Small Business Survival Plan for COVID-19 - BusinessTown

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Small Business Survival Plan for COVID-19

SMALL BUSINESS SURVIVAL PLAN FOR COVID-19

 

No money? No hope? Don’t give up! Your business can survive!

Even if you have totally run out of money and are completely without hope, your business can almost certainly survive the COVID-19 crisis. Furthermore, you can emerge with a business that is stronger than the business you had before the crisis.

How do I know this? My name is Bob Adams. I have started many small, woefully undercapitalized businesses and successfully navigated them through one crisis after the next. The most common and painful crisis was running out of cash. At times not only did I have no cash on hand, but I projected massive cash shortfalls in the months ahead. At other times my bank showed me the door and no other bank would lend me money either.

I’ve survived running out of money and so can you.

All too often it seemed like my business was finished. I was totally out of money and hopelessly in debt. And the future looked even worse. It seemed like there was no way out.

But time after time, I put together a plan and found a way to survive. For example, I started my book publishing business in my basement apartment with just $1500 and took it through one crisis after the next, eventually growing and selling it for $40 million.

No matter how bleak things seem now, your business can survive. And you can create an even stronger business model at the same time. Here’s how to do it.

First, calm it down.

When the bleakest moment hits, you have to calm yourself down. For me, I’d first go for a run. Then I’d remind myself that while running out of money was bad, it wasn’t as bad as let’s say getting hit by a truck. But sometimes I felt so shocked by sudden bad news – such as finding out that we would be $400,000 short in 30 days – that I would have to digest the news for a day before being able to work on a solution. Sometimes you can’t just dive into it.

Small Business Survival Plan for COVID-19
First, you need to clear your mind and get ready for some deep thinking.

You might be thinking how can I get calm when the crisis is threatening to end my business and throw my life into upheaval? You can’t expect to get totally calm. But you can get calm enough to start working on a new plan for your business.

OK… so you’re maybe you’re thinking…forget getting calm and coming up with a plan, I already am out of cash and can’t pay my bills. Now what?

Second, understand the key positive difference for you in this COVID-19 crisis.

Listen. This COVID-19 crisis really is different than any other. Everyone on the entire planet knows about it! And everyone is being impacted by it!

And that’s a huge benefit to you! Usually, your business problem is YOUR business problem. But this business problem is the WORLD’S business problem.

Because it’s a global problem everyone understands what your problem is.

This crisis gives you a carte blanche to stop paying your bills! It gives you a carte blanche for creditors to understand why you are not paying your bills.

You’ve got a carte blanche to stop paying your bills.

One of my friends got a letter from his landlord saying that they expected him to continue paying his rent. So he told me he still needed to pay it. But the reason the landlord sent the letter is because they don’t expect him to pay the rent! Or at least they expect there is a good chance he and many of their other tenants are not going to pay the rent. At least not right now.

coronavirus bills
Don’t panic. Almost every business is struggling to pay their bills right now.

This crisis in your business did not happen because you made a business mistake. This crisis did not happen because you were not prepared for a recession. This crisis happened because of a global pandemic that led governments forcing businesses all over to shut down and consumers to stay at home. It’s not your fault.

You can’t be expected to pay your bills normally when the government is shutting down both businesses and consumers.

People don’t expect you to run your business and pay your bills the way you usually do.

To be honest, from a legal perspective, you are taking on risk if you don’t pay your bills. But if you can’t pay your bills or all your bills, then you can’t pay them. During this crisis, there is nothing dishonorable or unethical about not paying your bills if you can’t. It is possible that creditors could take legal action against you. But in most cases, the legal action is not going to begin quickly, especially at this time.

But you do need a survival plan.

So let’s start developing a survival plan that’s going to get you through this.

If you have some key employees you may decide to completely involve them in all steps of creating your survival plan. For me, during a total cash crisis, I tend to do most of the work in creating a survival plan on my own. Speed and making difficult wide-sweeping decisions quickly matters. I do whatever I have to do to find quiet time, out-of-the-office to get going on a plan. And I typically work on it deep into the night.

Then once I have a basic plan, I’ll go and present it to key employees, get their feedback and modify the plan. Rushed as I might feel to get a survival plan into action, I would try to listen patiently to feedback from key employees. My plan may change significantly after getting their feedback. And even if my plan doesn’t change much, it is important that the key employees felt that they had a “voice” and their opinions were “heard.”

If you have a really talented and highly involved team of employees you may instead decide to involve them completely during this process of creating a survival plan. This, of course, can get messy if even part of the discussion gets into even temporarily eliminating their positions. So think out this approach before you embark on it.

Now I know many business people, like my son, think that I run my business like someone from the age of dinosaurs since I don’t involve my key people throughout a process like this. And I don’t think he is necessarily wrong. You need to choose which approach will work best for you.

Forget how you ran the business yesterday. Today is a whole new ball game.

Whether you create a survival plan by yourself or with your team, there is a basic mindset that I recommend: “zero-based planning.” In other words, the past is past. Forget it. It’s not going to work now. Start with no assumptions. Start with a blank sheet of paper.

In other words, you are not going to think about maybe trimming the hours you are open or reducing your marketing costs or trimming your overhead.

Instead, you are going to redesign your business totally. And you are going to design it to survive during this tough time.

Small Business Survival Plan for COVID-19-2
You need a survival plan now. And it needs to work for the months to come, not just for a couple of weeks.

Don’t trim a little bit each week…make all your changes at once.

You don’t want to be in a situation where you slowly decide to trim a little this week and hope that this crisis will end really quickly. It’s not going to happen. This crisis is not going to end overnight. COVID-19 isn’t going to disappear instantly. And even when the worst of it ends, the economy is not going to bounce back like a rubber ball! That’s a fantasy! It’s going to take time to get back to a high spending, normal economy. So you don’t want to be in a situation where you cut a little this week. And then you go into crisis again next week and you cut a little more. And so on and so forth!

Instead, you want to redesign your business on a survivable basis right now. It will likely involve some painful decisions. Maybe you won’t be able to serve customers who can’t pay in advance. Maybe you will need to abandon a slow-moving product line. Maybe you will have to reduce your staff.

My experience has been that it is much better to do a complete redesign of your business as soon as possible, rather than make one incremental cut after the next. Later as you find your business is gaining strength you can consider adding back aspects of your business that you are cutting now.

coronavirus timing
No matter how busy and overwhelmed you are, you must take the time to create a new plan.

You just gotta find the time to create a great new plan.

I know that at this point it may seem impossible to come up with the time to carefully put together a thoughtful survival plan. But you have to do it. You have to take the time to do it.

It will likely involve working day and night for a few days to come up with a great plan. But if you can remain optimistic that you will survive today and that you will thrive tomorrow, it is easier to keep up the energy to create a great plan.

Here’s a basic 7-part survival plan:

Your Small Business Survival Plan During COVID-19

#1. Strategy
A short one-page description of the temporary design of the business for the crisis period, with an emphasis on ensuring survival of the business.

#2. Bill Prioritization
A ranked list of which bills will be paid as money is available.

#3. New Budget
A new monthly budget for the crisis period.

#4. Projected Income Statements
Projected profit and loss statements for each month of the crisis period.

#5. Projected Balance Sheets
Projected balance sheets for each month of the crisis period.

#6. Projected Cash Flow
Projected cash flow for each month of the crisis period.

I had my first cash flow crisis in my first business Bob’s Rent-A-Bike.

Here’s an example of a Survival Plan Strategy for Bob’s Rent-A-Bike, loosely based upon my first business venture.

Sample Survival Strategy: Bob’s Rent-A-Bike

Current Situation:

Because of the COVID-19 crisis, I expect the demand for bicycle rentals during our peak summer season to sharply decline somewhere in the range of 30 to 50 percent. With my current budget, even a 30% decline would make the business unprofitable. and I would have to use some of my meager savings to keep the business running. At a 50% decline, the business would be losing money so quickly that it would use up all of my savings and I would be bankrupt if I tried to pay all my bills. And speaking of bills, I am already behind on paying many of my bills and creditors are calling looking for payment.

Changes to Increase Cash Flow:

New Service: We will start offering bicycle repairs to the general public. Since we anticipate running below capacity this will not require any additional employees.
Pricing Change: We will reduce our rates for multi-day bicycle rentals. This should increase the total revenue by encouraging people to rent bicycles for longer periods of time.
Asset Sales: We will sell off 30% of our bicycle inventory at cost or even lower if necessary.

Changes to Reduce Costs:

*We will cut our advertising costs by 50% by eliminating our least effective advertising channels that might not be profitable with reduced demand.
*We will trim our operating hours during the offseason when demand is low.
*We will hire one less seasonal employee during our peak season.
*We will go through all budget items one-by-one and determine which items we can skip or reduce at this time.

Bill Prioritization Plan:

Cash on hand: $2,190

Bills Overdue:

Commonwealth of Massachusetts, sales tax: $312
Landlord last month’s rent: $2,300
Internal Revenue Service, income tax payment missed: $985
National Bicycle Wholesale, 47 days overdue: $3,412
First National Bank, last month’s term loan payment: $1300

I will first pay the Massachusetts sales tax. Really sales taxes and payroll taxes are not bills they are money that I am holding in escrow for the state or federal government so paying them is a very high priority.

I hate to not pay the landlord the rent but I don’t have enough money now. I will call the landlord and tell him I don’t have the money now but that I have a “Survival Plan” and that I can only pay half of the rent and I can only pay it 15 days from now.

I will pay the IRS income tax over the busy summer season when I have the income. I will notify them of my situation and explain when I will make payments as soon as the summer season begins.

National Bicycle Wholesale I will first ask if I can return any recently purchased bicycles for credit since I now anticipate lower demand. Then if I can’t then I will tell them they will have to wait for payment until I am able to sell some of the excess bicycle inventory.

With First National Bank I will call my loan officer and tell her about my Survival Plan for my business. I will assure her that the bank will be repaid eventually but for the next 90 days, I will not be able to make any payments.

There is almost always a way to finance a small business.

Tap Any Possible Financing Sources

Financial projections

Creating all these financial projections is a lot of work. How detailed should they be? For how many months should you create them? Should you include multiple scenarios?

Your new monthly budget should be quite detailed. The more detailed it is, the more you can cut expenses. Similarly, I rather risk being too detailed as opposed to not being detailed enough when projecting your cash flow. For your income statements and your balance sheets being detailed is not as important at this time of crisis. Cash is what matters most.

For a simple, one-person service business, making three months of projections may be sufficient. And you only need one set of projections: your most likely scenario.

For a complex, multi-person product business that relies upon bank financing, you may want to make projections for 12 months. And you will likely want to create three sets of scenarios: a likely case scenario, a pessimistic case scenario, and an optimistic case scenario.

New financing sources: There are lots of alternatives.

Of course in the US as well as in many other countries, government agencies are dramatically ramping up financial support and lending for small businesses at this difficult time. Beyond that, there is an incredible number of different ways you can finance a small business. And while it may usually be difficult to finance a business in deep trouble, potential financiers may in some cases be more understanding during this unique situation. I’m not saying getting financing can be easy but it can be done. Especially if you are willing to carefully and professionally approach a variety of potential funding sources. However, if time is of the essence, which it often is in these situations you might want to first consider friends and family financing

Implementing Your Plan

What you plan to do matters. But how you communicate that message to your key stakeholders is important as well.

How do you talk with creditors and lenders?

First, don’t ignore them. For key creditors and lenders, you want to try to get a decision-maker on the phone. Have your survival plan ready first. If you can’t pay them now then tell them you have a plan. If you know when you can definitely pay then tell them. If you don’t know, then don’t promise a date. But try to be in a situation where you can promise them that you will survive and you will pay them. Be confident and genuine on the phone. Everyone else is having cash flow issues too. You have nothing to be embarrassed about.

Working with your employees

Once you have your Survival Plan put together and discussed it with your key employees, it’s time to discuss the situation with the rest of your employees, if you have any.

survival guide covid customers
Be fair to the employees you have to let go and involve your team’s key players in the survival process.

First, you want to separately meet with any employees that you are dismissing, temporarily laying off, or reducing hours for. You want to meet with them in-person, one-to-one if possible. Then explain in a nice way your difficult situation and what it will mean for them. If you are dismissing them, then hopefully you will be able to offer some kind of severance pay or extend benefits for at least a short period of time. While you and or your key people may be very busy and distracted it is important to take time and energy to deliver this difficult news to employees as carefully as possible. For one, how you deliver the news will impact other employees who are not being dismissed. And for another, it’s just the right thing to do.

Re-assure your employees with an in-person meeting.

Then you want to pull together your remaining employees in an in-person group meeting. You want to assure them that you now have a carefully developed survival plan for your business during this difficult time of COVID-19. You especially want to assure them that you believe you will not have to make any future job cuts and that you believe that their continued employment at your firm should be safe.

Then you can outline any changes that your company is making. I would also recommend asking for everyone’s help in either increasing revenue or decreasing costs or both. I would even consider offering cash prizes for cost-cutting suggestions. And finally, I would field any questions that people might have. Additionally, I would offer to be available to discuss anything about these changes or the impact of COVID-19 on them or the workplace on a one-to-one basis.

Seek help from your employees.

When I tried this at my book publishing company the employees in the warehouse came up with a proposal to dramatically reduce our trash removal costs of damaged books. In fact, they came up with a source to buy the damaged books so they were able to turn a large cost into a significant piece of ongoing revenue.

Communicate with your customers.

You have to put yourself in your customers’ shoes and think about how they view your business now. Communicate with them how your business has changed. Communicate with them how you will handle things differently now. If you have any in-person contact with them or with products being delivered to them, emphasize steps you have to ensure their safety.

How you will treat your customers in this time of crisis could define your business for years… So do your very best!

Here are two different examples of customer communication and service during COVID-19.

At the beginning of this crisis, I had to cancel a hotel reservation that I received a special no-refund non-cancellable rate on. Just before I was about to call the Marriot-owned hotel, I received an email from the CEO of Marriot saying that because of COVID-19 anyone could cancel reservations for a full refund. Then I called the hotel and the cherry reservation agent also assured me it was not a problem to cancel and they were happy to issue a refund. This left me with a great feeling and I can’t wait to go back to this hotel in September.

Then I tried to contact American Airlines. Their website had ambiguous messages on cancellations. At one place the website said I could cancel but I would only get a refund. At three other places on the website, it said I would not even get a refund for my ticket type. Finally, after waiting endlessly to get someone on the phone I asked the reservation agent if I could get a refund or credit for another trip. She said that I could not get a refund but that I could rebook the trip using the same ticket. On top of that, she seemed “matter of fact” not at all as friendly as the reservationist at Marriott. Unlike Marriott, I’m not eager to go back and use American Airlines.

A Great Chance to Radically Improve Your Business Model

So how does my company emerge better from the crisis?

The “small” answer you can see from the examples above. Such as turning damaged books from a cost to a source of revenue. And the example from Bob’s Rent-A-Bike of adding bicycle repair to the company’s products.

A big crisis opens the doors for big changes and improvements.

But the “big” answer is that a crisis can open your mind and the mind of your employees to consider totally re-doing and improving your business model.

As Winston Churchill said, “Never let a good crisis go to waste.”

A good crisis is an awesome time to rethink some of the basic concepts and assumptions about your business. A crisis opens your mind to doing things in new ways and frankly just opening up one’s mind to new possibilities is one of the biggest stumbling blocks to radically improving the performance of a business, especially a small business.

Hence a crisis is a great time to re-examine your core business strategy.

covid business crisis
This crisis is a great opportunity to rethink and transform your business.

In particular, I believe that the vast majority of small businesses could radically improve their business performance if they just improved these three things.

The Three Big Things I Suggest You Take a Hard Look At

Just re-examining three things can send your business performance through the roof!

Three key things almost any business can do better:

#1 Clearly target identifiable markets
#2 Sharply differentiate products and services
#3 Communicate your value proposition in a “Unique Selling Proposition”

Doing each of these three things exceptionally well is extremely important for a well-run business.

Very very few businesses really do these things really well!

So why don’t small businesses do these three things well? The problem is that most businesses think that they do. And maybe your business is the exception. Maybe you do all of these three things great.

But I’ll share a secret with you. I have a Harvard Business School degree. I have successfully started over a dozen businesses and made a lot of money. But here’s my secret…I have not always done these three things well. And in hindsight, if I had, I would have been even more successful.

Not doing these three things well is the #1 reason that small businesses underperform. It’s the #1 reason that so many small businesses suffer from low-profit margins, slow growth, and weak financial performance. And it’s likely the #1 reason that small businesses fail.

Let’s take a quick look at these crucial three factors for business success:

#1 Clearly target identifiable markets

First, you need to have one or more clearly identifiable target markets. You want to design your business to do an excellent job of serving these markets.

#2 Sharply differentiate products and services

Second, your business needs to be “differentiated.” You are unique and your products and services need to be unique to. They need to offer something special that your competitors do not. Something that really matters to your customers.

Weak differentiation is perhaps the most common reason small businesses underperform and fail. 

#3 Communicate your value proposition in a “Unique Selling Proposition”

Third, you need a powerful unique selling proposition. A phrase or sentence that neatly explains why a customer should do business with you and not your competitor?

Excelling in these three dimensions alone can create a very successful business model. And there is no time better than a massive crisis to re-evaluate your whole business concept and make sure that it is strong as it can possibly be.

It might seem grim now, but your business can survive!

So no matter how grim the situation seems for your business now, let’s a powerful Survival Plan in place that will ensure that your business not only thrives but is stronger than ever before.

For more help on how your small business can survive the COVID-19 crisis, I suggest my short video courses:

How to Turn Around a Struggling Business
How to Kickstart Your Business
How to Boost Your Profits
How to Create Your Business Plan
Business Strategy: Your Formula for Success
How to Create Your Competitive Advantage
How to Finance Your Business: The Best Options
Accounting & Financial Statements
Credit & Collections

These courses are all on BusinessTown which you can try for free for 7 days.


Bob Adams

Bob Adams is the founder of BusinessTown the go-to learning platform for people starting and running their own businesses. Bob has started dozens of successful businesses, including one he launched with $1500 and sold for $40 million. He also has an MBA from Harvard Business School.

BUSINESSTOWN’S #1 BEST SELLING COURSE:

START-A-BUSINESS 101

Say goodbye to your 9-to-5 job and start a business you love!

Wouldn’t you love to be your own boss? To have true independence? To enjoy a really great income? To work when and where you want? To live the lifestyle of your dreams?

You’re probably thinking…“That sounds great but how can I possibly do that? I don’t know anything about how to start a business and I don’t even have a good business idea.”

What you really want is a detailed roadmap that will guide you every single step of the way.

A roadmap that will give you clear, easy-to-follow directions throughout your entire journey of starting a business.

A roadmap that will show you specifically what to do.

A roadmap that will alert you if you are about to take a wrong turn or make one of the most common mistakes made by new entrepreneurs.

A roadmap that will show you the exact route that has worked for successful entrepreneurs that took the journey before you.

What you really want is a shortcut to business success.

This is exactly what you’ll get with…

Start-a-Business 101 – the #1 bestselling course from BusinessTown.

Start-a-Business 101 is a complete step-by-step program for starting your own business.

This course will transform you from a complete rookie into a knowledgeable and successful entrepreneur.

Even if you know nothing about business.

Even if you don’t have a great business idea.

Even if you don’t have a clue about where to start.

You will get everything you need to start your own business.

 Easy-to-follow videos

Watch our short, easy-to-follow videos to learn exactly how to start your business.

  Ready-to-use tools 

Use our worksheets, templates, checklists and samples to save time and keep on track.

  Discussion board 

Ask your questions and get help from real experts on our private discussion board.

  Inside advice 

Discover and avoid the common pitfalls that bog down many new entrepreneurs.

  Proven strategies 

Learn the same techniques used by highly successful entrepreneurs.

You will be guided step-by-step throughout your entire startup journey and you will be able to start your business on a rock-solid foundation

Start-a-Business 101 will be perfect for you…

…if you are thinking about starting a business.

 …if you are looking for a great business idea. 

…if you have an idea that you want to turn into a business. 

…if you already have a little knowledge or if you have none at all. 

This course will show you how to start a business even if you have no experience and very little money. 

The course works for all types of businesses and all sizes of businesses from part-time home-based businesses to larger enterprises.

Meet Bob Adams.

Hi there, I’m Bob Adams.

I’m a serial entrepreneur and self-made multimillionaire.


Welcome to the preview page for my course, Start-a-Business 101

I am so excited that you are considering starting your own business! 

For me, starting and building my own businesses has been incredibly awesome.

I’ve made a lot of money, built some great businesses, developed cool products, delivered valuable services, provided employment for others, and had one heck of a lot of fun and fulfilment along the way. 

I started with nothing. Nobody handed me money or an existing business. 

Yes, I do have a Harvard MBA – but many of my businesses I started before I ever set foot in a business school classroom. 

You too can start a really successful business from scratch and without a business school education. 

I’ve made it happen. So can you.

I’ve started over a dozen successful businesses.

I’ve started many types of businesses including service businesses, product businesses, and Internet businesses. 

Most of these businesses I started out of my home with very little money. 

That includes one business that I started in my basement apartment with $1500 and later sold for $40 million. 

I understand what it’s like to start small. 

I started my early businesses with very little money, running them from home and often part-time. 

So I know what it’s like to have a tiny budget and have to do all the work yourself. 

I also discovered that even with a very small business, you can make some great money and have a lot of fun! 

Now I’m here to help you start your own business. 

I’ve been in the same situation as you many times before – wanting to start a business but not sure of exactly how to do it. 

Now with my vast experience, I can show you how to avoid the common mistakes made by new entrepreneurs. 

I can show you how to start your business right. 

I’ve helped millions of entrepreneurs around the world through my books, my website and my courses. 

I’ve authored or co-authored 17 books on business, many of which have been translated into multiple languages and sold around the world. My ideas and strategies work everywhere. 

These are just a few of my best-selling business books.

I present my best and most up-to-date advice in this flagship course, Start-a-Business 101

I’ve appeared on television shows including The 700 Club, NBC’s Today and Oprah!

My books and courses have been featured in:

Here’s how I got started with my businesses

Looking back, I’ll never forget the lousy summer jobs I had as a teenager.

For example when I worked as a dishwasher at a busy restaurant, I got stuck with all the jobs nobody else wanted to do – like cleaning the filthy restrooms and emptying the smelly grease bucket.

The work itself didn’t bother me too much. But I couldn’t stand the idea of working for someone else.

I knew I was meant to be an entrepreneur.

So when I was 19, on my first summer vacation from college, I decided I was never going to work for anybody else – ever again.

My first business: Bob’s Rent-A-Bike 

A neighbor, who ran a bicycle wholesale business told me about a guy who was making over $300,000 in profit just in the summer, renting bicycles on Cape Cod. 

My eyes lit up! Why can’t I do that I thought? 

I’ll call it Bob’s Rent-A-Bike! 

I had absolutely no business experience. 

About the only related knowledge I had was that I knew how to ride a bicycle! 

And I had very little money – only $1,000 – just enough to buy some used bikes.

My father was appalled.

Don’t do it! – he said. It won’t work! You’ll lose everything! Get a real job. 

All my friends thought I was crazy too!

To be honest I was a little scared. 

I was scared because it was my first business and I didn’t know what I was doing. 

I was scared it wouldn’t work. 

I was scared I would lose my meager savings. 

I was scared I would look like an idiot. 

But I went ahead and started it anyway.

I started out trying to copy everything my competitors were doing. 

But they had shiny new bicycles. 

I had old and rusty used bicycles – all I could afford.

Untitled design (21)

My competitors had lined up the best rental locations – typically corner gas stations. 

I had much worse locations – all that was left. 

So copying my competitors didn’t work! 

Nobody was renting my bicycles! 

So I tried something different.

I offered free delivery of rental bikes to motels and campsites. 

My business took off like a rocket!

It didn’t matter anymore that I had old and rusty bicycles and lousy rental locations. 

What mattered was that I offered free delivery and my competitors did not.

Offering something unique that your customers care about is called “differentiation.” And it’s a very important factor for business success. 

In Start-a-Business 101 I explain how you can successfully “differentiate” your business.

Bob’s Rent-a-Bike ended up being a big summer success for me. I never worked for anyone else again. 

So let’s recap. 

I was scared to start my first business – no one believed in me, not even my own father.

I only had $1,000 and I had no idea what I was doing. 

But I decided to go ahead anyway. 

And in my short summer break I made great money – much more than I could have made in any summer job.

It was a wake-up call!

Why should I work for someone else if I could make a lot more money working for myself? 

Besides it was a lot more fun to be my own boss and run a business that I really loved! 

You can do it too! You can be your own boss! Make great money! And run a business that you really love!

College Painters: An easy-to-start and profitable business 

Another year, I heard that some students were making a lot of money painting houses during the summer – so of course I had to give that a shot. 

I called my business, College Painters – but I actually ended up hiring high school teachers who had the summer off.

These early posters were crude but they delivered the right message.

Like me, the teachers didn’t have a lot of experience. 

To be sure I had “some” experience – I had painted some model trains and once I even painted an old row boat. 

But after our first painting job, we all had experience!

After I lined up our first house painting job, I asked the customer to advance us money to pay for the paint and supplies. 

So College Painters is an example of a solid, proven business that is easy-to-start. I began it with virtually no experience and no money. 

Yet I was able to make good profits from the very first painting job. 

Small businesses like this are simple, steady money-makers. 

If you run them well you can make a great income – much more than you can make working for someone else.

Adams Media Corporation: Big profits from a small start

Within a couple years, I was at Harvard Business School but still starting businesses, including a book publishing company, Adams Media Corporation.

I began the business in my basement apartment with one little book. 

Starting small was kind of a given because I had no related experience, only $1500 to invest, and I was still a full-time student. 

My first book was a guide to local companies for job hunters, called The Boston Job Bank

Using all my low-cost marketing ideas, I quickly turned this book into a #1 local bestseller.

I carefully applied my best strategies to this business. I developed a business model that was “differentiated” from the other players in not just one, but several important ways. 

Clearly I had learned that doing business like everyone else was not the best road to success. 

As a result the company was incredibly successful. 

Sales grew like wildfire. And our profits surged, reaching $5 million a year. 

Our 25% profit margins were 2x to 5x higher than those of the much larger, more established players. 

Adams Media Corporation grew into one of the largest independent publishers in the US. 

I eventually sold it for $40 million. 

It’s now part of Simon & Schuster. 

Even if I worked ten lives of a typical 9 to 5 job holder, I never would have made that kind of money. 

So now not only was I rich, but I didn’t need to work at all. 

I could go to my kids’ sports games. I could go to the beach. I could sail around the world. Or anything and everything else that I wanted to do. 

I had the power to do it all. It was an awesome feeling. 

This entrepreneur thing worked out pretty well.

So what can you learn from this story?

You can start your business small. Really small. Even part-time. And still grow it into a huge success story. 

You can attract customers without spending a lot of money on marketing. In Start-a-Business 101 I share with you my 50 favorite low-cost “guerilla” marketing ideas plus the latest in digital marketing. 

By carefully developing a unique or “differentiated” business model, your business can be even more successful and profitable than the established players. I show you exactly how to do this in Start-a-Business 101. This course includes an entire module on How to Create a Powerful Competitive Advantage. 

You don’t need a lot of money to start a successful business. My total investment in Adams Media Corporation was $1500.

Even more businesses

Another time I’d love to tell you about my other businesses which have included… two Internet businesses, trading used boats, a tourist and street map business, a magazine group, phone books, a retail business, a job newspaper, job fairs, a college newspaper, a software business, a classified advertiser, a multimedia company and an employment agency. 

It’s been quite an exciting ride! And the best is yet to come.

Once I was in your shoes, not sure what to do or how to get started.

I had to learn what works and what doesn’t work, sometimes the hard way.

I have started a lot of different businesses of all types and sizes, building my knowledge along the way. 

I discovered what really matters in business. I was able to pinpoint the concepts that can make or break your business before you even start it. 

Eventually, I was finally able to put together all the pieces and create an awesome business strategy and my $40 million masterpiece of a business, Adams Media Corporation. 

Well I’ve got great news for you! 

You’re not going to go through years of trial and error. You won’t have to make mistakes or learn anything the hard way. 

Because the recipe for business success is waiting for you in my course, Start-a-Business 101

In this course, you will get the same proven strategies and tactics that I used to create my most successful businesses. 

You don’t need to be a genius, a tech wizard or a born salesperson to make it happen. You don’t even need to have any business background at all. 

This recipe for success will apply if you are starting a part-time business, a one-person business, a home-based business or a larger enterprise. 

It will apply if you are starting a service business, a product business, an Internet business or any other kind of business. 

By following my recipe, my step-by-step training, you too can become a successful entrepreneur.

It’s a wonderful life!

You too can enjoy the entrepreneur lifestyle.

It’s not just a wild crazy dream – it’s very doable – whatever your situation. Here’s how my lifestyle changed since I’ve become an entrepreneur.

My lifestyle has changed dramatically since I’ve become a successful entrepreneur.

Remember, I started out in a small basement apartment. Well, I no longer live there. My seventeen room classic brick manor home has a few amenities that my basement apartment lacked including a movie theater room, a complete gym, a home office, a wine cellar, my model train room, multiple garages, extensive gardens, a coy pond and a tennis court. 

Being an entrepreneur means I work when and where I want including from one of my vacation homes on Cape Cod or Nantucket. 

I work where and when I want. I get to travel the world and meet fascinating people.

I frequently travel. I particularly enjoy educational and culturally enriching trips organized by leading business organizations, universities and museums. This has given me the opportunity to personally meet fascinating leaders from around the world in all fields including business, government, education and the arts.

I love my Maserati. I’m not a car guy but sometimes you have to treat yourself.

I’m not a car guy. But I love my Maserati – which I treated myself to after selling one of my businesses. It’s the Cambiocorsa Coupe model with a 400 horsepower engine that quickly tops out at 200 miles an hour. I love the fine Italian leather interior just as much as the engine. It’s an awesome car from a great car company – started by a visionary entrepreneur, Alfieri Maserati.

I control my own schedule. I get plenty of time for family, friends and doing the things that I like

Being my own boss means I have a lot of time to have fun and hang out with my family. I especially enjoyed coaching my kids in soccer from kindergarten into high school. Unlike many other parents I was able to free up my afternoons during the week to coach their soccer teams. I loved it! And I did this coaching even when I was running up to as many as four different businesses at the same time. 

Everyone needs a hobby! Here’s my model railroad – the trains are ready to run!

I’m a little crazy about my model trains! They occupy one of the largest rooms in my house, I have 8 scale miles of track and I can operate up to 10 trains at once. Building this near museum quality model railroad took a lot of time. I model Boston and the New England countryside in the year 1900. 

The Best Thing about Being an Entrepreneur… 

It’s not the money. It’s not the big houses, the cars or the fancy vacations. 

The best part is being able to do work that you truly love! 

To actually get paid to do work that you really enjoy doing – it’s very cool! It’s also neat to be your own boss. To be In charge of your own destiny. To be the star of your own show. 

For example, I don’t have to answer to anyone, I don’t have to wake up early to commute in the morning. I choose my own hours. If I want to take a three day week end or have a 3 hour lunch I just do it! 

As an entrepreneur the work is never boring. You are always learning new things. Meeting new people. Being creative.

I love my work! I’m always learning new things and meeting really interesting people!

You are also providing products or services that are useful to others. You become a valuable contributor to the community. And you build a business that you can be proud of. 

I love it!

Here it is…the #1 best-selling course from BusinessTown.  

In this course I will show you everything that you need to do to start your own business. You’ll get all my inside information on how to start your business right. 

You’ll get the same ideas, strategies and tactics that I used to build one successful business after the next. 

Whatever your background and whatever type or size of business you are starting, I will guide you through every step of your startup journey.

BUSINESSTOWN’S #1 BEST SELLING COURSE:

Start-a-Business 101

Learn how to start your own business

Start-a-Business 101 is a complete program for starting your own business.

Find a great business idea 

Turn your idea into a profitable business 

Attract customers without spending a lot of money 

Start small and grow as fast as you want 

Get proven strategies and insider advice

You will learn exactly what to do at each step of starting your business. 

You will get proven strategies, real-life examples, ready-to-go templates, checklists and worksheets to help guide you along and save you time. 

You won’t have to guess what you should do next or if you are doing things right.

 You will be following the best advice available today. 

You will be getting the same techniques and strategies that I used to build one successful business after the next including the one I started with $1,500 and sold for $40 million. 

You will put your startup on the fastest and most proven path to success.

Everything you need to get started with your business

Rock-solid advice

You will learn my proven strategies for starting a business.

Short, easy-to-follow videos

You will be guided step-by-step through the whole process by short and easy to follow videos. 

Downloadable business tools

You’ll also get 46 templates, worksheets, checklists and samples to save you time and keep you on track.

Learn at your own pace and on any device

Instant access

Get instant access to the entire course. Set your own learning pace. Watch one video a day or binge watch the entire program in one weekend. It’s up to you!

All devices

You can access the course on any device including your computer, your tablet or your smartphone.

Lifetime access

You can access the entire course for as long as you want.

Learn how to start a business in just 10 minutes a day

If you watch just one video (typically 4 to 10 minutes) each day, you can complete the entire course in about 10 weeks. 

The ready-to-go tools such as the worksheets, templates, checklists and samples will save you a ton of time. 

Learn to start a business in just a few minutes a day.

Have a question you can’t find answered in the course? You can get a personalized answer from our experts on the discussion board. 

You will not be alone in starting your business. 

You won’t have to spend endless hours searching around for the next piece of information, only to wonder if the advice is actually any good at all. 

With this course you get the best quality advice all organized and delivered right to you. 

You won’t have to wonder if something that you are doing for your business is the right approach. 

You won’t have to waste time and money by “trial and error.” 

With this course you can be confident that you are taking the best approach to every situation. 

No matter what type of business you are starting or what size of business, Start-a-Business 101 will help you start your business right and start it as soon as possible. 

From one-person home-based businesses to venture-backed startups, from service businesses to online businesses, this course will get you to the starting line as fast as possible.

Watch the overview video

Why Choose Start-a-Business 101?

You can be your own boss. Enjoy true independence and be the star of your own show. Work when and where you want. 

Start a business you love. You’ve got one life to live – so why not start the business of your dreams? I’’ll show you exactly how to do it. 

Make more money. Use our proven strategies to earn the highest profits in your industry and make a lot more money than you could at a 9-to-5 job.

Presenting the Start-a-Business 101 Modules

Each module will guide you in logical order throughout the entire process of starting your business.

Within each module you will get our short, easy-to-follow videos. These videos will explain in simple, clear language exactly what to do at each step.

Plus each module contains companion tools such as worksheets, templates, checklists and samples.

Let me give you an example.

To create a one page business plan you will get a video explaining how to create your plan. 

You will also get a sample of a completed plan. 

Plus you will get a template complete with instructions.

 Just fill-in the template and presto! – you have your completed one page business plan. 

Start-a-Business 101 gives you lifetime access to all course materials.

Start-a-Business 101 Modules

#1. How to get started with your business

#2. Discover hundreds of great business ideas

#3. How to choose the best business idea for you

#4. How to validate your business idea

#5. Find the perfect name for your business

#6. How to choose the best legal entity for your business

#7. How to create a powerful competitive advantage

#8. How to create your business plan

#9. How to do your accounting and financial statements

#10. How to get the money you need to start your business

#11. How to create your marketing and and attract customers

#12. How to build your online marketing presence

#13. How to make sales and land your first customers

#14. The Small Business Toolkit

#15. The Discussion Board

Each module is filled with videos and companion tools to show you exactly how to start your business.

Watch this sample video

Start a Business 101 also gives you the Small Business Toolkit section.

The Small Business Toolkit pulls together in one place for your convenience all 46 tools that are found in all of the other modules. 

The tools include worksheets, templates, samples, checklists and case studies. 

Plus, you will get my 100-page ebook The 300 Best Small Business Ideas. 

This ebook will give you my favorite and most proven business ideas along with my comments on each one. 

You’ll get dozens of great business ideas in each of these categories: 

Home business ideas 

Low cost ideas 

Highest profit ideas 

Part time ideas 

Online ideas 

Easy-to-start ideas 

Steady income ideas

 Fun business ideas 

Even if you already have a business idea in mind, you just might find one you like more here. 

You will also get my Ultimate Checklist to Starting a Business. 

This 100-point 14-page checklist covers just about everything you need to do to start a business, along with my advice on each step. 

This checklist will be your constant companion as you plan and start your business. 

It will keep you organised, on track, and save you a lot of time. 

I think you will find this checklist alone is worth the price of the entire course. 

All of the tools may be viewed online, downloaded and/or printed.

Looking for personal advice? 

Our modules are going to give just about everything you need to know to start a business. 

However, you might have a few questions that you need personal advice on. I’ve got you covered! 

You will have access to our private Discussion Board where I will personally answer any business question you might have.

What you need to know to succeed in business

What people are saying…

 I found great value in the BusinessTown courses. The program is comprehensive, covering everything…It’s like having a team of experienced advisors available 24 x 7.

Dan Sterling –  Founder, Water Hero

 You so inspired me that I started a business and have started receiving orders. Your lecture series about how to pick a business to start really got me going after I followed your steps to a tee. Thanks so much!

Bill Bennett – Business Owner

   Having run across your videos was a godsend to me. Your method provides me the structure I need to be successful. I am willing to put in the work to go through your complete course which so far has been incredibly helpful.

Phyllis Marks – Starting an Online Business

 I have researched the marketplace for over a month to identify a viable and comprehensive ‘go-to’ guide on how to best launch a small business. This course offering from Bob Adams met more than what I was looking for.

Steve Cox – Experienced Businessman

 Bob has been a close friend and trusted business adviser of mine for years… guiding me through the challenges we all face as entrepreneurs. Hands down Bob is one of the most talented, and successful entrepreneurs I know. Thanks Bob!

Matt Marshall – Founder, MGM Capital Investments

Frequently Asked Questions

When does the course start and finish?

This online course is completely self-paced – you decide when you start and when you finish.

How long do I have access to the course?

After enrolling, you have unlimited access to this course for as long as you like – across any and all devices you own.

What if I am unhappy with the course?

If you are unsatisfied with the course for any reason, please contact us within 60 days and we will give you a full refund, no questions asked.

What are the course requirements?

This course is for anyone thinking about starting a business. You don’t need to have any previous business experience whatsoever. Even if you have business experience, you will discover a vast amount of powerful new ideas that will help propel your business ahead.

Can I download any of the content?

Of course! All the worksheets, case studies, samples, and templates are downloadable.

You can start a business you love! And live the life of your dreams!

Start-a-Business 101 is the fastest and easiest way to learn how to start a business and become a knowledgeable and successful entrepreneur.

Start-a-Business 101 is a complete proven program that will take you step-by-step through your entire startup journey.

You will get…

  Easy-to-follow videos

  Ready-to-use tools

  Discussion board

  Inside advice

  Proven strategies

  Complete lifetime access

In just a few minutes a day, you will learn how to start your own business.

Try Start-a-Business 101 Risk-Free for 60 days

If you don’t love it, we’ll give you a 100% hassle-free refund.

There is no risk in trying this course.

The big risk here is not taking this course.

You will be losing out on the best, most proven advice and strategies for starting your own business.

And you probably will never take action and become the entrepreneur you’ve always wanted to be.

Why can I offer this incredible guarantee?

I know this is the best advice on starting a business available today.

It’s based on my vast experience starting successful businesses of all types and all sizes.

Also I know that you are almost certainly going to love this course and find it to be extremely valuable In starting your business.

And if by any chance you don’t love this course, I will happily give you a 100% refund.

BUSINESSTOWN’S #1 BEST SELLING COURSE:

Start-a-Business 101

Learn how to start your own business

Full Lifetime Access 

60-Day 100% Money-Back Guarantee

Only $19.95

Start-a-Business 101 is only open for a limited time.

Get on board now if you want to make sure you don’t miss out.

Questions? Email bbisson@businesstown.com