When I started Ideal Project Group back at the end of 2006, I received what is probably some of the best business advice I have ever received - don't define yourself by your liabilities. I had (and still have) the good fortune of knowing Stephen Neish, CFO for Voxeo Corporation and he warned me that too often businesses believe it's their liabilities that make them legitimate. He explained that he had seen countless organizations spend hundreds of thousands of dollars on everything from leather couches to flat screens to servers that could provide capacity they probably wouldn't need for years - all in an attempt to legitimize themselves.
Three years later, being more profitable than General Motors, Bank of America, Citibank and a host of other zombie corporations littering our economic landscape, I'm glad I listened to his advice and thought I should pass it along.
The reality is, profits are what make you legitimate.
If you're thinking of starting a business, or have one already, allow your profits and your assets to be your guiding light - not your liabilities. Thinking of starting a web development firm? Do you really need office space right now or can you work out of a public library with free Wi-Fi? Want to open a restaurant? Do you really need a score of $2,000 flat panels? Opening a boutique retail shop? Is it necessary to spend $20,000 or more on hardwood floors?
Now, during the course of identifying yourself by your profits and not your liabilities there will be those who attempt to diminish you and/or your company. Why? Because it's very easy for people to see your liabilities; it's not so easy for them to see your profits.
I cannot count the number of times someone has tried to belittle the company I am building. You just have to be willing to shrug it off keeping only one thing in mind - anyone that tries to diminish you or your business because you don't have more liabilities is almost certain never to have started their own company. It's also helpful to remember it's a lot easier to tell someone else how they should spend their money than it is to spend it yourself.
Don't define yourself by your liabilities. Good luck; and may your profits allow you to succeed.