We all know that starting a business isn’t easy, but it can definitely be rewarding. Some businesses fail in their first year, others succeed beyond their owners’ wildest dreams— and there are lessons to be learned from both.
So, if you’re looking to get your foot in the door of the entrepreneurial world, take a look at these seven critical lessons for any entrepreneur.
1. Ask yourself if you’re ready
Before you even put pen to paper, ask yourself this most basic question: Are you ready to start a business?
If you’re looking for some extra cash to add to your savings account or to spend a bit more frivolously, a side job may be enough, especially if you enjoy the stability of a 9-5 job.
But, if you want more freedom to run things your way, and you feel ready to take the plunge, make sure you’re 100% mentally on board with the idea. Because things can get tough, stressful, and frustrating. You need to be ready to handle everything coming your way: the good and the bad.
2. Does your business idea have a USP?
If you’re reading this, then you probably already have a business idea in mind. But do you have a USP to go with it? A USP (unique selling proposition) is what elevates your business above your competition. Unless your idea is so unique and ahead of its time, there isn’t any.
But for most businesses, there are plenty of people with similar ideas, trying to sell related products or services. So your USP needs to be strong enough that you stand out from the crowd. Whether you do it better, cheaper, faster, or a combination of those characteristics, your USP is a core asset of your business.
3. Research your target market
If you haven’t already started researching your target market, start now! You need to research your target audience and find out what makes them tick, as well as some basic demographic information about them.
You need to know this in order to plan your branding and marketing strategy. Because if you don’t understand WHY they need your product or service, how can you sell it to them?
And don’t forget to check out your competitors. Identify not only what they’re doing, but why they’re doing it. Are they advertising a specific function or benefit of their product?
4. Put your best foot forward
First impressions are important, which is why you need to look professional from the very beginning. And looking like you mean business means more than just wearing a fancy suit.
You need to develop your business’s brand, but much like a suit, if it’s just thrown together randomly, it won’t look stylish, or polished. Before you open up for business, whether it’s online or in a store, prepare all of your branding assets beforehand. And the anchor of brand is its logo, before you can match the rest you have a killer logo.
Unless you have graphic design skills it not a good idea to design your own logo. You should pay to have your logo designed by someone who knows what they are doing, if that’ not an option go for a logo maker these logo design tools are not the best but they will do a professional job, and the results will be a million times better than designing your own.
5. Cover your back, legally
It’s not unheard of for people to steal your ideas, or for business partners to try and screw you over. Which is why you can help to cover yourself by:
- Trademarking your brand name and logo
- Incorporating your business
- Always use contracts where appropriate
- Consult with a lawyer who specializes in small-business law before starting
6. Create a business plan
If you want to be taken seriously, you need to be able to present a business plan of how you’re going to operate. Not just at the very beginning, but at each step and important milestone along the way. We’ve seen plenty of good and bad business plans which is why recommend that you include:
- An introduction page
- An executive summary of your project (The problem you’re business will solve, your solution, and how you will execute it)
- An industry breakdown
- Marketing strategies to penetrate and sell your business
- An in-depth competitor analysis
- An operations plan and management plan
- Financial projects and funding options
7. Stay organized and avoid burning out
Do you know what the biggest obstacle to a successful start-up business is? You.
All too often, young entrepreneurs try and handle everything themselves, refusing to delegate and not managing their time efficiently. The outcome is a new business owner who is so drained mentally, and physically they can’t function anymore. So plan your time correctly, and hire help when you need it.
Are you ready for the next step?
As a business owner, your work is never finished. But you can make your journey more comfortable by starting with a strong business foundation, which you can do with the above seven lessons.
There’s always going to be something that needs your attention, a new competitor trying to gain market share, tasks that need your attention and approval, or new employees for you to interview.
But with time, dedication, and a steadfast spirit, you’ll be able to grow your business and reach the position you’ve always dreamed of.
Guest post courtesy of Shai Shmarel