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- Stay persistent and don’t give into fear
Being an entrepreneur isn’t for the faint of heart – you’ll face a lot of rejection. You need to have thick skin and be persistent. Use those experiences to your advantage: You’ll learn quickly what works and what doesn’t. I’d also recommend staying organized. Running a small business is hard and organization is half the battle. Make sure you’re working efficiently and don’t be afraid to delegate.
Thanks to Olof Mathé, Mixmax!
#2-Understand that it’s not all about you
Unless you’re a solopreneur, there’s a team behind you. Take on only those problems that only you can handle. Delegate the rest. This is, of course, taking into account that you’re a leader that cares for and empowers your team. When you see that it’s not only you, and your team is involved and respected, you will go much further altogether than you would on your own.
Thanks to Jeff Hoeppner, Helium Group!
#3- Start with ONE!
Start with ONE! – that would have been my best advice to my younger self. I started my marketing agency Pursuing Results because people were asking me to. Which meant I had customers and profit from day one (awesome!). It also meant I spread myself too thin trying to be everything to everyone. I was selling my time rather than running a real business (not so awesome). If I were starting over, I would develop laser focus on ONE type of person I could best help. Then I'd build my service with that ONE person in mind. I'd obsess over every detail so I could delight that one person. I also would have started using a tool like Trello sooner. We run our entire business on Trello, it keeps each of our client's podcasts organized and keeps our team of specialists on track at each step. It's invaluable!
Thanks to Matt Johnson, Pursuing Results!
#4-Design your signature customer experience
Every brand, every business, and every entrepreneur delivers an experience. It’s how people notice you, how they remember you, and usually it’s what they share about you (read: how you and your ideas go viral). So, in use the strategy, sales, and social presence building work you’re already doing to make your customer’s experience one they will never forget. Ever. Do this: design your signature customer experience (yeah, it’s a thing) to align and deliver all of the details of your business so that your customers get the greatest value. That’s what will get you the greatest return at the same time.
Thanks to Mike Wittenstein
#5- Have a purpose
Entrepreneurship is more than starting a business. To succeed, you must have purpose—a purpose that inspires you to evolve and gives you the determination to persevere when difficulties arise. When I started my business, I was driven by my desire to work remotely and take care of my young family. As I scoured the Internet, day after day, to find paying jobs that matched my skills and met my need for flexibility, I realized I wasn’t alone in my struggle and, in turn, discovered my business purpose. I made it my mission to facilitate positive employment search experiences, connect jobseekers to companies offering real telecommute jobs, and help jobseekers avoid scams that prey on them during a vulnerable time in their lives. In following this purpose, our 100% virtual company has helped more than 2 million jobseekers in their job searches, making positive differences in their lives and careers. For me, business just doesn’t get better than that.
Thanks to Laura Spawn, Virtual Vocations, Inc.!
#6-Each morning write down a list of tasks you need to accomplish
It is a well-worn idiom in the business world: time is money. Here is a simple method for making the most of your time each day. Each morning, create a list of imperative tasks and important items you plan to accomplish that day. Write them down! You are much more likely to complete a task or reach a goal if you write it down. In a separate list, keep note of all your high pay-off activities in order of priority. Compare it to your daily list, identify the items for that day that do not carry a high pay-off, and determine if they could be performed by others. Limit interruptions while working on imperative items by entering a block of time in your calendar to be intentionally productive and distraction-free. During that time block, do not check email, close instant messengers, and turn off all phone and desktop notifications. Simply focus on the tasks at hand. If you feel this is impossible because you need to be in the middle of day-to-day operations, you are not running your business – you are micromanaging it. Become more efficient with your time by empowering others.
Thanks to Getfused!
#7-Never Give Up
Having a strong mental attitude is the most important trait any entrepreneur can possess. Entrepreneurs come in two categories. “Wannabe’s” and ”doers. The “wannabes” talk about what they will do and what how they will do it. They like the thought of being in business for themselves. They often spend months and years planning every step of every facet of how their business will operate. The doers jump right in and make mistakes, fall on their face, start over, and do it again. They know experience is the teacher, and if it doesn’t pan out, there is something on the horizon that will. So are you a “wannabe” or do you have the attitude to be “doer”?
Thanks to Kim Paciotti, Empowered Puppy!
#8- If you have the time and the energy – say yes
I have been asked to come to events I thought would do well and they've done terribly and I've has the complete opposite but in every case, I'm glad I said yes. Sometimes face to face events for pitching your products or selling them can be a waste of money but they are never a waste of your time. Regardless of numbers and sales – you are out there in the field talking with other professionals, meeting people, practicing your pitch, I even know people who work at events when it's really that slow. Always say yes.
Thanks to Rachel A. Madej, Rachel Antonia Designs!
#9- Concentrate on gathering information
Today he is the king who has information that others don’t have. Therefore, get as much data as you can gather related to your trade and analyse those data to find every important information as early as possible before your competitors. This valuable information will help you to learn the previous, present and most importantly the future trends of your trade. The more and early you get the information, the more advantage you will gain to rule your trade.
Thanks to Andrei Vasilescu, DontPayFull!
#10- Invest in your inner game
The number one tip I'd give entrepreneurs is to spend more time investing on your inner game than your outer game. Yes, it is important to know your target market, have a solid marketing plan, and strong copywriting. But this isn't normally what stops entrepreneurs from being successful- it is the internal blocks of fear, procrastination, and self-doubt. For example, someone could have the perfect product but if they sound confident when they sell it, you wouldn't buy it, right? It isn't just about what you know, it is about what you do with that knowledge. Many clients come to me having taken countless business courses but haven't taken any action because they weren't addressing the mindset piece. Entrepreneurship forces you out of your comfort zone and without the right kind of support, it is easy to give up. So how can someone invest in their ‘inner game'? By seeking out personal development communities and seminars. Even better is to hire a business coach or mentor who is skilled in addressing the business game holistically and train you on how to stand in your value and overcome fear. You'll learn life skills that will improve ALL areas of your life, providing a greater ROI than just a marketing course.
Thanks to Stephanie Staidle, The Right Brain Entrepreneur!
#11-Become a great storyteller
Stories connect people in powerful ways, building trust and passion in our audience. When you walk down the aisle at the grocery, for example, you will see most brands today tell a story on their packaging. Successful businesses take what is unique about each brand and create the hook and reason to believe that product or service is worth buying. Every brand is trying to own real estate in their customers' minds so that they are thought of first when a particular need arises. The brand story helps carve out that space for a brand to stand out. Plus stories are easier to remember than facts and figures. The most important thing is to focus the story so that the brand owns one thing above all else. Volvo owns safety, if you are a parent looking for a car I am guessing you will at least consider a Volvo, Google owns search. Amazon is all about convenience today but when they started all they sold were books. Once a brand builds trust with their customers like Amazon did with books then people felt comfortable buying music, etc and now they have your credit card info and with one click you can buy just about everything from them. Brand stories are simple, it was grandma's recipe or the beer made from fresh mountain water or the energy bar triathletes prefer. These are the stories people remember and ask for by name. it is how to stand out from your competition.
Thanks to Paige Arnof-Fenn, Mavens & Moguls!
#12- Never operate in a vacuum
Oftentimes, people become the sole leader and they confirm their own ideas. Everything sounds good when your ideas run through your own mind and conscience. But to have the accountability, what I like to call your own personal board of advisors, that you can run your decisions through. Even if it’s something that you have the utmost confidence, run it by your personal board of advisors and ask, “Hey, do you see any other angles?” Ultimately, it is your final decision but when other people give you their unbiased opinion, it will help you to think out of the box and gain different insight/knowledge that you wouldn’t have had before.
Thanks to Elizabeth Melendez Fisher, Selah Freedom!
#13-Cling onto as many of the shares
Cling onto as many of the shares in your company as tightly as you can for as long as possible. For many start-ups, this is very difficult to achieve.. At the start, we had potential investors, but I decided we needed to steer our own ship back then without institutional investment.
Thanks to Noel Moran, PFS!
#14- Work with what you have when starting
Often times when starting a business its natural to gravitate towards the thought of needing a large sum of money to launch a product or service but that is not necessarily true and here is why! It is completely fine to work with what you currently have. Get out in front of the people you are targeting and treat yourself as though you are your own client. Doing this gives others an incentive to be intrigued with what you are discretely self promoting. After you gain interested clients who wants to buy from you, you then recycle the generated income right back into the product/service. If what you have to offer possesses quality and a real solution to a problem or enhances something then it will surely gain traction. Now, of course there is a hi risk of slower growth however the growth will be completely organic with no need to seek additional funding from outside sources.
Thanks to Toney Greer, The Royal Society of the United States!
#15-Build an audience first
If you build it, they will *not* come. Putting a valuable and unique product out into the world no longer guarantees customers and sales. A good idea with zero promotion is worth nothing. The online marketplace is incredibly crowded and noisy. E-commerce stores and service-oriented websites are a dime a dozen, and most get little to no traffic. Growing a business through organic search results alone is not an option in today’s day and age. Build an audience *before* you launch your business, and learn about the marketing channels that will help you reach your target customer from every angle.
Thanks to Stephanie Wiggins, DJANGO!
#16- Protect yourself
There are so many tips I can give, one in which can be overlooked at times is protecting yourself. When it comes to money, people that you thought you knew could turn into strangers. In a way, the true color of a person tend to surface when money is on the line. My advice is to always take caution when you are dealing with partnerships, other people and money. Make sure your documents are in place, that you have the best legal security when money is exchanged so that if a problem develops, it won't be impossible nor ridiculously expensive to recoup. Always remember, that once money leaves your business or personal pockets that unless you have the proper security and collection process in place, consider it a possibility that it may never return. This mindset will keep you safe in all your business dealings.
Thanks to Jonathan Faccone, Halo Homebuyers L.L.C!
#17-Avoid reinventing the wheel
Many businesses think they need to be the newest instagram but in reality they need to provide a solution to a market that is winning to pay for it. 1) Looking at a market where people are already buying. No need to reinvent a new one when you are just starting out. 2) Find out what you do well and make that the unique selling proposition.
Thanks to Jeff Butler
#18- Understand the market and demand for your products
First and foremost, you must understand the market potential of your product and the rate at which it’s growing. You have to clearly understand whether you are going to play alone or already have a few competitors prying on you before you enter the competition. You can also define your entire product line and related products that you plan to sell in the market research stage. If there is enough competition, it would be interesting to check the market share that your competitors enjoy at the moment and what all areas can you tap to penetrate the market better. Generally, proliferating a monopoly market is way harder than making your way among a number of competitors as it’s easier to find a point of differentiation and use that factor to appeal to the customer better. Then, the next step is to identify how demanding your customer base is, what features are they looking for and what are the deal breakers for them. Segregate the “non-negotiables” from the “good to have” elements, if you want to capture the market from day one. Based on these parameters, you can easily chart out a positive revenue trajectory for your business and then, gradually explore up-selling and cross-selling opportunities to get a firm foothold of the market.
Thanks to Ketan Kapoor, Mettl!
#19- Lower the risks
Any business or entrepreneurial venture carries an element of risk. One thing that most billionaires have in common is their aversion to risk and their dedication to asymmetrical returns. Specifically, this is the strategy where an upside potential is greater than the downside risk. Sir Richard Branson, the founder of Virgin Airlines and other ventures, illustrates this point when he made a deal with Boeing to use their passenger jets. The deal was structured to allow Mr. Branson to return borrowed jets after two years, with no liability, if the venture did not work. Any entrepreneur must evaluate their business venture carefully, and creatively, think of the ways to lower risk, while maximizing returns whether by cutting costs or structuring favorable deal terms. Most people look for a 10.0 percent return on an investment, you will be much better off by focusing on 10x return – you can be wrong more times and still win in the game of business.
Thanks to Nataliya Grygoryeva, Araliya Valuation Consulting!
#20- Avoid the gray zone
Do something productive, or something that you enjoy, or both… but never find yourself in that gray zone where you're doing neither. I believe that to succeed as an entrepreneur, you'll need to cut out any gray-zone activities from your life like a doctor would cut out cancer from a brain. The best advice I can give to anyone would be to create your dream team as soon as you can. Even if you can't afford experts, find people with the right mindset, educate them, and encourage them to rise like stars.
Thanks to Johannes Larsson, Financer.com!
#21- Have a business mentor
Business can be a lonely place and one of the best tips I could give for any business owner, whether seasoned or aspiring, is to have a business mentor. A mentor gives you someone to speak to about the difficult things in your business, they have often grew many businesses of their own to incredible heights and have tons and tons of valuable insights that they can share. A mentor won't necessarily give you the answers to your questions, but will instead advise, share experience and try to draw out the answer from within you to develop your own experience and help you find your own path.
Thanks to Craig Murphy, ALT Agency!
#22- Work quietly
Remember that being an entrepreneur means starting, managing and running your own business and focus on that. So often I see people work too hard to fit into the entrepreneur tribe by emulating what they think it means to be one. The truth is that while it's exciting and adventurous, Richard Branson and others like him can take the risks they do and behave the way they do because they have a security you likely don't. Successful entrepreneurs are the ones quietly working, finding a way to keep some sort of balance and doing the research and unglamorous cold calling that never gets glorified in the glossy headlines.
Thanks to Brenda Della Casa, BDC Digital Media!
#23-Ask yourself, why?
Why do you want to start your own business and be an entrepreneur? Though money is a great motivator but what happens when you done get money? No investor & no sales, are you going to give up? Finding the reason why starts from within, that passion that drives you beyond any monetary value. Before you even start or jump into one, find out the reason and frame it up in the office so that it constantly reminds you of why you start in the first place. When things go downhill, you have that reminder to persevere on. It can be as simple as helping people.
Thanks to Logan Tan Jun An, Eezee Pte Ltd!
#24-Head into the right community
One thing that could change the game for me when I started a business after dropping out of college is heading into the right community. It achieved my goals without that, but it took me at least 3X more time. Find highly relevant and vibrant communities in your industry both online and offline. You would find better friends to hang out who will help you to be a better person and businessman. Communities help you find mentors who have are already there where you want to be in future. Communities can help you find a potential partner, employees, and even customers. This is the best investment, and you would thank me later for this.
Thanks to Syed Farhan Raza, The Inbound Crew!