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Money Matters: Four tips for starting a business in Utah in 2021

By Pete Ord - GuideCX | Oct 23, 2021


Utah is ranked as the eighth-best state in the nation for doing business, with a business creation rate of 4%, a tax burden of 9.4% and a patent creation rate of 579.7 per million people, according to USNews.com. Additionally, small businesses are booming in Silicon Slopes, where the tech industry is having quite a moment.

When I started GuideCX in Utah in 2017, Silicon Slopes was relatively new and just gaining momentum, but Utah was already one of the best states in which to do business. If you’ve always wanted to be an entrepreneur, take advantage of the fantastic economic climate we have in Utah. Build a strong network, trust intuition, don’t go to your mom for feedback and start before you feel ready. With these tips in your tool belt, you’re on your way to starting a business you can be proud of.

Build a strong network

In my experience, the success of a startup directly correlates with the strength of the entrepreneur’s social network. When I started my business, I knew it was risky but that my wife and family would be on my side no matter what. You have to know that if you give it your all and you fail, your family and friends will still be there for you.

If you feel that your network wouldn’t offer that kind of unconditional support, don’t worry: There are simple steps you can take to build a stronger social circle. Start by joining a club or taking a class to meet new people, and keep making time to strengthen important relationships. Cultivate your listening skills and maintain firm boundaries. These steps will help you build a social network that will help you face the challenges of entrepreneurship.

“Almost all of us benefit from social and emotional support,” according to the experts at the American Psychological Association. “And though it may seem counterintuitive, having strong social support can actually make you more able to cope with problems on your own, by improving your self-esteem and sense of autonomy.”

Trust your intuition

You may have heard this quote, which has often been attributed to Henry Ford: “If I had asked people what they wanted, they would have said faster horses.” Although Ford probably didn’t say this, the quote nicely illustrates an important business principle: Sometimes, iterations on existing ideas don’t lead to significant progress. Instead, major progress often comes when we discover and apply completely new principles.

This approach takes intuition and innovation, which often doesn’t come easily. But in some situations, it can be as simple as wanting something and going after it. As usermethod.com describes it, “The truth is, 50-80% of successful innovations, including Apple, Facebook, YouTube and GoPro, are created through a remarkably simple process — someone wants something, so they make it. Then, they offer it to other people.”

You don’t necessarily have to dive deep into market research or customer development before you get started. Maybe you wish there were a late-night dessert delivery service in your city or a doggy dental treat that your dog would actually gnaw on and not just swallow whole. If you think of a product or service that would make your life easier, chances are others would appreciate it, too.

Don’t go to your mom for feedback

Once you have your idea and are ready to hear feedback, get outside your network. Post about it on Reddit, talk with an accountant or put together a focus group. You will typically get more useful and honest advice from neutral, third-party outsiders than from, say, your mom.

I learned about this principle in Rob Fitzpatrick’s The Mom Test: How to talk to customers and learn if your business is a good idea when everyone is lying to you: “The world’s most deadly fluff is: ‘I would definitely buy that.’ It just sounds so concrete,” Fitzpatrick wrote. “As a founder, you desperately want to believe it’s money in the bank. But folks are wildly optimistic about what they would do in the future. They’re always more positive, excited, and willing to pay in the imagined future than they are once it arrives.”

Start before you feel ready

Sometimes, perfectionism gets in the way of perfect timing. In my view, if you’re not embarrassed by your minimum viable product (MVP), you’ve launched too late. Just build what people will use, release it and iterate based on their feedback. That way, you’re getting real feedback on your real product from real customers. This feedback will help you make what customers actually want, not just what you think they want.

“As you consider building your own minimum viable product, let this simple rule suffice: remove any feature, process, or effort that does not contribute directly to the learning you seek,” said Eric Ries, author of The Lean Startup: How Today’s Entrepreneurs Use Continuous Innovation to Create Radically Successful Businesses.

Continuous innovation is key. If your MVP isn’t brilliant, that’s great – you’ve put it out there, and now you can make much better progress than you could otherwise.

If you’re an aspiring entrepreneur, Utah’s current economic climate is just what you need to start your business. By building a strong network, trusting your intuition, getting feedback from neutral parties and starting before you feel ready, you have a great foundation for a successful business.

Peter Ord is the founder of GuideCX, a client implementation and onboarding project platform based in Draper, Utah.


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