its niche, whose job is that? This would be the part where I tout your fractional CFO as the go-to guy to raise money. But that ain’t it. YOU are the CEO of your company, regardless of its current state, and the people with the money want to see and hear from you. They want to hear first hand your vision, your sense of the market for your product, your impassioned belief that this will fly and fly high. Your CFO had better be able to back up your vision with numbers and solid assumptions behind them, and he/she may even be able to initiate contacts and make introductions as we often do. But that’s your support team. You are the coach and the quarterback and the cheerleading squad. So the #1 job of the CEO of a company that needs money is to raise the money!

Still want to build that great company? So, what are you waiting for?

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