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Last Updated on July 21, 2021

23 Tips for New Entrepreneurs to Get Your Business Underway

23 Tips for New Entrepreneurs to Get Your Business Underway
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Being your own boss, working from home, financial freedom, these all the things that motivate people to become entrepreneurs.

But the fact is, while a lot of people dream about having all of these things, most will never take even the first steps to become an entrepreneur, why not? For a lot of us, coming up with a “million dollar idea” is easy, implementing it is not.

Knowing how to get your business started is the hardest part. There are a lot of things to think about. Is my idea even good enough? How do I get financing? How am I going to market the business. Do I even have the time to start a business? And it seems like a million more questions come flooding through your mind.

Because all of these things are legitimate concerns and many don’t have a clear cut “right” answer, many people end up doing nothing.

Today, we are going to talk about the most common issues new entrepreneurs face and how to overcome them. Let’s take a look at the 23 tips for new entrepreneurs:

1. Evaluate Your Idea

In any list of tips for entrepreneurs, this should always rank as number one. Do you have a business idea that will work? Good business ideas will do at least one of the following.

A. Make a person’s life easier/better – The home computer has made communication much easier, especially over long distances.

B. Save people time or money – The advent of the washing machine saved countless hours of hand washing clothes item by item.

C. Adds value to an existing product – The value of home computers really increased with the development of software. Word processors, accounting and tax software, spreadsheets etc.

2. Evaluate Yourself

This can be difficult, especially because it requires you to be completely honest. The up side is that if you are honest it’s invaluable knowledge to have.

What type of a person are you? Are you a “big picture” person or a “detail orientated” person. Are you good with accounting and numbers or would you rather be out meeting customers and selling products?

Understanding your strengths and weaknesses will tell you how you need to allocate resources.

3. Do Market Research

You not only need to know your product or service inside and out, but you also need to know your customer inside and out.

Who are you marketing to? What is the benefit that you or your product is giving them? What is there biggest complaint about their current product or service? Does yours fix that problem? Just how big is the market for your product or service?

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Through market research, you should be able to answer all of these questions.

4. Have a Business Plan

A lot of new entrepreneurs get stuck with this one because they don’t know how to do it. The important thing here is to not get to bogged down in the details.

When you are first starting out, your funding sources are probably going to be friends, family and maybe a bank that does SBA loans. They are not expecting anything to elaborate, but you must have a well thought-out business plan to show them. Here’s a great article on how to write a business plan.

5. Think About Branding

Don’t just think about branding as a logo or catch-phrase. Branding is the way you will differentiate yourself from your competition. Branding is what makes you or your product unique. Ultimately, branding is why customers will choose your products over the competition.

No matter how you decide to brand yourself, it’s going to take time and consistency, so get started right away!

6. Secure a Domain for Your Website

In today’s world, having a website is a must. It really doesn’t matter what type of business you have, you need a good website.

Securing your domain name, while it’s a simple process, it’s not uncommon to find that your first choices are taken.

For example, “Donny’s Lawn Service” is probably already taken. Don’t get discouraged, just get creative. You might try “Lawn Maintenance by Donny” or “Donny’s Executive Lawn Service”, “Landscaping by Donny”, “Donny’s California Lawn Service”.

Whatever you choose, think of your website as an extension of your branding efforts.

7. Get Your Social Media Set Up

Much like a website, having a social media presence is a must in today’s world. Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest are all valuable places for you to market your business and engage with customers.

Securing your social media presence now to get a jump start on your launch.

8. Decide on a Legal Structure

Is your business a Sole Proprietorship, LLC, Partnership, Corporation? What’s the difference? All of these entities have their own strengths and weaknesses as well as tax consequences. This is where professional advice is a must.

Consult your lawyer and tax adviser as to the best option for your situation.

9. Register with the Government

Exactly what you need to do will depend on what type of business you have. If you have a retail store, you will normally need a business license and sales tax license. If you do personal services such as hair or nail salons, your will need to register with the local health department.

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Depending on the business structure you have an EIN (Employer Identification Number) maybe required. You can find a complete list of federal and state licensing requirements on the SBA’s website.

10. Make Financial Projections

Remember that research we talked about earlier? Here’s where it comes in handy. You’ll want to have a good idea of exactly what your startup costs will be.

Things like inventory, marketing, rent, utilities should all be in there, but also make sure that you are accounting for things like a (modest) salary for yourself, you need to be able to live while you are getting started.

Insurance, legal and professional fees, questions and concerns that require expert advice are bound to come up in the first year of the business.

11. Develop a Marketing Plan

The days when “if you build a better mouse trap the world will beat a path to your door” are over. In today’s world, marketing is what determines the success of a business.

First you’ll need to define your market, are you selling something to a locally (Boutique, Hair / Nail Salon, Lawn Service) or are you going to be selling nationally or even internationally (Software, Electronics, Consulting Services)?

Your marketing strategy will depend on these and other factors.

12. Set up a Sales Plan

While a marketing plan is focused on how to get people interested in your product, the sales plan’s focus is about turning that interest into revenue.

The type of sales plan you develop should be directly related to what you are marketing. If it’s a brand new never seen before product, having a physical sales force that can go out and show the product demonstrating how it works might be useful.

On the other hand, if it’s software or a consulting service it’s probably much more efficient to build a website with a good sales funnel.

13. Start Securing Funding

Once you have the financial projections and you know how much you’ll need, you can start looking for funding.

So how much funding will you need? If your financial projections show that you will need $40,000 the first year, you should secure funding in the range of $50,000 – $55,000. And where should you get this funding, the very first place should be through your own resources.

Now, you don’t need to put every last penny you have into it, but going to others for funding without any “skin in the game” on your part will not inspire confidence.

Other funding sources can include, SBA loans through banks, successful business people looking to invest and even crowd funding. Oh and don’t forget friends and family!

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14. Set up an Accounting System

You can either do this in house, or by hiring an outside firm. Keep in mind that your accounting will need to be kept up to date and it can be time consuming.

You maybe better off spending your time growing the business and letting an outside firm handle this aspect of the business.

15. Find a Good Insurance Broker

Getting the right insurance is a must. Without the right insurance, you are not only risking the business itself, but potentially all of your personal assets too.

Besides, your banks and investors wont even consider investing if you don’t have the proper insurance. Most businesses have a trade association, this is a great resource for your insurance needs.

16. Start Putting Together a Team

One of the most important tips for entrepreneurs is to assemble the right team. A lot of times founders will try to be a “Jack of all trades” and do everything. This is a mistake, a good rule of thumb is that entrepreneurs are ‘big picture” and employee are “specialists”.

17. Consider Compensation Packages for Key Employees

One thing that almost all start ups have in common is a lack of money. You want to attract the best employees but you are competing with more established companies that can often times pay more.

Consider some creative options when hiring key employees. For instance, you may not be able to offer a company car, but you may be able to pay for mileage. You may not be able to match a salary, but consider giving key employees a stake in the company. There are always creative ways around problems.

18. Setup a Work Space

It doesn’t matter if you are going to be working by yourself at home or if you’ll have several employees. You need a professional work space.

If that involves leasing office space, you’ll most likely need a security deposit, first months rent as well as deposits and fees for utilities.

If you are working out of your home, set aside a area that is dedicated for work. It should be a place that you can work uninterrupted and is quiet enough that you can make professional business calls without dogs barking and babies crying.

19. Start Getting the (Pre-Launch) Word Out

The launch of your start up should not come as a surprise. You need to be building your brand and creating a presence in the marketplace before you launch.

Start joining discussion boards devoted to your industry or profession. Offer tips and suggestions on your social media pages to get likes and followers. All of these things will create excitement and anticipation for your official launch.

20. Get Feedback

This can be included in your pre-launch activities. Offer a prototype, or give a description of the service and ask for feedback.

Don’t get upset or discouraged by negative comments. What you are looking for is a pattern. What aspects of your product or service get the most positive and negative reviews? Use this information to make adjustments to the product / service, or it just change the way you present (market) your product / service.

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21. Do a “Soft Opening”

A soft opening is basically just a practice run for your grand opening.

The soft opening is where you will start getting your very first “word of mouth” advertising. It’s also where you will work out the kinks in the system that inevitably occur.

22. Launch Your Grand Opening

This is the day you’ve been waiting for, everything is set up, you’ve worked out any issues during the soft opening and now your ready to go.

The grand opening should be a big event with a lot of pre-planning and social media hype.

Notify trade associations, Facebook groups and discussion boards. Offer “door buster” deals to the first X number of people who sign up or purchase a product.

23. Constantly Evaluate and Adjust

Remember when we talked about doing all that planning? Well now you will need to evaluate those plans and make adjustments as needed.

There’s no such thing as a straight line to success in business, and even the best laid plans hit road bumps.

Your job as a manager is to recognize the bumps before they damage the car. Remember that it’s always better to catch problems too early than too late.

Evaluate, Adjust, Monitor, Repeat.

The Bottom Line

Starting a new business can be one of the scariest, stressful, agonizing things you can do in life. But it also can be one of the most rewarding and fulfilling things you’ll ever do.

I like to say that businesses are like marriages, bad ones are awful, but good ones are priceless. And just like a marriage, the more you work at it the better it gets.

So here’s to a solid foundation to both your relationships and business ventures!

Featured photo credit: rawpixel via unsplash.com

More by this author

David Carpenter

Lifelong entrepreneur and business owner helping others to realize the American Dream of business ownership

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Published on July 27, 2021

15 Smart Video Conferencing Etiquette Tips to Follow

15 Smart Video Conferencing Etiquette Tips to Follow
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During the pandemic, video conferencing replaced in-person meetings and has now become the standard option for business meetings. Over the past 17 months, most workers have gotten past the video conferencing learning curve with Zoom or Microsoft Teams (or their platform of choice).

But just as with in-person meetings, attention can wax and wane. Some say we’re just not used to staring at ourselves so much on the screen. Instead of fixating on that, try employing smart video conferencing etiquette, or you may risk indiscretions that will flag you as a slacker.

Put the Pro in Professional

After more than a year of fine-tuning, here are the new rules of video conferencing etiquette.

1. Mute Your Mobile and Other Devices

The first video conference etiquette you need to know is muting your other devices. Just as in the pre-COVID days, someone’s obnoxious ring tone blaring Taylor Swift’s newest single in the middle of a meeting is also an annoyance if it happens during a Zoom meeting and so is the inevitable fumbling to turn off the sound. Even the apologies to the group get tiresome.

Also, when notifications are activated on the computer that you’re using for the meeting, the incoming message takes over the audio and you’ll miss out on snippets of the conversation. Be sure to eliminate this possible faux pas.

2. Dress the Part

While working from home, you may have fallen into the habit of slipping on your comfiest T-shirt each day. Hey, no judgments! But before you log on to your video conference, try to make an effort with your appearance.

Depending on your company culture and the importance of your meeting, consider dressing the part of the professional whom you wish to project. It will help you feel more self-assured, and others will likely take you more seriously.

For women, wear light make-up, put on earrings, and make sure your blouse is crisply pressed. For men, show up freshly shaved. Wearing a crisp collared shirt in a solid color will usually suffice.

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Pro Tip: Stay away from wearing white or black, unless those colors look great on you. Consider wearing light blue or brown instead.

3. Stage Your Workspace

Have you noticed the backdrops of experts interviewed on news shows? Bookshelves and photographs are carefully curated, and no busy-patterned furniture or artwork is in sight.

Take note of what appears behind you when you choose the location of your video conferences. Piles of junk mail on the table or stacks of folded laundry on the couch will convey more about your personal life than you care to share. Make sure you remove clutter from the camera’s eye, and present a tidy, orderly workspace to your colleagues, coworkers, and bosses.

4. Put Some Thought Into Lighting and Perspective

Be aware that in a video conference, your computer camera can actually make you look up to ten pounds heavier depending on where you sit. But you can easily drop those added pounds by moving back from the screen to diminish the wide-angle distortion.

Frame your head on the screen by tilting the screen up or down. Also, it’s best to not place yourself in front of a window or bright light, which makes you appear in shadow. Instead, face the light source, moving it (or yourself) until you have a flattering amount of illumination. You can also purchase some small spotlights that allow you to add light as needed.

Pro Tip: If your lights add too much redness to your skin, consider counter-balancing with a green filter.

Remember That Half of Life Is Showing Up

5. Arrive on Time

In the old days of in-person meetings, it was nearly impossible to slip in late into a meeting unnoticed. In today’s video conferences, logging in late still shows poor form. Instead, strive to arrive five minutes early and get yourself settled.

Once the meeting is underway, the host may be less attentive about late arrivals waiting to be let in. Diverting the host’s attention away from the meeting with a tardy entry request is the ultimate giveaway that you didn’t honor the schedule. If you don’t want a black mark against you, log in on time.

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6. Turn on Your Video

Few people like to see their face on the screen, but buck up and turn on your camera in video conferences. In most cases, it’s better to be a face on a screen than a name in a blank square. Your statements will be more memorable when other meeting attendees can see you.

If you need to turn off the video, either because of a poor connection, some commotion in the room, or a need for a quick break, give a short explanation via the chat feature. Then, go back on video as soon as you’re able.

Pro Tip: Keep your explanation for your departure pithy. “Sorry! Doorbell rang. Back in five” says it all. Be sure to honor what you say in chat and really do return in five minutes.

7. Plan Ahead Before Sharing Your Screen

Don’t be one of those people who makes everyone else wait as you click through folders in search of a document. That’s just poor video conferencing etiquette. If you know you’ll need to share a document or video on your screen, prepare by pulling it out of its folder and onto your desktop. Also, clean up the files and folders on your desktop to reduce clutter and facilitate easy access. Close other programs like chat, calendar notifications, and email. Disable pop-up notifications to ensure there’ll be no unforeseen distractions.

Be sure to remind the host before the meeting that you’ll need them to activate the screen-sharing function. Show courtesy once you’re finished by hitting “stop share” to return to the screen with participants.

Attend to the Pesky Details

8. Make Sure That Meetings Remain Right-Sized

With the easy accessibility of video conferencing, it can be tempting to extend the meeting invitation beyond the core group and include everyone peripherally involved in a project. But just as with in-person meetings, the more people involved, the more unwieldy the meeting becomes.

Use good judgment when asking others to sit through a video conference so that you don’t needlessly take up others’ time and so that participants can be fully engaged.

9. Remember to “Unmute” Before You Speak

Most of us are likely able to count on one hand the number of video conferences when someone didn’t have to be reminded, “You’re on mute!” Forgetting to unmute before speaking has become one of the most common missteps in video conferencing.[1]

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Show everyone your impeccable video-conferencing poise by managing your mute feature with flawless control.

10. Stay on Point to Keep the Meeting Length in Check

As with in-person meetings, an agenda with assigned time limits for discussions remains necessary to keep a meeting focused. Data shows, however, that video conferencing can actually reduce meeting time.[2] Reasons include the elimination of commuting time and the ability to screen share and annotate to keep everyone on task.

Additionally, side conversations are virtually impossible with video conferencing now that you can no longer have back-and-forth exchanges with the person beside you.

Pro Tip: If you’re running the meeting, let attendees know in advance the protocol for the chat feature. Is it okay for them to “chat among themselves” or not? (See point 11, as well.)

Talking Has a Time and a Place

11. Chat Appropriately

Just like side conversations or texting in an in-person meeting, the use of the chat feature during a video conference can be disrespectful unless it’s directed to all participants. Hence, it’s good video conferencing etiquette to mind your use of the chat.

At the start of the meeting, you may want to ask the host if it’s alright for participants to use the chat feature. This allows them to disable it if they choose. Used appropriately, it can be a helpful tool to clarify or amplify an earlier point once the conversation has moved on or to let the group know that you need to sign off early (and why).

12. Use the “Raise Hand” Feature to Avoid Interruptions

The slight lag in many video conferences can result in speaking over another person if you attempt to jump into a conversation. To avoid this awkward interruption, indicate when you have something to add to the discussion with the raise-your-hand feature that signals the host you would like to speak. This effective meeting management device makes video conferencing run more smoothly, especially with a large group, but it must be activated and monitored by the host.

Pro Tip: For meetings of six to ten people, sometimes the old-fashioned raising of your physical hand may be the best option. But it’s up to the meeting host. Ask them what they would prefer, and follow that.

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13. Don’t Record the Session or Take Photos Without Prior Permission

In this case, not sharing is caring. The “sharing culture” made popular through social media has little place in video conferencing. Before recording a meeting or capturing a screenshot of the participants, always ask for consent in advance from the full roster of attendees. Knowing that a video conference will be photographed or recorded could have a bearing on what others are willing to discuss.

Manage Yourself

14. Minimize Distractions

While de-activating audio and video features can keep distractions from affecting the other participants, you will need to manage noise and disruptions on your end to give your full attention to the meeting.

Move out of high-traffic zones in your home, keep your door closed, and ask family members to be considerate.

15. Save Snacking for Later

Save snacking for later—or earlier. Eating while on video conference is a no-no. Munching in front of the group while close to the camera—as you are when video conferencing—subjects the participants to an up-close and (too) personal view of your food consumption process.

However, it’s perfectly fine to sip quietly from a glass of water or cup of coffee or tea. If the meeting threatens to last for more than two hours, you may want to ask the host in advance to schedule a five-minute break at the halfway point.

Final Thoughts

Even though bosses are now beginning to ask workers to spend some of their workdays on-site, up to 80 percent will permit employees to work remotely at least part of the time, which means more video conferencing in your future.[3] Mastering these video conferencing etiquette tips will help you dial in—as well as dial back—your participation and demonstrate your unwavering level of engagement to the team.

Featured photo credit: Chris Montgomery via unsplash.com

Reference

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