By Walter Sabo
NEW YORK — “Get fired from your corporate job and start your own business.” That is the advice shared with air talent and radio executives when they are kicked out of corporations; start your own business. Working for yourself is a seductive thought. The challenge is that very few corporate employees know how to embrace the frame of mind and tools of self-employed entrepreneurs.
In 1984 I started SABOmedia. Through most of its history SABOmedia has been a robust, successful enterprise with a truly top list of clients including SiriusXM, PARADE magazine, AMC Theaters and many station groups.
Here are the steps I learned through trial, error, and success that are necessary to build a business. Any business. This article is not about “how to be successful working for yourself” because success is never guaranteed. This article is about the ingredients needed to start any business.
- What business are you in? Answer that question and everything you need for building one will become apparent. A one-word answer is best: syndicator, performer, distributor, consultant, trucker. Select a one word answer. WARNING: once you start your business your brain and your friends will have more ideas — brand extensions. Do not stray from your original path.
- Spending plan. Spreadsheet all of your potential expenses. Then cut it. Then cut it again. Don’t waste time writing a ”budget.” You will need a budget when you have revenue. Now you need a spending plan. Assume no revenue for 18 months. The money you have in the bank is insufficient, you will need more. Ideally you will sell your idea to one client as you start your business. One client at launch is a win.
- Work at work, not at home. Office space is very expensive. Review your friends and contacts and determine if they might have a small office or corner where you could work. Most public libraries have private study rooms you can sign-in for a day. You would then be surrounded by busy people and become part of the flow of ideas. You would not be interrupted with the need to take out the trash. You would keep your thoughts where they belong – generating positive ideas for your business.
- Eventually you will be able to secure your own space. Furnish it with used office furniture. New office furniture is a waste of money. But you can find the impressive desk and big plush chair you have dreamed of for next to nothing. Everything you imagine that you need either you don’t actually need or can find in a “used” warehouse or on Facebook Marketplace. What should you buy “new”? A sensible suit, white blouse/shirt and solid color, very comfortable shoes. YOU, not your office should look like a winner – your office can look charming!
- Cheerleaders. Everyone who has hired you wants to be proven right. All of them. Tell every previous employer exactly what you are doing. Let them have a new reason to brag that they hired you! Thank them for giving you the experience that makes your start-up possible.
- Employees are a bad idea. Until your business is mature and your cashflow predictable, hiring employees is risky and unnecessary. Get the help you need from the gig economy. Freelancers. Engage freelancers who will do what you can’t afford to do personally. Your skills are expensive. Spend the day deploying your skills.
- Accountant. Let a CPA decide which tax forms you need, which method you need, and then pay your taxes.
- Business license. Some cities require a business license. Make sure you are papered up.
- File paper to incorporate your business to protect your assets. There are many types from “Corporation” to “Limited Liability Corporation.”
You have a lawyer friend who can answer which type of corporation is right for you. You will find the forms on LEGAL ZOOM.
- What is success? MOST new businesses fail. Yours doesn’t have to. Before you start, decide when you should stop.
Walter Sabo is the founder of SABOmedia Corp company specializing in building audio content businesses. Clients have included SiriusXM, PARADE magazine, AMC Theaters and radio stations such as WTKS, Orlando “Real Radio”; WISN, Milwaukee; WRKO, Boston; and many others in all formats. He launched HITVIEWS LLC in 2007, the first company that identified and monetized online video influencers. He hosts a live weekly network radio show named “STERLING ON SUNDAY” heard on stations such as WPHT, KMOX, and KDKA-AM. Walter can be reached at email@example.com and he will answer all emails.