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 – Follow the Money
One of the biggest tips I can offer an aspiring entrepreneur is to follow the money; it's what enables you to continue building on success after success. Let's say you've got a great idea. Instead of wasting money and time developing a website, looking at offices to hire, or spending weeks writing your business plan, take your product (or your concept) and go land three paying customers. Three is a magic number, even if you're only reaching out to your network and friends, because securing three sales will prove there's actually a market for the solution you're planning. That's when you know you're on to something, and it's time to start building your business.
Thanks to Travis Bennett , Studio Digita
#2 – Website Investment
Invest in a proper website from the start. A website is often the first impression of your business, particularly if you operate from a virtual or home-based office. I'm guilty of using a free, self-build site for the first few years and strongly advise against that. I am aware of the saying, you can't judge a book by its cover but even more so, you never get a second chance to make a first impression has more weight when it comes to branding, marketing and representing you/your business.
Thanks to Melissa St. Clair, Paper Chaser
#3 – Believe
Do you have a business idea? How much do you really believe in it? If someone were to knock your idea, what would you do? What about your logo? The name of your company? Or your general business idea? If your best friend tried to dissuade you, would you remain solid in your idea? Or would you start doubting yourself? Why is my business growing? Why are people talking about my idea and wanting to learn more? Why is my community thriving? Because *I* believe in it. I live and breathe my business idea – a simple, easy-to-remember, and effective way to get unstuck and promote emotional well-being. I apply it in my life every day, several times a way. Because I believe in it, others believe in it, too. BELIEF will take you a long way!
Thanks to Shira Gura, The S.T.U.C.K. Method
#4 – Learn to Delegate
Starting your own company, you are 100% hands on to every aspect of the company. For me, I was the only person doing everything! From creating the LLC, to designing my brand, logo, website, finding new clients, managing the client workload and of course, the billing and taxes that come along with business ownership. As a company grows it can be tough to release control and hire others to take on tasks for your baby but the best tip I received is to DELEGATE work and trust someone will be able to do as great of a job as you can. This in turn gives me room to focus on expanding the company and the future successes.
Thanks to Whitney Moerings, White Water Agency
#5 – Confidence and Drive
First and foremost, starting a business takes an innate persistence, confidence, drive and a simple refusal to be stopped. This has to be based in intelligence though – meaning you don't just keep pushing a bad business idea forward. You need to have the instinct to know both what is a good idea to pursue – and when it is suddenly no longer such a good idea to continue pursuing. Beyond this, once you have a winning idea and begin growing, you will need to have great structure and organization within your team. This will take shape in the development and implementation of winning processes and workflows that your people can execute. Oh yeah – and don't forget to create an awesome culture from the start! Everyone should love coming to work for you!
Thanks to Brett Hanson, BroadbandSearch.net
#6 – Measure Metrics
The best business advice I ever received is to measure the metrics that matter. We started gathering data at Doubledot Media early in its existence, but we could have started even earlier. No other company is precisely like your own, so there's no better data for planning improvements than your own. The book ‘Lean Analytics,' by Alistair Croll and Benjamin Yoskovitz, is a tremendous resource for discovering which data is worth collecting and analyzing.
Thanks to Simon Slade, SaleHoo
#7 – Build a System
For most business owners, there’s a giant gap between what we EXPECTED running our own business would be like and what it’s REALLY like. My advice? Stop building a job. Don’t simply assume that you’ll beat the competition by the sweat of your brow, because it’s likely that you’re focusing on the wrong things. You will never perform enough services or sell enough gadgets to build a business because those things have nothing to do with business building. Rather, I encourage young entrepreneurs to create systems. By building systems you are able to offer consistency in the products or services you deliver, even after the system is delegated.
Thanks to Landon Ray, ONTRAPORT
#8 – Open to Perspective
As an entrepreneur, passionate about my business, I know I was a tellaholic, wanting to control everything so I could create success in my business. I told everyone what to do because after all I knew best…….didn’t I? Well, truth be told, I quickly learned I didn’t. Others had lots of wisdom to share with me about what I was doing and when I was curious as they shared their perspective, their experience I became clear on how I wanted to do what I wanted. This didn’t mean I did what I was told, rather I was able to connect their ideas with mine and create something that was more effective. I also learned that others didn’t like to be told what to do. They also preferred to be curious around what I had to say and come to their own conclusions. I have now replaced telling with being open and curious to the ideas of myself and others.
Thanks to Kathy Taberner, Institute of Curiosity
#9 – Three Principles
Building and growing a successful company can be narrowed down to three key principles. First, employ the right people. Find professionals who know their craft and can be relied on to provide expert recommendations, make sound decisions, and execute the strategic business plans. Second, create a unique value proposition and evaluate and iterate it continually. Create innovative solutions that always validate your unique value. Lastly, share the wealth. If you are willing to provide your team with financial rewards and align them with good performance, amazing things can happen. The pie actually gets bigger. Some call this the abundance theory. I call it the right way to do business.
Thanks to Mike Cameron, Christopherson Business Travel
#10 – Invest in Community
Even if your business reaches further than your immediate neighborhood, make sure to invest in the city and local businesses where you work. Go to industry nights, network to help others, and support the universities and schools. You will be surprised with the amount of word-of-mouth traffic that comes back to your company if you generally care about the local business community. Furthermore, you may even make a few unique partnerships that would have been lost without that local connection. Above all, have fun with your community involvement and be creative!
Thanks to Elizabeth Jenkins, Source Capital Funding, Inc.
#11 – Test Advertising
Many business owners pump tonnes of money into advertising and don't know whether it returns the investment or not, or how it can bring even more returns! For instance, if you're running a classified ad, do you know if it performs at all? Do you know how you can make it perform better? Recreate variations of the ad: Same ad, but with 30 different headlines; same ad but with a guarantee worded 30 different ways; same ad without a guarantee; same ad with 30 different calls to action; same ad but without graphics; same ad but with 30 different graphics; test test test. Test each one, one by one, and see which performs best. When you get the headline that performs best, test again with your call to action, then your guarantee, then your graphics, one by one by one. Eventually, by taking each of the best performing sections, you'll come up with an incredible ad that out-performs any other ad in the paper.
Thanks to Tim Rich
#12 – Invest in People
Your most valuable asset is not hardware, software, of even your product, but the human beings that keep the wheels turning. When we forget that people are making it all happen, this is when the business gets bogged down and cannot progress at an optimal rate of return. With that said, I firmly believe that employee turnover is one of the biggest pitfalls of building a successful business. We know the costs of hiring and training, but even more so, turnover puts a drain on the the staff and breaks the human momentum. Eventually turnover can create a domino affect, like a bad apple that spoils the whole bunch. Jack Welch, in his book, Winning spoke on this, and it was something I always knew, so it rang true for me. I've found that as I continue to invest in my people, as people, the return is great. We all need to know we're more than just a paycheck, and this can be achieved in the simplest of ways, on a daily basis. Whether it's giving a personal day beyond the legal mandate, an impromptu lunch, or just an encouraging word at the water cooler, it says You matter to this business.. Through this, we've been able to build a very loyal team, a great business, and we enjoy celebrating success together.
Thanks to Nedalee Thomas, Chanson Water
#13 – Daily Goals
Write down and read your affirmations and goals daily. I learned that if you read something over and over again, your subconscious mind will believe in it and bring it to life. I recommend that entrepreneurs go to a quite place out in nature and write down their goals. Connecting to Spirit and making Spirit your partner helps to manifest goals and the right circumstances a lot easier than trying to figure things out from your mind. The Infinite can create things far better and quicker than we can – it’s because the Infinite operates through wisdom.
Thanks to Gwen Keefe, Poli Sippy Cups
#14 – Develop People Skills
Develop your people skills. No matter what industry you end up in, you have to be good with people to be successful. You have to network, and networking requires people skills. So my suggestion is to do whatever it takes to develop your people skills. You could try getting a sales job at a busy retailer or a coffee shop. You could take a theater class. If you're an introvert like me and you can't see yourself in those high pressure social situations, you could start with baby steps. You could say hello to strangers. Start getting out of your social comfort zone. Anything that helps you create and maintain relationships with people is good.
Thanks to Andrew Reeves, Luxe Translation
#15 – A Small Team
Build what you can with a small team and figure out everything you can; customer value proposition, technology, business plan, IP, before you take any VC investment. Staying small keeps you focused, and avoids wasting money. If you’ve worked in a lavish environment this will be difficult, but be frugal and minimalist until you have everything figured out. Then, take some investment when you’re truly ready to go big.
Thanks to Bill Mitchell, PicoBrew