There are times and circumstances when you really need the advice of those who have gone before. Starting a new business is a worthy objective, but it is also one of those times when you need to hear the voice of experience. There are missteps and problematic situations that you can skip altogether if you utilize the insights of the right business veteran. I don’t mean the old-fashioned, out of date, or jaded among you, rather the enthusiastic, ambitious, and seasoned. We all know that opening a business will take work and creativity, but here are a few lessons I learned when starting a new business that you may not have heard before.
Address Your Excuses
Being your own boss is a dream shared by millions of people, but very few actually take the plunge. We have many excuses for why we can’t do it, why it won’t work, and for all the reasons we’re doomed to fail. Our self-doubt kicks into overdrive, and we become overwhelmed with more questions than we can possibly answer.
It’s natural to worry. The risks are real, but so is the possibility of success. If you don’t address the worries, they turn into excuses for inaction. Face them and find solutions to your issues, rather than letting them fester and hold you back.
Solve a Specific Problem
Don’t begin your brainstorming with what to sell; consider instead what problem you can solve. That’s the secret sauce of entrepreneurship. If you try to sell to everyone, you’ll end up selling to no one. You need a niche. When you have a target consumer, you can target your message and your product. Look for a hole in the market to fill.
Understanding the ins and outs of the problem you’re solving will improve your offering, as well as define your brand and marketing.
Know When to Pivot
Don’t be so committed to your current path that you can’t tell when you need to make a change. This is tricky, but your great idea may require modification from time to time. It may be flawed at the root, or you may be facing a change in circumstances. Either way, there could be a real problem with how you’re doing business that’s blocking your success. The issue may be with your marketing, branding, product, or business model. Be open to changing things up a little.
Keep your eyes (and mind) open to new ideas that enhance what you’re already doing. New concepts and new ways of doing business can help you evolve at crucial times and lead your market. Copying your competition or being satisfied to edge them out isn’t good enough.
Developing a kind of self-monitoring insight will be beneficial throughout your business career. The ability to step back and figure out what’s working and what’s not working is invaluable. The sooner you develop this skill, the better.
Keep Your Eyes on The Money
As you begin in your business, concentrate on the activities that make you money. You need to start growing fast with your eye on your cash flow. If you aren’t making money, you’re out of business.
Keep your spending lean no matter how tempting it is to buy all the shiny new things. Think carefully about what you need for the business and what can wait until you have more money. Increasing your expenses too soon will drag your business down. Of course, you will need to invest in some things but tread lightly. Ask yourself if the purchase will grow your business in the immediate. If it will, make the investment. If it won’t, wait.
Keep it Simple
It’s easy to begin with a great idea, and over time, it becomes complex and overwhelming. This isn’t doable. Complicated business ideas quickly become expensive and short-lived. Keep your concept simple and straightforward. Beginning small may not be glamorous, but it is sustainable.
Develop a product or service that is high quality and simple. Test your ideas. Success is finding a way to fulfill the needs of your customers in the simplest way possible. Cut away the unnecessary.
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You Need Passion
Of course, you want to make money, but don’t forget the passion. The desire to be rich won’t be enough to get you through the tough times. Being passionate about what you’re doing will keep you from becoming disillusioned or burned out. People who love what they do are more likely to persist toward their dreams and make them happen for themselves and others. It’s possible to bring your passions in line with profits, but there’s more to life than making money.
Really Know Your Market
Delve deep to understand your market. Over time it will change and evolve, so know the factors that govern its flow. Your market will include people with varying needs and ways to service them. There is nuance involved, and you must learn how to navigate it. Resist the tendency to view everyone the same and create a ‘one size fit all’ service. Make note of your customers’ responses and preferences to ensure your business remains on the cutting edge of your market.
Earn As You Build
As you build your business, you may need to keep your day job. This isn’t some subtle self-defeating action. For practical reasons, you may need to continue to earn money until your business can support itself. If you put too much pressure on your business to sustain you too early on, you may not build it as gradually as you need. Many of your decisions will be made out of desperation and not knowledge or wisdom.
You may need a little time, as well, to go from being an employee to an entrepreneur. In addition to mindset changes, it also entails learning new skills.
Finally, be persistent. Success won’t come overnight, so you will need to commit for the long haul. Many amazing business ideas die in the early stages, not because there is no market for them, but because the owner/founder gave up before success came. Be prepared to weather the storms and endure the self-doubt, to come out on the other end. Believe me, success will be well worth it.