No matter how you look at it, starting a business is hard. One of the hardest things you may ever have to do. There’s the business plan to think over, a name, government policies to consider, how it will affect your family, finances and the list rolls on from there. Some hardened entrepreneurs suggest spending a long time thinking about if that’s really the path you want to take. If so, there is plenty of advice floating around to help you with the grueling journey. Entrepreneurs are always willing to lend their words to the younger generation of business seekers and give them assistance when the time comes. Below we have asked entrepreneurs for their best business advice.
1) Find a Sizable Niche
Given the reach of the internet, catering to a niche market can mean big sales growth if done well. Start by focusing on a niche market you know that can be served better. Make sure the market is large enough and that you can serve those customers better than the alternative. Large companies won't focus on niche markets so there is room to compete and exceed customer expectations.
Thanks to Jessica McCafferty, Janice McCafferty PR!
2) Testing & Fail Fast
Two things. Never stop testing and learn how to fail fast! When you test different ways of doing things you learn a lot about what makes your company preform better. Without constant testing you grow stagnant. Second, fail fast. When you get good at failing fast you minimize the severity of the failure. Embrace the fail and learn from it. But learn fast. If you dwell on the negative without moving forward you lose momentum.
Thanks to Stephan Goss, Zeeto!
Focus is the one of the most important characteristics of any entrepreneurs success. If you are not hyper-focused on a daily basis you are going to have a difficult time succeeding. Entrepreneurs tend to take on too many projects at once, ultimately leading to a ineffective use of time and resources. This will ultimately hamper your ability to excel within your idea.
Thanks to Michael Dash, CarPartKings.com!
4) Track Expenditures
Track every single expenditure! There are several ways to do it effectively and simplify it, but you need a system in place to make sure nothing gets through the cracks. The most fluid way I've come up with is to have a single account which makes all your purchases. This bank account or credit card can then be tied to something like Mint, or better yet, QuickBooks so you have a monthly itemized list of everything you bought. For medium to larger business, have all your recurring payments going through one account so you can monitor any changes, and have another for those unforeseen expenditures or payments of varying amounts. So many people focus on the amount of revenue they're pulling in, but rarely monitor the expenses closely enough. The icing on the top is when tax time comes; everything is already neat and in order, your reconciliation will be a piece of cake, and you have everything in one place in the event you're being audited. For bonus points, have all monthly statements sent to you via email, and send them all a Dropbox or other cloud-based server for safe keeping and backup.
Thanks to Jason Fisher, BestLifeRates.org!
4) Don't Stop
My best tip to entrepreneurs is to never stop doing what you enjoy but always require compensation for it. Entrepreneurs forget that they need to be well compensated for their talents and expertise. Too often they give it away for free or think they should to get the business. Don't ever forget you became an entrepreneur to share your wealth in the form of knowledge not charity.
Thanks to Valerie Jennings, Jennings Social Media Marketing!
5) Ask Questions
My best business tip is understanding that you do not have to know everything. The best thing as an entrepreneur you can do is know the right people to ask the questions to. I feel that too often we think we should do everything or control everything but not only is that not realistic but it is not the best way to maximize return on investment. Have a network of people that you know you can reach out to when you are not sure of something or need advice. Make sure this relationship is two way and that you have found a way to help in return. Simple as it sounds, make sure to thank them. There is certainly something to be said for it is not what you know but who you know. Create that network.
Thanks to Margo Schlossberg, Warrior Princess Clothing Company!
6) Know Every Aspect of your Business
I have young entrepreneurs ask me for advice, especially at conferences and events, and the one thing I really try to stress to them is to know every aspect of your business. It’s not enough to have a great idea—the idea must be a 24/7 mission for you and instead of automatically wanting to outsource everything you need to get down in the trenches yourself. Otherwise you’ll never have a true understanding of your own business. I also tell them that they must have goals for the business that are beyond making money. Having a passion will drive you harder than wanting a paycheck.
Thanks to Geoff Gross, Medical Guardian!
7) Big Names & Not Always Big Results
You see a an impressive resume and think, “Wow, look at the big names he/she has worked for!” Big names do not equate to big results for you. Make sure who you are hiring can work within your structure and your available resources. And when it comes to their list of accomplishments, ask which results and projects they were personally responsible, how exactly did they accomplish it and how would they replicate it in your organization. Most importantly, don't always assume you want someone from within your industry. Same industry can often result in the same results everyone else in getting. Consider similar industries that have traits that can provide a good understanding of yours but also bring a fresh perspective.
Thanks to Kristen McAlister, Cerius Executives!
8) Tell Your Story Well
Learn how to tell your story well, and learn how to tell it across a broad array of media. The best businesses incorporate both ‘purple cow' products that are inherently interesting or disruptive and compelling founders' stories. In the case of Do Amore, clearly our story of providing folks in underdeveloped countries with clean water is a great story immediately. But our founder, Krish, has also had to learn how to tell his story as well.
Thanks to Alex Birkett, Do Amore!
9) Pursue Your Dreams
Every successful business owner started out as a newbie. Don't let others intimidate you from following your dreams. When I started my own clothing business I knew little to nothing about the apparel business. My ambition and determination lead me to learn every aspect about this business. The best business advise I can give is to start a business with your our personal interest or passion. If you love what you do you will never work a day in your life.
Thanks to Lisa Chu, Black N Bianco!
10) Want it More Than Anything
My advice is don't start a business unless you WANT IT more than anything. Determination is the key to success; having a relentless passion towards executing the goals you've set will decide whether you're successful. I started Window Genie when I was 29 years old and already tired of “working for the man.” I wanted SO badly to be my own boss so I made it happen because I was determined to make it happen, not because I was an expert in small business ownership or window cleaning. Everything else falls into place if you wake up every day excited & determined, so going into a business venture you're not whole-heartedly committed to can be detrimental while enduring all the aspects of building and scaling a business.
Thanks to Rik Nonelle, Window Genie!
11) Define Success
My best business tip to help entrepreneurs and business owners find success is for them to define success for themselves. Often, we have society's views of success in mind when we set out to achieve it. Then, we arrive and find that we don't feel all that successful at all. We've either sacrificed the other parts of our life by working way too many hours or we've steered our business based on what we think we are supposed to want. Even if that means outward success, we won't feel successful internally. When you can match up what you really want with the way you run your business, that's when you find true success.
Thanks to Erin Baebler, Moms Mean Business!
12) Passion, Plan & Power
Start with passion, a plan, and power. Above all else, you have to be passionate. If you're not passionate about your ideas, you're never going to be successful. From there, you've got to have a plan. How will you breathe life into your passion? Lastly, you must have the power to push forward when others are pushing back. Because they will. You must be ready to say yes when they are saying no. To overcome obstacles when the odds are stacked against you. Passion is the car that takes you to the end of the journey. A plan is the steering wheel that guides you around those obstacles. The power? That's the gas in the tank. If you have all three, you're on the road to success.
Thanks to Brenton Hayden, Board of Renters Warehouse!
13) Create Multiple Revenue Streams and Retainer Clients
This is my best business tip because I wish I had learned this 7 years ago when I first started my business. As the owner of a web design company our business model focused primarily on getting new projects, which kept us on a constant hunt for new clients. My business started to grow once I started offering additional services to my existing client base, and it eliminated the feast to famine cycle that so many business owners are faced with. In addition, transitioning to a retainer model became an instant revenue booster for the business. More importantly, I’m able to sleep better at night knowing that at the start of each month I already have “x” amount of revenue coming in from my retainer clients instead of just focusing on one-off projects.
Thanks to Nicole McCullum, Captivate Designs!
14) Listen to Your Customers
Your customers are always telling you what they want. It's in the questions they ask, the tweets they post, the comments they leave—or don't—on your blog. They're telling you in the phone calls you have with them, in the emails they write to you, and in the open rates of the emails you send to them. Your only job is to listen. And I mean really, truly listen. Because when you give your customers what they want, you'll never struggle in business.
Thanks to Lauren Vanessa Zink, Queen of Copy Clarity!
Understand the strategies needed to sell yourself, your product or service and your business. The first step is to understand the responses you want or need from buyers to pinpoint problems and solutions. Then, working backwards, create a list of open-ended questions that will open dialogue between you and your buyer. Open-end question allow the buyer to share what his thoughts. Go at least three questions deep to discover recognized and unrecognized needs. When you're in a sales conversation, get out of your own head and into the buyer's shoes. This means zapping any swirling thoughts about you in your head. Many times, business owners allow their desperation or nervousness for a sale show. By stepping into what the buyer wants, you will focus on his needs, listen to his problems and be able to match the right solution.
Thanks to Mj Callaway, Rock More Sales!