Starting your own business is no small feat, and there’s much to learn from those who came before. Consider these tips for entrepreneurial success.
Starting your own business can be one of the most exhilarating pursuits of a lifetime. You’re exploring the opportunity to do something you love — and get paid for it — but you’re also taking a huge risk in terms of future comfort and security. No budding entrepreneur can ignore the sobering statistics about how hard it is to get a new business off the ground. But if you plan carefully and consider the most important aspects ahead of time, starting your own business could prove to be the best thing you’ve ever done.
Here are eight things to consider before taking the entrepreneurial leap:
1. Think About Your Family
Running a business — but especially starting a new business — takes an enormous toll on a person’s time, energy, bank account and family life. As part of your preliminary thinking, acknowledge how much time you’re likely to spend on the new enterprise. “Understanding your time commitments ahead of time will help minimize the stress on both you and your family,” says veteran entrepreneur Nellie Akalp.
2. Learn How to Prioritize
You’ll be tempted to take on every new responsibility and request in order to help your fledgling business, but it’s more important to prioritize activities, determining what’s most important to get done first every day. Author and investor Brandon Turner adds that you shouldn’t fritter away time and resources on small stuff like designing logos and business cards.
3. Consider a Partner — If Needed
Is this new business something that’s best explored with an able partner by your side? In many cases, two heads are better than one, provided the head belonging to your prospective partner is fully aligned with your goals and plans.
4. Take a Frugal Approach
No matter what you estimate, initial costs for starting your own business will be more than you think. Take care not to overspend on business-related necessities, while also looking for ways to cut back on bells and whistles you really don’t need.
5. Adopt a “Get Paid Quickly” Mindset
Too many embryonic businesses get trapped in a limbo, when their new clients are slow to pay for work done. Establish parameters with clients whereby you are paid promptly for your services (or, when appropriate, paid at least partially in advance). You’ll need the money sooner, rather than later. In the same regard, look closely at the projects awaiting you and focus on those with the greatest financial return. This will help cash flow, the non-negotiable lifeblood of your new business.
6. Be Creative About Funding
If your great business idea truly has merit, you’re well-positioned to get others to help fund the venture. Start working your professional network to find angel investors, while also exploring opportunities available through crowdfunding sources.
Banks are a logical source of funding, but even if you have other promising funding sources, establish a relationship with a local bank now. “Going to the bank when you are penniless puts you in a vulnerable position,” notes business writer Ed Lieber. “It’s better to get the paperwork done early so you can commence building important relationships well in advance of when you’ll need to leverage them.”
7. Get Help
You may think you can do it all yourself, but others who have tried and failed will tell you otherwise. Acknowledge areas of business operations where you can use help and explore the many online resources for freelance assistance. Whether it’s marketing, bookkeeping or web design, there are talented consultants out there who will be happy to assist you for a reasonable fee.
8. Get the Word Out
It’s never too early to start promoting your new enterprise — including today. You should tell everyone about the new business, including friends, family members, business contacts and high school friends you’ve connected with on Facebook. You never know where this kind of grassroots marketing will take you.
Recognizing the high costs of marketing and advertising, think about approaching a local non-profit or charity with whom you can work. When it’s a cause close to your heart, you’ll not only be doing good work, but potential customers will appreciate how you give back to the community.
Finally, recognize early on that with all there is to do, you will still need to take time off at some point down the road. Too many new businesses have failed because the owner simply burned out. Anticipate the need to spend a few days away from the venture so you can recharge and hit the ground running the day after tomorrow.