Interested in starting your own entrepreneurial journey but unsure what to expect? Then read up on our interview with Jeff Bush, Professional Speaker at BSignificant, LLC. (The Washington Update), located in Tulsa, OK, USA.
What's your business, and who are your customers?
I speak professionally and consult business executives, industry associations, high-net-worth investors, financial professionals, CPAs, and tax attorney's on what changes they can anticipate from our federal government around taxation, legislation, and regulation in a very non-partisan format. I point fingers at everyone!
Tell us about yourself
Actually, it was a failed first entrepreneurial experience that gave me the confidence I needed to go all in. I made an investment in a start-up manufacturer, but I was still working 70 hours/week at my corporate job. The business failed due to poor partnership vetting and a lack of my oversight. This failure taught me I had to be all in or all out. After a widely varied corporate career, including being a skip tracer, underwriter, professional salesperson, and Wall Street executive, I was ready. I had always wanted to be my own boss believing if someone was willing to pay me $XX as a W-2 employee, my actual worth was multiple what I was being paid. The timing was finally right in 2011, and I leaped. I was ready to be "all in."
I have a great passion for helping audiences understand the complex and sometimes confusing things coming out of D.C. My greatest reward is when an audience member says to me they finally understand a topic and, more importantly, how to use the information to improve their businesses.
What motivates me is that my business is a zero-failure model. I have to perform every time, regardless of the circumstances. I've presented with food poisoning, day trips to Europe with a dinner in New York City that same night, travel issues, less-than-optimal venues, and technical difficulties, just to name a few.
What's your biggest accomplishment as a business owner?
A friend once told me, "Being your own boss is a part-time job. Pick any 12 hours you want." I would balance that statement with, "If you love what you do, you'll never work a day in your life." Since 2011, yes, the hours have been long, but I haven't had to work a single day. I love what I do, and it shows on stage. Whether addressing a group of 20 or 10,000, I get the same buzz from being on stage and sharing my insights. But, it's the untold hours I put into my preparation for the 1-hour stage times that make it work. On average, I present over 200 times per year.
My biggest accomplishment and what I love the most about my business is that I have to prove myself every single time I take the stage. There's no net, no second chances. I take great pride in being rehired as soon as I walk off stage. That's the good thing about politics and taxes, they are always changing, and D.C. is the gift that keeps on giving. Personally, we accomplished our goal of having more control over our time and family life; I got to be the dad on all the school field trips, dissecting sharks, and participating in my kid's scouting and sports.
What's one of the hardest things that come with being a business owner?
Without the structure of a job description in a corporate role, it's easy to get distracted. I've always been very curious, and it's easy to get infatuated by the idea of the day. I had to bring some accountability structure into my workflow to keep my eye on the prize. I know what seven activities I have to do every day to be successful, and I don't let a day go by that I don't tick those things off. I am also a creature of habit, so that helps.
What are the top tips you'd give to anyone looking to start, run and grow a business today?
- Be realistic. Everything will take longer, be more expensive, and be harder than your entrepreneurial mind assumes. Will your model work on 50% less in actual sales? Will it work if your costs are 30% more than you expect? Can your business survive if it takes 50% longer to build than you anticipate?
- Be accountable. Find someone, even if you don't think you need it, to be accountable. Having someone who cares enough about you to be honest, not cheerleading, is invaluable. Somewhat tangential, know what you are good at and what you are not. Hire your weaknesses; it will be the best money you spend.
- Have fun. If your business isn't something you are passionate about, find something else to do. The challenges are tough, and sometimes your enjoyment of the work is all you have to push through the difficult times. Being a keynote and on-stage speaker, COVID blew up my business model. My entire year was canceled within three weeks of everything shutting down. Within the next three weeks, I poured my energy into learning the virtual platforms, investing in quality virtual equipment, rearranged my office to make it more presentable as a backdrop for virtual and TV spots, and revamped my presentation to be more effective in the one-way virtual environment and began re-engaging my clients in this new medium. It quickly grew, and soon I was reaching more audiences than is physically possible in an in-person format. Six months later, just in the month of October, I had 93 1-hour webinars. 2020 ended as a decent year for me. While not as lucrative as an in-person meeting, I made up for it in volume with over 350 webinars delivered between April and December. By being flexible, I had the resources to invest in ramping up quickly as in-person meetings once again started.
Is there anything else you'd like to share?
The biggest regret my wife and I have is that we didn't make the entrepreneurial jump much earlier. We had opportunities in our 20s. But, we let "fear of failing" or not being "successful" hold us back. What was the worst thing that would have happened, moving into our parent's basement? Perhaps we would be in a better position financially today had we made a move then. Still, I realize it was my cumulative career experiences that created the opportunity I'm benefiting from today. If you are reading this article, you are somewhere on the continuum of your decision-making process. I encourage you to make the jump. There is never a perfect time, but there is the right time. I hope this is the right time for you.
Where can people find you and your business?
If you like what you've read here and have your own story as a solo or small business entrepreneur that you'd like to share, then please answer these interview questions. We'd love to feature your journey on these pages.
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