STARTING A NEW BUSINESS
LLOYD CAMBRIDGE, FOUNDER OF PROGRESS PLAYBOOK
- 6 clients in 6 months
- $150,000+ first year in business
- Started a entrepreneurship learning platform
- Total startup cost: $379
why I started progress playbook
As a kid growing up in Brooklyn I always wanted to start a company but lacked the confidence, resources and support to make it happen. Despite that, I never stopped dreaming. I wound up spending my career supporting entrepreneurs as a banker, teacher and public servant, but knew that I could do more, so I started Progress Playbook, a learning platform for entrepreneurs. We believe that anyone who has a dream to build a business that will benefit the world should have step-by-step support along their journey.
STep 1: build AN AUDIENCE
I started building my audience years before I launched Progress Playbook. I built relationships with entrepreneurs, service providers and business organizations by organizing a meetup group, sending out business newsletters using constant contact. teaching business classes and finding ways to help people. All these activities and others helped me to build an audience with thousands of people and a personal brand before I launched.
Step2: Create a business Name, SOCIAL accounts, logo and website
Once I had my business idea, I had to come up with a business name. After weeks of ideas, I landed on Progress Playbook, becuase it was catchy and represented the entrepreneurship journey of making continuous progress. I purchased the domain name on Hostmonster and locked down the name on facebook, twitter and instagram. I hired a graphic designer on Upwork to create my logo, built my website myself on squarespace and used canva for the website icons. All in all I spent about $174. Here is the cost breakdown: $12 (domain name), $150 (Graphic Designer), $12 (1 month of squarespace)
Step 3: create a Mini Business Plan
I am a planner by nature, so I created several mini (1-3 page) business plans that mapped out my mission, the customer problem, solution, product phases, customer profiles, potential revenue streams and my marketing/sales approach, One of the business plan templates I used was the business model canvas.
Step4: I quit (my job)
After 5 years of working for New York City government, managing one of their business service centers, NYC Business Solutions, I decided to quit my job. My workload was becoming more and more demanding and all I could ever think about was starting my own business. So with the push of a few friends, I finally made the decision to put my notice into my boss on 6/17/15. I was terrified but excited about what could be. Because I had a great relationship with my boss I was able to negotiate working part time for 5 months while I worked on my startup. I also had about 6 months of living expenses saved up and a few teaching gigs lined up that helped me get by.
Step4: I Landed my first client
What are the odds that one month after I decided to quit my job a colleague that I worked with in the past reached out to me and asked if I would be interested in being a consultant for The Actors Fund to design an entrepreneurship program for performing artist and entertainment professionals. I said, hell yeahhh. After a few interviews with the Actors Fund, I landed my first customer and project (TIP: Relationships are everything. They will help you to get to new levels, so develop and nurture them). My initial business plan did not account for working with organizations to design entrepreneurship programs but I adjusted my business plan based on this new need I saw.
Step4: I Formalized the business
In order to work on my first project I had to get some things squared away. I went to the county clerks office and registered my business as a sole proprietorship in kings county (a.k.a Brooklyn - my home and favorite place), because it was the easiest legal structure to set up and the least expensive ($120). I applied for a EIN for free on IRS.gov, opened up a $100 business bank account with Chase and applied for a business credit card with a $13,000 limit. I was officially in business. :)
Step6: meetings meetings meetings
I had great momentum and wanted to keep it up, so I set up a ton of meetings with people that I thought could help me. I shared my vision and told them that I was looking for clients and support. I scheduled 3-5 meetings a week and had a goal to close 6 customers in my first 6 months.
Step7: i got more clients
The meetings paid off. I networked, got referred to organizations that were looking for entrepreneurship programs, put together proposals and then closed several deals. I was able to close on these deals becuase of my experience and the relationships I built over the years. (TIP: You can do it too)
Step8: I Finally ordered some business cards
After months of going to meetings and business events and not having a business card to give out, a colleague and friend of mine who worked with me on the Renaissance Project, designed and ordered my first set of business cards for $75. I also signed up for a business gmail account for $5 a month to get a professional email address.
Step9: I hired a Virtual ASSISTANT
I work harder now then I have ever worked before. I work 80+ hours a week. As a solopreneur I am responsible for everything, including getting customers, servicing customers, developing products, business planning, bookkeeping, networking and the list goes on. To alleviate some of the workload, I hired a virtual assistant on upwork paying about $8 phr with a 10-15 hour a week max to handle things like scheduling, invoicing, basic research, CRM, email marketing and other administrative tasks.
We are in the process of developing a digital guide on how to Start a Business in NYC. I will keep you posted on my progress. Stay tuned for more stories, tips, resources and guides from me and other entrepreneurs.