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 – Learn to Sell
My best advice to business owners would be: to learn how to sell you own product. Relying too heavily of methods that are not 100% controlled by the business owner can lead to sticky situations. The best way to learn how to sell your product would be by simply understanding why your clients would buy the product in the first place and from there, the rest is simple, you need to work backwards from there.
Thanks to Ali Mirza, Rose Garden Consulting
#2 – Examine Your Strengths
New business owners should examine their personal strengths, understand what they are good at in their business, acknowledge the tasks the business owner does not want to perform, and find assistance to close those gaps. The key to growing a business is to find professional help to assist new business owners in success with those who have experience is solving problems for you. It is costly to make mistakes in areas that owners are not strong and can stop the business from its success and growth. Hire bookkeepers, accountants, lawyers, and consultants. It can relieve stress and solve problems before they happen.
Thanks to Ray McKenzie, Red Beach Advisors
#3 – Learn to Pivot
One of the biggest challenges I ever came across was learning to pivot. When you go years as a freelancer and suddenly have a lightbulb moment, you don’t notice your change as a pivot. Nope, you see it as something like “damn I’m smart, I’ll make a killing with this.” You see you, you see nothing else. You don’t factor in things as simple as supporting your own family, much less supporting someone else’s family. The same applies if you are working for someone else and then decide to do “it” all on your own. I believe that every entrepreneur should plan and forecast that moment of pivoting. Planning and launching with the mindset of helping employees and help from the start not only paints a bigger picture but also helps you make smooth transitions.
Thanks to Benjamin Surman, Fortis
#4 – Automate Processes
Automate as many of your day-to-day business processes as you can. It's surprising just how much of your day you will spend answering emails, managing marketing, dealing with payroll, taxes, and all the other small things that come with running a business. Tools like IFTTT and Zapier can help automate regular tasks, and apps like online accounting software make it much easier to stay on top of your invoicing, expenses, and accounting. You want to make sure you use your time as efficiently as possible to grow your business, so spending a little extra time now automating common tasks will really pay off later.
Thanks to Paul Maplesden
#5 – Watch Every Dollar
My advice to an aspiring entrepreneur is to watch every single dollar you spend, and find a way to bootstrap instead. Instead of renting out a fancy office, work from home until you've built the revenue streams that will cover a new office. Go with secondhand furniture first, and seek ways that you can do-it-yourself. Use a website builder instead of hiring a developer. Man your store yourself and learn the ropes before hiring staff. Your first iteration doesn't need to be perfect, what you need to focus on is ensuring you're able to win new clients and retain their business, and only then, should you start investing back into your business.
Thanks to Travis Bennett, Studio Digita
#6 – Stay Focused
Focus. Narrow in on something you're passionate about and do that one thing really well. Don't let yourself get distracted by day-to-day sidelines, nuisances and temptations. Delegate or outsource the things you are less passionate about but are still important to the success of your business. Come up with a one-line statement that synopsizes your raison d'etre and post it prominently in your work and home. Live it. Steve Job's raison d'etre was to put a computer in everyone's home. He did more than that. He triggered the proliferation of computers on everyone's person in the form of iPods, iPhones, iPads, and now iWatches. He never lost focus.
Thanks to Donna Duncan, B-SeenOnTop
#7 – Strategy First
Strategy is so important and all too often overlooked by new business owners. This does not have to be a difficult process and your strategy may end up being a paragraph or two. Often simply ensuring you have considered the competition along with the daily jobs, pains and gains of your target audience can help you hone your offering and stand out from the crowd. Ultimately great tactical placement of your adverts via SEO, PPC or other channels will only deliver if your offer is unique and enticing. The marketing basics are as true today as they ever were: Strategy, USPs, value propositions, your mission – these things are what helps you stand out and win that customer so get this dialed in *before* you place those ads!
Thanks to Marcus Miller, Bowler Hat
#8 – Positive Strategy
Think from very early on whether you are building a company with an exit strategy or with a cash flow positive strategy. All decisions should derive from this. Let's take your marketing strategy as an example. With an exit strategy, you are looking to be the leader in your field. The main KPI is market share. The money you are burning is not as important. With a cash flow strategy, however, the main KPI is Return On Investment, therefore, every dollar spent on marketing should be analyzed to drive a return fast. This goes for HR, business development, etc. All strategic business decisions should be made with this ultimate goal in mind.
Thanks to Daniel Nathan, BidMotion
#9 – Have Vision
First, find something for which you truly have a passion. Starting a business is not easy, and if you’re not invested in the business – beyond just making a profit – it is difficult to maintain your momentum and persevere through tough times. We often ask potential franchise owners if they have that burning desire in their gut to own their own business and truly engrain themselves in the fabric of their community. It's truly an unmistakable feeling, this absolute belief and conviction that you will own your own store and will it to success. If you don't have that gut feeling about the opportunity you're pursuing, you shouldn't continue. Second, have a vision and prepare to build a strong team around you that supports that vision – and then delegate things to them! One of the most common stress points for our store owners at some point comes from this overwhelming sense that they have to do it all – and that's a surefire way to burn yourself out. Finding the right people to bring onboard, who believe in what your vision is for the business, and whom you can empower to lead their respective parts of the business, will create a culture that drives the success of the store.
Thanks to Jeff Phillips, Fleet Feet Sports
#10 – Good Communication
I've taught and worked with hundreds of business owners over the years. One of the things I've seen over and over are entrepreneurs who don't have a clear vision for their business. If you're going to run a successful business, you've got to know, and be able communicate to your customers, the most important message there is for your company. Which is, who you are, what you do, why you do it, for whom, how you do it and the results you get for your customers. Create this now. Make it an integral part of everything you do. Then, deliver on it with every client. You will create great customer experiences that people want again and again … and will share with the people they know.
Thanks to Mark Hager
#11 – Keep Emotions in Check
Always keep your emotions in check. Up and coming business owners tend to start out by being hyper-sensitive to feedback, despite whether it is good news or bad news. Some days it may feel as if business is booming and you can't keep up, other days it may feel like you need to close up shop…. and with the way things go, they might even happen within the same week! Having a long term mindset has got to be one of the best ways that I've learned to disallow my emotions from getting caught up in the day-to-day.
Thanks to Kornel Kurtz, WebTek
#12 – Schedule a Consultation
My best advice for new business owners is to schedule a consultation with an accountant, a lawyer, and an insurance agent. An accountant should help you understand taxes, bookkeeping, and other financial concerns. A lawyer will help you understand limiting your liability, business partner relationships (if you have one), and what contracts you might need with customers or vendors. An insurance agent will make sure you have the right policies in place for your business. Making sure that the business is setup properly from the beginning might cost a bit out of pocket initially, but it’s much easier (and cheaper!) to do things right the first time, rather than having to fix a mistake later on.
Thanks to Andrew Legrand, Spera Law Group, LLC
#13 – Provide Quality
New business owners should be focused on providing a quality product or service. Fact of the matter is, your business will not succeed if you gain a reputation for poor service or workmanship, no matter how many hours you work. Focus on what you do best, and make sure you are providing your customers and clients with true value. Going above and beyond the call of duty, especially as you are trying to build your reputation, will pay off in the end.
Thanks to Kershan Bulsara, Roofmaster
#14 – Spread the Word
10 things to do before you start your business. First, you want to have a sound business plan. Second, you want to know you targeted costumers. Third, you want to have a strong marketing plan to reach your targeted costumers. Fourth, you need to hire a bookkeeper or an accountant to manage you books. Keep up with your expenses, profits and budgets are key. Fifth, trademark you company name and logo. Sixth, make sure you have a business lawyer on dial. Seventh, research your competition. Eighth, consult with wise people in your field. Ninth, join Commerce of Chambers. Finally, tell all your friends, family and everyone you know to support your business and spread the word to everyone they know
Thanks to Vid Lamonte' Buggs Jr.
#15 – Different Paths
My advice is that the people you start with are not always the ones who grow with you. The biggest mistake and hardest lesson I learned when I started my company 15 years ago is not getting rid of weak people earlier than I did in the first few years of my business. I spent more time managing them than finding new customers. I knew in my gut they were not up to snuff but out of loyalty to them I let them hang around much longer than they should have.. It would have been better for everyone to let them go as soon as the signs were there. They became more insecure and threatened as we grew which was not productive for the team. As soon as I let them go the culture got stronger and the bar higher. ³A team people like to be surrounded by other stars. It is true that you should hire slowly and fire quickly. I did not make that mistake again later on so learned it well the first time. I wish I had known it even earlier though but lesson learned!
Thanks to Paige Arnof-Fenn, Mavens & Moguls