Part of launching a startup is making mistakes and learning from them. Doing so gives you real-world insight into what works and what doesn’t. While making mistakes is part of the process, your end goal is still success. So, in your quest to reach your goals, you need to create a strategy to make it just a little easier.
For new entrepreneurs who are just starting out, starting a business is tough. There are so many things that you need to learn and do, it can be difficult to know where to start. In this article, we’ll outline eight things to keep in mind if you are new to entrepreneurship.
1. Become Financially Stable
Being financially stable before launching your startup is one of the best ways to relieve the stress created by money worries. If you begin with a stable financial foundation, you create the possibility of focusing on long-term goals as well as the freedom to do things that aren’t scalable, which often leads to massive growth.
You need to decide how much you will be able to invest in your business. It seems that there is a never-ending list of costs associated with doing business. But when you’re starting out, you only need to be concerned with the most important ones.
First, calculate your one-time startup costs. These are the initial costs of doing business that might include licensing fees, equipment purchases, setting up a website, etc. Next, you’ll need to figure out your working capital costs. This is how much money it takes to keep the business running. These can include hosting costs, utilities, rentals, and marketing costs.
Once you’ve tallied all of your one-time costs and working capital, you must also take into account other expected and unexpected expenses. These could be bank fees, account software or accountant costs, or legal fees. You also must have a little extra for expenses that come out of nowhere and for emergencies that cannot be prevented, such as a global recession. It is recommended that you have at least 6 months in operational expenses in reserve.
As with any business venture, it’s never a good idea to go in without financial stability. That’s not to say you need to have an endless supply of money. However, if your outstanding debt supersedes your savings or current income, you can find ways to correct that.
Look at all your outstanding debt and see where you can either pay it off or possibly refinance. If your student loans eat up a large percentage of your monthly income, you may want to consider student loan refinancing. You can either roll all of your loans into one, or simply refinance the ones you have for a lower interest rate. In turn, you may be able to pay them off sooner. You can also put that extra money into your business and grow even faster.
2. Increase Your Knowledge Base
People want to do business with people and companies that are experts in their field. Becoming an industry expert and adding to your knowledge base can make a huge difference in your ability to satisfy customers and grow your business. Increasing your knowledge base means that you must talk to experts in your field, take continuing education classes and courses, go to seminars, and read everything you can that will help you become a better entrepreneur.
Fast Company conducted a survey and found the average CEO reads between 50 and 60 books a year. While reading that many books a week is difficult for a new small business owner or startup founder, the habit of consuming industry and role-specific information is valuable.
Another important reason to read is to help in maintaining your physical and mental health. In a study conducted by the University of Sussex, individuals who had read for just six minutes exhibited slower heart rates, less muscle tension, and reduced stress levels.
Another study found that 30 minutes of reading lowered blood pressure, heart rate, and feelings of psychological distress in students enrolled in demanding health science programs. The study found that reading was just as effective for lowering blood pressure as deep breathing and humor.
It is important to note that what you read matters. Reading too much news or current events on the internet may have a negative effect on your ability to work, your stress levels, and your mental health. If you are a new entrepreneur, there are several must-read books that you can use as guides to help you start out and increase your knowledge base.
3. If You’re in the Idea Stage, Run Lean
One of the major reasons why startups fail is because of a lack of market need or lack of product-market fit. Before you spend a lot of time, money, and other resources on your startup’s products, you must make sure that people actually want to buy them.
That is why it is important to run lean during the idea stage and survival stage of your business. The lean startup model, discovered by Eric Ries, teaches that every startup is a grand experiment that attempts to answer these questions: “Should this product be built?” and “Can we build a sustainable business around this set of products and services?”
The first step is figuring out the problem that needs to be solved and then developing a minimum viable product (MVP) to begin the process of learning as quickly as possible.
Startups that pivot one to two times have 3.6x better user growth and raise 2.5x more money. Having a leaner startup allows you the flexibility to change direction multiple times until you find the product that your customers want to buy from you.
4. Continue Asking Yourself, “How Well Am I Solving Problems?”
Entrepreneurs launch their businesses because they believe that they have a product or service that will help people. But one thing some entrepreneurs forget to evaluate is how well they are solving the problems of their customers. Too often, entrepreneurs see a gap in the market or an industry trend and launch their businesses in hopes of capturing an opportunity.
All successful businesses solve a problem. They take the time to identify a need and then use their product or service to become their target audience’s solution. Once you prove yourself, you can then start building a culture.
5. Create Culture In and Around Your Business
Creating a feeling of belonging is important in every business. When consumers feel valued, they’re more likely to tell others about their positive experience. They want others to experience it too. Take the time to build an online community around your product or service, even in the pre-launch period.
How to create a community that cares about you:
- Align Value With Behavior
Make sure that your actions and behaviors align with your values and the values of your community. If you claim to be customer-focused, then it is important to answer questions, offer excellent customer service, and reward customers for their loyalty.
- Create a Theme for Each Day of the Week
It is recommended that you post on social media daily in order to keep fresh content on your profiles. Create a different theme for the days of the week. For example, Mondays can be motivational, on Tuesdays you can offer expert advice, Wednesdays can be fun and informational, etc.
Be sure to be active and interact with your content. Don’t just sit back and wait for likes and comments. Like, comment, and share their content as well.
Offer exclusive content to subscribers and followers.
- Diversify Type of Content
Post videos, graphics, text, reels, and stories across your platforms. This allows your followers to consume your content and to choose how they want to consume it.
6. Be Open to Change
Resisting change, even when it’s for the sake of your startup, is never a good idea. Even though you probably put a lot of thought, time, and energy into your company, there are times when change is necessary. Accept that it’s just part of the process and move on.
If your website isn’t converting, change it. If your customers complain about a product feature that you’re proud of but they do not like, change it. If your current marketing strategy costs more money than it is making, change it.
Like we mentioned earlier, pivoting away from what is not working and toward something that may work is important to your startup’s survival.
7. Enjoy Yourself and the Process
Perhaps more important than succeeding is whether or not you’re enjoying what you’re doing. Yes, starting a business is hard work. However, if you’re happy while building your dream, working extra hours and sacrificing your favorite activities won’t feel like punishment. If it does, you need to think about why you started and decide if this is really what you want to do.
Be patient, be positive, enjoy every victory, and learn from every setback. No sustainable business blows up overnight. Hustle, but take your time and enjoy the process of becoming successful.