Leaders Perception Magazine is currently running an interview series called – What Are The Top 5 Mistakes People Make When Starting A New Business?
Today, we had the opportunity to interview Carrie Simpson-Richardson who is a Partner at Richardson & Richardson Consulting.
Interviewee Name: Carrie Simpson-Richardson
Company: Richardson & Richardson Consulting
Carrie Simpson-Richardson’s favourite quote: My mentor used to say this regularly, and it’s “FIFO”. “Fit In, or F Off”
Thank you so much for joining us today! Tell us a little bit about yourself. What is your backstory?
Carrie Simpson-Richardson : I was studying community support at college and working as a kickboxing instructor before I started my first business in 2014, a telemarketing company that supported technology resellers. I started the business because I was pregnant and wasn’t able to keep working as a fitness instructor. I had been successful in sales previously, and thought local companies might hire me to do their cold calling for them. Turns out I was correct! I’ve started four businesses now. Two I’ve sold. One failed. One is just getting ramped up.
In your opinion, what makes your company stand out? Any examples?
Carrie Simpson-Richardson : Richardson & Richardson was founded by two entrepreneurs – myself and my husband. Both of our previous businesses were built around the idea that you could “hand off” the things you found uninteresting or distasteful in your business. We both realized that most of the time, when a company believes they’re struggling in one area, they are actually having a ton of other systemic issues. Most of the time outsourcing a problem is like taking medication before seeing your doctor. We have both supported companies that had no idea how to do the things they outsourced – they didn’t understand their business or their finances or the art of their company (sales, marketing, technology) that they were handing off. We found that companies wanted a magic pill, they made huge investments in that magic pill, and when it turned out it was the wrong pill, the blame was placed on their partners. We truly believe that if you want something done right you have to do it yourself – but you don’t have to do it by yourself – that’s where Richardson & Richardson comes in. Outsourcing has a place, but usually when a company thinks they have a sales problem, they have a service delivery problem as well. Nobody is only doing one thing wrong – and nobody asks for help early enough. We want to stop business owners from buying into “guru” culture. Nobody is coming to save you. There are no quick fixes. You have to fix your own business. It won’t happen overnight. We’re straight up with our clients: this is going to be a ton of work, and it’s going to be worth it.
What are the TOP 5 mistakes people make when starting a new business? Please share advice/examples for all of them.
Carrie Simpson-Richardson : 1. Not engaging professional support early enough. When starting a business, people try to cut costs by doing things like trying to find free things online – like employment contracts, or HR manuals, or service delivery contracts. Things vary wildly from state to state. Unless you’re a lawyer, invest in legal support from the very beginning. My first business I used an online template for incorporation. I paid a lawyer a ton to undo that – I set it up incorrectly, and that impacted my taxes for years to come. Now, I read every contract, all terms of service for anything I’m buying – and if I don’t understand them, I have my lawyer read them and explain them to me.
2. Not understanding the value of your own time. In one of my businesses, we bought online lists to fill our telemarketing funnel. Often, business owners will spend hours building these prospecting lists from online data sources, cutting and pasting and scraping information into spreadsheets. If I spend ten hours building a “free” list, I lost ten hours that I could have used for business development or service delivery. Or I could have spent that time with my children. If you charge 300 dollars an hour, and it costs 15 dollars an hour to do a task, are you saving money by doing it? No. You’re losing billable time you’ll never get back. Find your highest and best use of your time. Nothing is free – you’re trading something for every “free” activity you do for your business.
3. Not creating an active outbound sales and marketing strategy. Referrals are flattering, but they’re not a business development strategy. Just because you’re growing through word of mouth right now doesn’t mean you’ll continue to do so. Active business development through prospecting, networking and other sales and marketing activities will make sure you aren’t living a feast and famine lifestyle.
4. Protecting your ideas and offerings as if they were so unique and special that everyone would want to steal them. Spend more time in talking to your competitors. They made mistakes you can avoid. Most of the time, your competitors are the only people who truly understand what running your particular business is like. There may be a ton of world changing ideas – and maybe yours is one of them – but there are not a lot of companies that have world changing execution. If your ideas aren’t worth stealing, they’re probably not great ideas to begin with. You can cooperate with your competitors. My partner talks about this all the time. Companies grow out of their clients, and often as they mature they realize the client base they have is no longer the client base they want. If you’re talking to companies that have reached some success, they may be ready to hand off some of the clients they no longer want to support to a trusted entity. One of my competitors bought my company. He was always willing to answer questions when I got stuck on something – in an interesting way he was able to steer me towards creating the business he wanted to buy!
5. Outsourcing tasks before you understand them. Before I hire someone to do something for my business, I want to understand what I’m spending my money on, what best case scenario results look like, and what worst case scenario is, too. For example, I wanted to outsource managing social media for my business. I spent too much time online, and I really wasn’t sure it was giving me the results I wanted for the time I was investing in it. I took a free course on digital marketing, then I tested and tracked things for a few months. Instead of outsourcing my social media, I eliminated all but one platform – I was only getting leads from one place. Managing one platform was simple. I could have wasted thousands of dollars a month trying to improve my social media performance on platforms where nobody was engaging with us. Once I understood my metrics, I could ask intelligent questions about the plan the outsourced firm suggested. I could also do math. They were charging thousands of dollars to manage an entry level asset for me, and there were no clear deliverables or guarantees. Would I pay an astronomical sum to a marketing agency to have a college student post online for me three times a day after investing some time in learning about social media? No.
Leaders Perception magaizne would like to thank Carrie Simpson-Richardson for the time dedicated to completing this interview and sharing their valuable insights with our readers!
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