Entrepreneurship is an adventure and, like any journey, it’s nice to have a roadmap when you begin. While no one can anticipate everything that will come up in the early days of a new venture, there are some common elements that apply to most everyone.
Follow these 5 basic business tips for beginners as you get off your feet.
Tip #1: Know thyself
There’s no getting around you’ll probably have to fulfill a lot of roles in your business. You’ll have to produce the product or service, do the marketing and at least do some basic accounting and legal structuring. But make sure you go in with a clear understanding of what you do well and what you don’t.
Even if it’s a long time before you’re able to hire full- or part-time help, look for opportunities to farm out those activities in your business where you aren’t particularly strong. The business as a whole will be at its best when everyone is doing what they’re best at, and that starts with you.
Tip #2: Eliminate excuses
One reason most people don’t take the leap to starting their own business is that they never get past the excuse stage. If you make a pros and cons list of why you should be an entrepreneur, any honest list of cons will be substantial.
Before you begin, go to work on addressing each one. Make sure you understand in your own mind why an excuse is not a reasonable basis for inaction. Or, if you determine the excuse is really a reasonable objection, make sure you understand why it’s outweighed by the pros on your list.
There will be dark days in the early stages of your business and the opportunities for second-guessing will be abundant. That’s why you want to understand before you ever begin, when your mind is clear, why these excuses won’t stop you.
Tip #3: Be a discerning learner
Learn as much as you can about everything that goes into your business. From the specific product or service line, to the running of an enterprise, to the psychological management of your life in what will be a stressful time.
But be discerning in who you listen to. Most people are very happy to give advice with little reflection on whether they are qualified to give it. If you choose to absorb information and advice from a source, make sure you know why you trust that source.
Rather than starting your idea with what to sell, think about what it will solve. It’s much easier to gain a solid customer base when your business is correcting a common problem.
Tip #4: Simplify
You may well have big ambitions for your business and that’s a good thing. But unless you’re extremely well-financed, you’ll likely have to start small and build up. That means simplifying your focus and then really honing in.
As part of the simplification, work on your elevator pitch—the basic 30-second explanation that you’ll give about your business when you meet people at the Chamber of Commerce, on the street or, quite literally, in the elevator. Nothing focuses the mind like having to describe what you do in less than 1 minute.
Tip #5: Know why you’re a solution
Businesses don’t sell products or provide services. Oh, on the surface that’s what they do, but all of those are sold because they solve a pain point in someone’s life. Before you go into business, understand what specific pain point you’re solving.
For example, if you provide technical consulting, what you really provide is peace of mind for a business owner that their computer systems are working. If you’re a digital marketing consultant, what you really do is ensure that a business owner’s website investment doesn’t go down the tube.
So dig a little deeper into the human psyche. Understanding what pain point you solve will not only help you sell more, but you’ll feel good about yourself. In the early days of a business, that’s critical.