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Two Tips on Starting Your Business from Greg Sutton

  • January 16, 2014
  • Written by
Greg Sutton, CEO, TinyEYE Therapy Services Greg Sutton, CEO, TinyEYE Therapy Services

Greg Sutton is the Co-Founder and CEO of TinyEYE Therapy Services, the first company in the world to provide speech language pathology services online. Greg and his sister/business partner, Marnee Brick, have taken their company from being a small start-up to emerging as the world leader in online speech therapy - providing services in 12 countries and 5 languages. It is TinyEYE's vision to be the number one advocate in the world for children finding their voice. Previous to TinyEYE, Greg spent 5 years as the Executive Director for the Saskatchewan Advanced Technology Association. During the 'dot com' boom of the late 90's, Greg was part of the Management Team for a start-up web based travel guide company in South East Asia. When the tech bubble burst, the company was 'dot gone', and Greg moved on to South America where he wrote travel guides for the Amazon region.

Greg takes time out of his very busy schedule to provide a few tips on starting a business:

Learn Who To Trust

Like many others, when starting a business, my network of friends, family, colleagues, professional agents and others offered much support and advice to help us get off the ground. There were so many unknowns and so many decisions to be made - it was a very exciting and scary time, with seemingly one false step and it would all be over. With all the advice and support – what could go wrong? Many things.

For example many of the advice givers have never started a business and may not be acquainted with the realities of bootstrapping it. Some may have their own self-interest in mind in wanting you to try an approach they are considering to see if it is something that could work for them. Others can speak confidently and sound very knowledgeable without actually knowing more than what they read on a blog that morning.

The lesson I learned in this is: Trust those who help you seek the truth, do not trust those who claim to have it.

Be Resourceful

When starting our business we had an overabundance of energy, ideas, passion and drive - we lacked focus and resources. In terms of focus, most businesses start as more of an art and transform into a science – for good reason – you cannot predict or plan how your market will react to your great idea. The primary challenge at this stage is surviving long enough to build your economic engine and create the structure and processes that will drive the longevity of your business. The obstacle in gathering resources is that you have not proven that you can manage them and as such you are viewed as very risky - so it is very difficult to get anything from traditional financing organizations.

Many people start to get jaded at this point and begin blaming banks, government granting agencies, investors, potential customers and so on for not supporting entrepreneurs and not knowing how to do their job (and we might caught this flu for a while too). The problem with this mindset and approach is that 99.99% of the time it results in bankruptcy – and it should.

You cannot change the banks, the investors, the customers and so on – you can only change yourself. If you are astute and act on good advice (see lesson #1), most likely all of these organizations will tell you exactly how you need to change or improve to gain resources from them. We received much of this advice and we were able to successfully act up on it and gain financing from banks, investors, government granting agencies and most importantly – customers.

The lesson I learned in this is: It is never a lack of resources that stops me from achieving my goals; it is a lack of resourcefulness!!! This small adjustment in perspective puts the onus on me to succeed, and removes a sense entitlement that something is owed to me from the rest of the world – because it is not!

Interested in Starting a Business?

Download our step-by-step ebook 'the Saskatchewan Business Start-up Checklist'

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This ebook will focus on helping you with the administrative aspects of setting up a business – knowing the regulatory requirements of starting a business in Saskatchewan and spending as little money as possible to do so.