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Published on October 2, 2018

23 Tips for New Entrepreneurs to Get Your Business Underway

23 Tips for New Entrepreneurs to Get Your Business Underway

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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Last Updated on September 18, 2019

11 Hard Skills That Will Land You More Career Opportunities

11 Hard Skills That Will Land You More Career Opportunities

Are you looking to move up the career ladder? Or maybe you’re tired of having a “job” and want to start looking for a more permanent career?

Whatever your motivation, you are going to have to learn some new and different hard skills to broaden your opportunities. After all, there’s a very famous quote that says:

“The definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again, but expecting different results.” – Albert Einstein

While the insanity part doesn’t really fit here, the overall message is a good one. If you are looking for a different result (career advancement, more money or even a career instead of a job), it’s up to you to make it happen. This is both the good news and bad news!

The good news is that because it’s up to you, you have complete control over it happening. The bad news is that change is hard. Humans are creatures of habit, that’s why we develop routines, and anything that disrupts that routine causes us anxiety. And we will do almost anything to get rid of that anxiety. The overweight person will calm their anxiety by eating that doughnut, the smoker will light up a cigarette to avoid anxiety.

What we want to do with this article is to give you the hard skills you’ll need to reduce that anxiety so you can move up that corporate ladder, make more money or have career instead of just a “job.”

The following hard skills are essential to learn if you want to advance your career. They may not be easy to take up, but definitely worth your effort of learning:

1. Cloud Computing

“Simply put, cloud computing is the delivery of computing services—servers, storage, databases, networking, software, analytics, intelligence and more—over the Internet “the cloud” to offer faster innovation, flexible resources, and economies of scale. You typically pay only for cloud services you use, helping lower your operating costs, run your infrastructure more efficiently, and scale as your business needs change.” Microsoft[1]

There are many different jobs available in the cloud computing world today. They range from architects and developers to data scientists, security pros. Each job is its own specialty and requires a high level of specification for advancement.

This is definitely a hard skill that requires education. But if the tech world and computers are your thing you can make cloud computing a lucrative career.

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2. Data Mining and Statistical Analysis

Again, these are highly specialized fields. Data mining is defined as using large sets of data to look for anomalies and other patterns that can be used to predict future behavior.

Amazon is probably the best known company to use data mining. Have you ever noticed that when you buy something at Amazon, you’ll see a little ad at the bottom that says “customers who bought this also bought…”and it lists 2-3 other items? All of that information comes from data mining, by examining the millions of sales amazon makes they can predict that if you buy item #1 there is a high likelihood that you will buy one of the other items too. T

his not only increases sales for Amazon, but it also serves as a reminder for you that you may need these additional items for your project. This is very valuable information and has a wide range of uses. Although it has a bad reputation and evil sounding name, it is a very useful tool for maximizing productivity and sales.

3. Data Management

All companies today deal with a ton of data! Being able to manage that data in an efficient manor is not only highly prized, but a necessity.

We all have these things on our desks called computers. Unless there is a need for a paper copy, almost all of our data is computerized. Meaning that, in theory it is all at our fingertips. Being able to organize that data so that it’s easily and quickly retrievable is why computers are replacing filing cabinets!

However, just like the old fashion filing cabinet, data management on a computer is only good if it’s well organized. You want to make sure that you are keeping your data well organized so that it’s easy to find when needed. This is a skill that comes easily to some people (are you a person that makes lists? Good!) but with others it will be a skill that needs to be practices. Make sure that this is a discipline you master.

4. Scheduling

Being able to make and keep to a schedule is a very useful tool in both business and life. Effective scheduling means that you can prioritize projects, understand the tools needed to get the job done on time and that you are organized enough to lead people.

An important point here is to write things down! Whether it’s in an old fashion daily or weekly organizer or in a PDA. Have a copy of your schedule available at your fingertips at all times.

5. Financial Skills

These are especially important when looking for that promotion. The higher up the ladder you go, the more you’ll have to deal with things like accounting, budgeting, financial planning and cash flow management.

While you may not need to be an expert at all of these, you should have a good grasp of all of them. This is where taking a few night classes at your local community college is a good idea. You don’t need to become an expert, but brushing up on these skills will help you tremendously.

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6. Research Skills

These are important in all aspects of life, but especially in your work-life.

Are you looking for that first job out of school? Nothing impresses a boss or hiring manager more than someone who has researched the company. Trust me, they deal with people walking in off the street everyday looking for a job, but managers and owners need to see the value in hiring (or promoting) you.

So do your research and have some company specific questions ready to ask. Show that you are interested in working for that company or that position and not just “a” job or the “promotion” because you have seniority or need the money.

If it’s a promotion that you are after, never bad mouth the previous occupant. Instead pick out an example that he/she was good at and explain how you would like to use or expand that policy and how it would enhance the policy changes you’d like to make.

If it’s a new job you’re going for, then make sure to have some company specific questions ready to show that you have done your homework for the new position.

7. Marketing Skills

While marketing a companies products or services has always been a highly sought after skill. In today’s world, it can take on several different forms.

Some of the marketing skills that are highly sought after today include, SEO, Search Engine Optimization, SEM, Search Engine Marketing and marketing campaign management. Familiarity with Google Analytics as well as Word Press are also valuable.

While traditional marketing and branding were focused on advertising and selling. Almost all marketing efforts now a days are focused on the internet.

8. Network Security Specialist

Again, this is a highly skilled position that requires specialized training. But the amount of data that all companies store is significant, and if that data is leaked or stolen, it can costs them millions of dollars in both lost revenue and lawsuits.

So, if you have an interest in network security you will find the field both lucrative and stable.

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9. Communication Skills

At first glance, communication skills may not look like it fits into the category of “Hard Skills” that can help you succeed. But in this ever shrinking world where companies can do business from almost anywhere, communication is more and more important.

Are you bilingual? It really doesn’t matter what language you speak, there’s a company out there looking for someone who speaks that language.

10. Computer Programming

I don’t know about you, but I’m pretty sure that computers are going to be around for a while! As both the hardware and software get more advanced, the need for computer programming is only going to increase.

11. Graphic Design

As of 2018, there were 4.37 million new websites launched.[2] A good number of them will fail because they just aren’t interesting enough visually. The use of templates and replicated websites is only making the problem worse.

Part of the way Google ranks sites is through originality, this almost ensures that replicated sites will never get ranked through Google. So the more original your site is, the more likely people will visit and actually spend time there.

That is what a good graphic designer does. Takes your basic idea and turns it into a website that people actually want to visit.

Embrace the Anxiety That Comes with Change

You know it’s going to be there, you know that you’ll want to give up as you’re learning these new skills but, you’ll also know that the end result is worth the journey.

Here’s a little trick when you’re feeling overwhelmed:

Have you ever met an ex-smoker who was sorry they quit? An ex-drinker or drug user that said life was much better before they quit? These people have gone through some of the most difficult challenges humans can go through including weeks, if not, months of intense physical withdrawal symptoms. They did it because they knew that the pain and anxiety they would experience would ultimately get them to a much better life.

Now what was that complaint you had about attending night-school?

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This is the part everyone hates, everyone thinks night-school, adult education and just generally giving up family and/or spare time. While those are certainly possible ways to develop the necessary skills, they aren’t the only way.

You’ll want to check with your human resources department because depending on the company, a certain degree maybe required in order to even be considered for a position. In those cases, night-school, on-line or some other form of adult education maybe your best route.

But as long as a degree isn’t required, then your options are wide open.

Let’s just say that you’re a sales person interested in becoming the sales manager but, the territory you’ve been given will never produce the sales figures that would make you stand out as a good candidate for sales manager. So how about you start your own side business (don’t compete with your company), but let’s say you enjoy golf.

In this day and age, there are plenty of places that will teach you how to sell products on-line and even set you up with your own website. So you start a site selling golf equipment and accessories (don’t worry, you won’t even have to carry inventory or worry about shipping).

Now, when that sales manager spot opens up, you can explain that even though other salespeople had better numbers than you, it had nothing to do with your sales ability, it was more of a consequence of the territory your were given.

And to prove it, you brought in some information about a side business, you started showing that you’re on target for a sales growth rate of 30% this year. And because you had to do all of the marketing for the business, you came up with some marketing strategies that you can bring to the new job (built-in experience).

The Bottom Line

We’ve put together these 11 hard skills as a way to give yourself a “leg up” on the competition. We’ve tried to make this a mixture of both skills that require a great deal of training, and also ones that you can work on and develop by yourself.

We know that not everyone is cut out to be a cloud computing expert, but we also know that working on and having good scheduling skills will make you a much more desirable candidate for the position!

We also don’t want you to discount the idea of a “side hustle“. Especially for people new to the workforce, having a business that you have started and run successfully shows potential employers that you have initiative, scheduling skills and ambition which can put you well ahead of your competition!

As usual, we hope you found this article both enjoyable and informative. If you did, may we ask that you share it with your family and friends through social media. It really does help us and is greatly appreciated!

More Skill to Help Advance Your Career

Featured photo credit: Kyle Sterk via unsplash.com

Reference

[1] Microsoft Azure: Cloud Computing
[2] Netcraft: December 2018 Web Server Survey

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