At our sold-out Adam Street Club event last night, ex-Dragon Doug Richard shared his no-bullshit take on starting up businesses. If you’re considering starting a creative business, his School for Creative Startups is accepting applications until July 1st – click here for more info on how you can access mentoring, loans, and training from the man himself. You can also check out his book here.

I really enjoyed last night. I’d heard Doug speak before and he never fails to remind me that things can be really simple if you dare to be painfully honest.

For those of you who couldn’t be there, I scribbled down some quotes from him on my phone:

“The key questions you should be asking when you start up a business: what problem are you solving or what desire are you fulfilling? Will what you’re creating solve that problem?”

“I don’t believe in commitment. I believe in interest. I stay interested and that commits me.”

“Almost everything in business is about what you don’t do, not what you do do.”

Every business needs three people: someone who can sell, someone who can deliver, and someone who can count. No one’s more than one. And if you’re confused about which one you are, that’s a separate issue.”

(The one who can sell often tends to be gregarious, likes making a point, and trusts there’s someone with a basket behind them to catch the leads; the deliverer finds joy in pulling the process together and putting the thing on; the counter tends to be analytical and likes a puzzle to pull apart.)

“With social business – it’s still a business. You start with the business, not the mission.”

Money costs money.”

(Loans come with interest rates, investment comes with equity promises. Grant applications have a significant time cost, as does putting up a Kickstarter campaign – you’re sinking your time in, your time costs something, and ideally you’re creating advance customers, but there’s an element of risk.)

Pricing is a discovery process. You have to find out how much the pain is costing someone. Then you charge less than that, to solve that pain.”

“How do you create a sustainable business? You have to do something better than others do it – that creates your advantage.”

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