Friday, November 30, 2012

Starting an Outdoor Related Business - Part Two

deer, buck, rut, field dress

We've looked at the numbers and although participating outdoorsman are down, spending is up and has been consistent for the last ten years. It's easy to understand why statistics demonstrate this consistent pattern...hunting and fishing is our passion. We value getting in the tree stand, on the water, or beating the brush as much as kids do their Halloween candy or their Thomas the Train collection. That passion leads to tremendous business opportunities in the field.

Alright, you have a product or service that is going to revolutionize the industry. What next? Understand your competition. Spend as much time as you can educating yourself on who they are and what makes them successful. Once you've determined the who, answer one extremely important question. What makes my product/service better or unique? I know you think it's great, as well as all your friends and family, but when your asking for their opinions, follow-up with the question; Would you be willing to invest  on the ground floor of this wonderful opportunity and see how many say "yes"...with a check in hand. So now you have a great idea, your cash in the account, and maybe some help from friends and family.

For this series of posts, we'll forget about discussing in great detail assumed names, LLC, LLP, sole proprietor, patent search, trademarks, copyrights, non-disclosure agreements, logo development, website development, trade shows, social networking, and blogging. So where do we start? For the time being, I'll give you some of the mistakes I made and what I would do differently in hindsight.

First, determine your capital needs since most companies fail in the first two-years due to under capitalization. Take credit cards off the table unless your wife won't mind having the minivan repossessed and a bankruptcy on your credit. If you have a product, you will more than likely have to raise capital. You probably will know someone, who knows someone, who might have an uncle, who's brother-in-law might invest. First mistake I made. Treat everyone you meet as a serious investor and pitch it until you hear the word "no" or "not interested". Get as many people interested and take as many meetings as possible. Don't assume the one person really interested is going to be the "one". I spoke with many people with the means to invest, but thought I had the one ideal person willing to invest the capital I required. I missed many opportunities because I wanted the perfect situation. My ego wanted to establish the ideal company before I had "proof in the product"If you can't raise capital (after many meetings), re-evaluate before making any financial obligations. A little reflection might reveal the light.

Tomorrow we'll take a look at marketing and distribution. Only gets more fun from here.

***On a side note, document all meetings and have all legal documents either complete or in the works before raising careful of the sharks. If necessary, ask the individual to sign an nda (non-disclosure agreement) before taking the meeting. 

A few more statistics for you number crunchers:

Most type of fish pursued in freshwater (excluding the Great Lakes) is the black bass at 33%
Catfish and trout tied at 23%

Most type of big game hunted is deer at 80% with turkey at 11% (I have a little issue with turkey being ranked as "big game", but not my census.

Rabbit and squirrel tied at 15% for small game and doves came in at 10% for migratory birds.

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