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“You’re crazy!” “Are you sure?” “That’s going to be hard.” These are all things entrepreneurs hear when they talk about starting a business. The critics aren’t wrong; it is going to be hard, but that doesn’t have to stop you from being successful in your business. As long as you strategize, plan and read this article before starting a business, you’ll be well on your way. Here are seven tips that no one tells you before you start your business:
1. It’s still about who you know
When you start your own business, you may have done so for an array of reasons. One of them may be because you didn’t have the right contacts to get a job where you wanted in the first place.
Unfortunately, opening up a business solo isn’t void of other people. You’ll need partners, potentially, and at least other business contacts to help you advertise. Don’t delete your contacts, because you don’t think you need them. Believe me, you do.
2. You’ll want to quit
As passion-driven as you are, there are still times when you’re starting your business that you’ll feel like throwing in the towel. Even if you “do what you love,” running your own business is hard.
Work can exhaust you, so make sure you’re taking breaks. Even if they’re mini-breaks between phone calls or meetings, giving yourself a little breathing time is essential. Contrary to what many believe, taking breaks doesn’t cut into your productivity. It’s quite the opposite. A well-timed and well-deserved break can re-energize you and help you get through the rest of your day faster.
3. It’s non-stop
When you’re starting your own business, there is always more work to do. When you can always be working, and there’s no one to put restrictions on you, you’ll find yourself working all the time.
Don’t do that! Set boundaries for yourself and for your workday. Some days you’ll have to work later or earlier than others. If you can, only schedule meetings or consultations within your personal work hours. If you have to work late one night, make sure you stick to your limit the next day.
4. Everyone will have an opinion
If you have kids, you know that everyone has something to say about raising them. The same goes for when you’re “raising” a business.
You might mention to a friend that you’re having an issue with something to blow off some steam. Then, when you only needed to feel listened to, they go off with three ways to fix your problem.
They mean well, but you don’t have to listen to them or take their advice. Seek advice with trusted advisors and mentors who have been in the trenches before you, so there’s some wisdom in alternative opinions.
5. You’ll have to ask for money
Whether you thought you had enough capital, considered your business to start with 10k budget, or underestimated the loan you need, you’ll have to ask for more. This is true for a reasonable percentage of startups.
Asking for money is hard, especially if you’re asking for more from the same person/entity. Don’t feel guilty about it — though it may seem like that’s all your brain wants to do. Come up with a plan for how you’ll use the money and how you’ll pay it back.
If you’re borrowing from the same person again, show them that you have a plan for how you’ll use their money so that you don’t run out again. Being able to show how you will spend the money shows you have spent time defining projections, runways, timelines and go-to-market strategies is key to backing up your confidence in the company.
6. You can’t double dip for customers
A lot of people make the mistake of thinking their friends and family will be their first clients. While that’s true for maybe 20% of your personal network, that doesn’t mean you can count on them to get your business off the ground.
You have to invest in marketing, both digital and traditional. Where can you go and promote your business to interested customers? Too many small business owners spend so much on startup costs, they forget to advertise.
That’s the kiss of death for a new business. Using at least 10% of your budget for marketing will ensure you don’t doom yourself. You can always buy more decor as you make profits, but you can’t buy back under-utilized time.
7. You’ll need to reinvest
It’s exciting when you make a profit for the first time as a business owner. You stressed all that time about being able to pay everyone, the rent, buy supplies, etc. — but making a profit shows a great step in operational achievement and synergy.
Of course, you may feel like spending your profit on a reward for yourself or something new and exciting for your shop. But stop and think: How can I reinvest that profit back into my business? Maybe buy some more ad space or add to your cost-per-click budget. You may have a need to hire a new employee or pay off a debt that has a high interest rate.
What I’m saying is, your profit should cover your expenses, then go straight back into your business to make a bigger profit next month or create operational efficiencies for scaling. Don’t worry, once you do this for the first month, you can invest a little less the next month or create/update budgets.
With these tips in mind, some capital and the right business strategy, you’re all set to start your business. It won’t be a straight road to the top, and it’s okay to have some roadblocks along the way. We all face them, even the unicorns.
The best thing to do when issues arise is to ask for advice from a network of mentors and advisors. Seek to learn more things unique to your niche, and ask your advisors the hard questions to help unlock the early mysteries of starting a business.