7MS #297: How to Succeed in Business Without Really Crying

Below are show notes for an episode of the 7 Minute Security podcast, a weekly podcast I publish that focuses on topics such as penetration testing, network configuration, blue-teaming and career advice. I welcome you to subscribe in your favorite podcast app so you don't miss an episode!

Intro

Hey! So back in episode 287 I talked about how I was upgrading 7 Minute Security and turning it into an LLC. Since then I've gotten a lot of questions like "Hey, how do I start my own security company? What's it cost? How do you find business? Are you living in your mom's basement, or has 7MS found some success?" I try to live like an open book, so I talk about this and more on today's episode!

Here's some of the "juice" that has helped 7MS have a successful start:

Support system

Ok so I think if you're going to have a successful business, you need an awesome support system. Mine consists of some of these things:

  • Faith - I'm a Christian and pray about this business constantly. In fact I learned really quickly how easy it is to brag about your rock-solid faith when everything is going fine. And then when suddenly the rug is pulled out from under you, you find what your faith is really made of!

  • My wife - she's my biggest supporter and cheerleader. There was a moment a couple weeks ago where I was just frustrated with a bunch of big deals that were pending, and communication had kind of gone silent. That same day I was also offered a really attractive full-time position. I came home that night tired and headachy and frustrated and whined to my wife that maybe it would just be easier to take a full time job I wasn't 100% happy with - just so I could have the predictable salary again. She heard me out and then basically said "Hey, I love you, but suck it up! Nobody said this was going to be easy. Keep at it, I support you, you've got a great support system, and you'll succeed." And I kid you not, 24 hours later, three deals had closed and I felt like a champion.

  • Financial advisor - we have a great "money guy" who helped us plan for moments like these, where income might be slower as I drum up business.

  • Trusted advisors - I'm blessed to have a partner called InteProIQ that has been a sounding board for a zillion and one questions. Everything from helping me quote projects and set hourly rates to marketing plans and connecting me with other business owners and contacts.

General "get your business started" stuff

  • Form your LLC - I just Googled how to do it, and found a bunch of articles with good info. Basically I found my state's Web site hierarchy and within that was a place to register the LLC and grab an EIN for tax purposes.

  • Bank accounts - I visited my local banker and setup work checking/savings/etc.

Tech tools to help you get the job done

  • Quickbooks - I use this to keep track of expenses, send out quotes, reconcile invoices, etc.

  • Expensify - I use it to track receipts and mileage. They even give you an email address where you can forward receipts to and it'll work it's awesome OCR magic to automatically extract the vendor, charge and date. Awesome!

  • Toggl - a free Web interface (and app) to track time for projects (if the client doesn't already have something they want me to use)

  • Smartsheets - I use this both as a project management tool that clients can view and collaborate with me on, and as a big todo list of leads to follow up on.

  • Office 365 - I use it for all my email, calendar and storage needs.

  • Squarespace - I use them as a Web host. Yes I realize I could run a Digital Ocean droplet for $5/mo or some other hosting platform for 5 cents a year, but I want to completely offload all the uptime/updates and security to a reputable host with a great reputation. Squarespace has been awesome in that respect.

Audio