As part of OBJ’s recent coverage of Small Business Week, reporter Adam Feibel asked local entrepreneurs what advice they had for others looking to take the leap and launch their own companies.
Here is what The Better Software Company’s founder and CEO, Steve Cody, had to say.
Find a problem
It’s advice heard many times before, but it never becomes less true. As a serial entrepreneur who previously ran multiple successful companies –including the largest window-washing company in Ottawa, followed by a scaffolding business, a Halloween specialty store and a party rentals venture, among others – Mr. Cody kept running into a familiar problem: the lack of an efficient, universal tool to help with the everyday tasks of managing a business, such as invoicing, scheduling and marketing. He created software to solve that problem and thought that if his many former businesses would have paid for that solution, others would do the same.
Make sure people will pay to solve that problem
It’s not enough just to identify a problem and fix it. What matters is whether that problem is dire enough, and your solution unique and effective enough, that people will give you their money to make it happen. “A lot of businesses are created where they solve a problem, but people aren’t willing to pay to solve the problem,” says Mr. Cody.
Work your ass off
It will take a lot of work and there will be a lot of tough days before a small business gets off the ground. But once you’ve ticked off those first two boxes, it’ll just take lots of hard work for it to pay off. “I don’t know that that changes for 99 per cent of the businesses I’ve done,” he says.
When he got into franchising, Mr. Cody says, he really started to see businesses succeeding and failing, and noticed why.“Passion is extremely important because you always have hard days, and the only thing that can get you out of bed is passion,” he says. “If you don’t even enjoy what you do and then you get into trouble on top of that, it’s kind of hard to succeed.”