The journey to becoming a successful business owner isn’t a smooth one. It’s filled with bumps, obstacles, and unexpected detours.
Surprisingly, most business owners wouldn’t have it any other way. It’s a badge of honor they proudly display. That doesn’t mean they never learn from their mistakes or the mistakes on the other hand fortify their business after rigorous learning from it. With that in mind, here are 8 things you should know before starting your business.
8 Things To Consider Before Starting Your Business.
Make Your Business Top Priority
Perhaps the biggest misconception about starting your own business is that you’re only focused on chasing your passion. In other words, you’re not just going to be making handmade jewelry, cooking on your own food truck, or designing websites 24/7. That’s maybe going to consume 15% of your time.
Instead, you’re going to spend a bulk of your time on developing business strategies, marketing, selling, interacting with customers, and doing administrative tasks like bookkeeping, invoicing, and payroll. In short, you’re a business owner first and then a web designer, chef, or creator of handmade jewelry. I know this isn’t what you signed up for, but the sooner you realize this fact, the sooner you’ll be able to launch and maintain a successful business.
Write a Business Plan
Starting a business is difficult and risky; it’s easy to spend all your time and resources on it. Before you start, figure out what type of business you will have. It is important to take time to evaluate and prioritize your plans for the future, both personally and financially. Furthermore, a well-written business plan helps you attract investors and sponsors.
Having a written plan with your projected results and personal goals is the best way to stay on track. A business plan will put your ideas in concrete terms and help you identify places to change the business model where necessary.
Focus on People and Their Needs
It’s about helping others, not turning a profit: while you obviously need to turn a profit, that’s not your goal. Your focus should be on helping your customers solve a problem or make their lives better. You could be an extremely knowledgeable consultant, but if you’re just preoccupied with making money, how is that going to benefit your clients in the long-run? It’s not. And, you’re going to deliver mediocre results.
Once you realize that it’s not about you, or how much money is flowing into your bank, you’ll start delivering a superior product or service, which will attract more customers. And, when you have more customers, the more income you’ll generate.
Manage Your Cash Flow
Make no mistake about it. Cash flow is the lifeblood of your business. When you don’t properly manage your cash flow you end up spending more money than you’re bringing in. And, how long can you expect to stay-in-business when you don’t have enough money to pay for your necessary expenses?
The most effective way to manage your cash flow is by creating a budget and justifying every expense so that you know exactly where your hard-earned money is going.
Prepare for the Worst
The odds are against me, and that’s alright: you’ve probably heard this time and time again. But, most businesses are going to fail. So, what steps are you going to take to at least decrease those odds?
There isn’t a one-size-fits-all approach, but you should consider doing something like keeping your current job for as long as you can. This gives you time to build an emergency fund, conduct market research, and start gaining some traction. Even when it’s time to take that giant leap you need to hire the right team and constantly develop your skills.
Even if your business fails, it’s not the end of the world. At least you’ve gained new skills, experiences, and have learned from your mistakes so that you can come back even stronger.
Pick the Right Business Partner
Running a business alone can be so lonely. Every decision and responsibility falls on your shoulders. And that’s a heavy, lonesome burden to carry. Having a co-founder or business partner can lessen that burden and make the journey not as lonely, but if you’re not in that position then you should build a safety net.
In a scenario where you can’t start your enterprise on your own but need a partner instead, you need to ensure that you find the right person for the job. First of all, you need someone with the same idea, the same vision as you have. Just picking a person based on mutual interests is not a good idea. Second, you need someone that you have great communication with.
Finally, you need to have it all in writing, as well as a partnership dissolution plan, well ahead of time. It could be your spouse, family, best friend, or other business owners who are going through the same experience as you. You’re going to need them for advice, emotional support, and the occasional venting session.
Understand your own strengths, skills, and time available
Optimize, outsource, and automate whatever you can. Entrepreneurs have the mindset that they have to do everything on their own. I mean if you can’t design a logo or loathe accounting why would you waste your effort and time in those tasks? Your time would be better spent doing the tasks that you enjoy and are capable of handling.
Better yet, a majority of these tasks can now be outsourced and automated. For example, you can hire freelance writers, accountants, or graphic designers on sites like Upwork, Guru, Fiverr, to mention a few. Besides outsourcing tasks to freelancers, there is no shortage of tools that can automate most of your marketing needs, like communicating and retaining customers.
Engage with your Audience
Your customers don’t want to do business with some faceless, nameless organization but it’s also. They want to know that there’s an actual person on the other end. Someone who will respond to their inquiries and understand their pain points.
Engaging with your audience is one of the most important tasks that business owners must work on. Instead of hiding in an office and never interacting with your customers, respond personally to comments left on forums, blog posts, social media channels, review sites, and emails. Speak at industry events and mingle afterward. Talk to potential customers when waiting for a flight.
This gives you insights on what your customers are really looking for, as well as builds trust between you and your customers and establishes you as an authority figure.
In conclusion, don’t work yourself to death. It’s not good for the health of either you or your business.