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Last Updated on July 21, 2021

23 Tips for New Entrepreneurs to Get Your Business Underway

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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

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David Carpenter

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

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Last Updated on August 25, 2021

Why Personal Branding Is Important to Your Career

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Why Personal Branding Is Important to Your Career

As a recruiter, I have met and interviewed hundreds of candidates who have no idea who they are.

Without a personal brand, candidates struggle to answer the question: “tell me about yourself—who are you?” They have no idea about who they are, what their strengths are, and how they can add value to the company. They present their CV’s believing that their CV is the key to their career success. In some ways, your CV still has its use. However, in today’s job market, you need more than a CV to stand out in a crowd.

According to Celinne Da Costa:[1]

“Personal brand is essentially your golden ticket to networking with the right people, getting hired for a dream job, or building an influential business.” She believes that “a strong personal brand allows you to stand out in an oversaturated marketplace by exposing desired audiences to your vision, skillset, and personality in a way that is strategically aligned with your career goals.”

A personal brand opens up your world to so many more career opportunities that you would never have been exposed to with just your CV.

What Is Your Personal Brand?

“Personal branding is how you distinctively market your uniqueness.” —Bernard Kelvin Clive

Today, the job market is very competitive and tough. Having a great CV will only let you go so far because everyone has a CV, but no one else has your distinct personal brand! It is your personal brand that differentiates you from everyone else and that is what people buy—you.

Your personal brand is your mark on the world. It is how people you interact with and the world see you. It is your legacy—it is more important than a business brand because your personal brand lasts forever.

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I have coached people who have very successful careers, and they come to me because they have suddenly found that they are not getting the opportunities or having the conversations that would them to their next role. They are having what I call a “career meltdown,” all because they have no personal brand.

A personal brand helps you become conscious of your differences and your uniqueness. It allows you to position yourself in a way that makes you stand out from the pack, especially among other potential job applicants.

Don’t get me wrong, having a great CV and a great LinkedIn profile is important. However, there are a few steps that you have to take to have a CV and LinkedIn profile that is aligned to who you are, the value you offer to the market, and the personal guarantee that you deliver results.

Building your personal brand is about strategically, creatively, and professionally presenting what makes you, you. Knowing who you are and the value you bring to the table enables you to be more informed, agile, and adaptable to the changing dynamic world of work. This is how you can avoid having a series of career meltdowns.

Your Personal Brand Is Essential for Your Career Success

In her article, Why Personal Branding Is More Important Than Ever, Caroline Castrillon outlines key reasons why a personal brand is essential for career success.

According to Castrillon,[2]

“One reason is that it is more popular for recruiters to use social media during the interview process. According to a 2018 CareerBuilder survey, 70% of employers use social media to screen candidates during the hiring process, and 43% of employers use social media to check on current employees.”

The first thing I do as a recruiter when I want to check out a candidate or coaching client is to look them up on LinkedIn or other social media platforms, such as Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter. Your digital footprint is the window that highlights to the world who you are. When you have no control over how you want to be seen, you are making a big mistake because you are leaving it up to someone else to make a judgment for you as to who you are.

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As Jeff Bezos, the founder of Amazon, once said, “Your brand is what people say about you when you are not in the room.”

In her book, Becoming, Michelle Obama writes about the importance of having a personal brand and her journey to defining her personal brand. She wrote that:

“if you don’t get out there and define yourself, you’ll be quickly and inaccurately defined by others.”

When you have a personal brand, you are in control. You know exactly what people will say about you when you leave the room.

The magic of a personal brand is that gives you control over how you want to be seen in the world. Your confidence and self-belief enable you to leverage opportunities and make informed decisions about your career and your future. You no longer experience the frustrations of a career meltdown or being at a crossroads not knowing what to do next with your career or your life. With a personal brand, you have focus, clarity, and a strategy to move forward toward future success.

Creating your personal brand does not happen overnight. It takes a lot of work and self-reflection. You will be expected to step outside of your comfort zone not once, but many times.

The good news is that the more time you spend outside of your comfort zone, the more you will like being there. Being outside of your comfort zone is where you can test the viability of and fine-tune your personal brand.

5 Key Steps to Creating Your Personal Brand

These five steps will help you create a personal brand that will deliver you the results you desire with your career and in life.

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1. Set Your Personal Goals

What is it that you want to do in the next five years? What will your future self be doing in the next five to ten years? What is important to you? If you can answer these questions, then you are on the right path. If not, then you have to start thinking about them.

2. Create Your Unique Value Proposition

Create your unique value proposition by asking yourself these four questions:

  1. What are your personality features? What benefit do you offer people?
  2. Who are you and why do people enjoy working with you?
  3. What do you do and what do people want you to do for them? How do you solve their problems?
  4. What makes you different from others like you?

The answers to these questions will give you the information you need to create your professional story, which is the key step to creating your personal brand.

3. Write Your Professional Story

Knowing who you are, what you want, and the unique value you offer is essential to you creating your professional story. People remember stories. Your personal story incorporates your value proposition and tells people who you are and what makes you unique. This is what people will remember about you.

4. Determine Which Platforms Will Support Your Personal Brand

Decide which social media accounts and online platforms will best represent your brand and allow you to share your voice. In a professional capacity, having a LinkedIn profile and a CV that reflects your brand is key to your positioning in relation to role opportunities. People will be connecting with you because they will like the story you are telling.

5. Become Recognized for Sharing Your Knowledge and Expertise

A great way for you to promote yourself is by sharing knowledge and helping others. This is where you prove you know your stuff and you gain exposure for doing so. You can do this through social media, writing, commenting, video, joining professional groups, networking, etc. Find your own style and uniqueness and use it to attract clients, the opportunities, or the jobs you desire.

The importance of having a personal brand is not going to go away. In fact, it is the only way where you can stand out and be unique in a complex changing world of work. If you don’t have a personal brand, someone will do it for you. If you let this happen, you have no control and you may not like the story they create.

Standing out from others takes time and investment. Most people cannot make the change by themselves, and this is where engaging a personal brand coach is a viable option to consider.

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As a personal brand coach, working with my clients to create their personal brand is my passion. I love the fact that we can work together to create a personal story that defines exactly what people will say when you leave the room.

Other People’s Stories

Listening to other people’s stories is a great way to learn. In his article, 7 TED Talks About Personal Branding, Rafael Dos Santos presents the best Ted Talks where speakers share their stories about the “why,” “what,” and “how” of personal branding.((GuidedPR: 7 TED Talks About Personal Branding))

Take some time out to listen to these speakers sharing their stories and thoughts about personal branding. You will definitely learn so much about how you can start your journey of defining yourself and taking control of your professional and personal life.

Your personal brand, without a doubt, is your secret weapon to your career success. As Michelle Obama said,

“your story is what you have, what you will always have. It is something to own.”

So, go own your story. Go on the journey to create your personal brand that defines who you are, highlights your uniqueness, and the value you offer to the world.

Featured photo credit: Austin Distel via unsplash.com

Reference

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