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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

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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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Published on January 20, 2020

What are Goals? Achieve More By Changing Your Perspectives

What are Goals? Achieve More By Changing Your Perspectives

As simple as it sounds, the question, what are goals, is a very important question to answer if making the best out of our daily lives is something of great concern.

Anyone will assume they already know what goals are, they’ve probably been setting goals all their lives. However, when we get too familiar with certain concepts, we tend to forget their real meaning and essence. Hence, it is not surprising that people set many goals but achieve too little.

When you don’t understand what goals are or what they are meant to be, you might scribble anything on paper and call them goals and then get frustrated when you fail to achieve them.

There are different perspectives on goals and what they represent. However, this article looks into the real meaning of goals and provides clarity on some misconceptions about goals. It also suggests better ways to look at goals; in a way to use them as progress markers rather than yardsticks for measuring success or failure.

What Are Goals?

There are different definitions of goal(s) out there, however, let’s look at this one from the early pioneers in goal-setting theory:[1]

A goal is an idea of the future or desired result that a person or a group of people envision, plan and commit to achieve.

Goals represent the decisions we make and the commitments we take in order to reach attainment, break some bad habits, adopt useful habits or achieve more in different areas of life.

Goals enable us to achieve focus in life by helping us to determine what we want. They keep us motivated and propelled, constantly putting us in state of action.

Goals, when properly conceived and pursued can help us to maximize the one and only life we have to live.

Goals can be applied to different areas of our lives and they can also be based on a time range. For example, life-based goals can be personal development goals, career goals, educational goals, health goals, family and relationship goals, spiritual goals, social goals, etc.

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Moreso, goals can be set based on time and duration such as life-time goals, long term goals, short term goals and even stepping stone goals which are small unit goals that we undertake in order to achieve the short, long and lifetime goals.

Common Confusions About Goals

In order to put goals in their proper perspectives and make the most of them, certain clarifications are required between goals and its related concepts.

The following are often confused with goals, although they have their own relevance on goals and goal setting:

Goal vs Dream

Dreams are aspirations fuelled by desires. They exist in the realm of imagination and often give us inspiration.

However, goals are action-based. Goals stretch us and help us to achieve results. Our dreams can only be actualized by setting realistic goals and working diligently to achieve them.

Goal vs Vision

Visions are important in life but they are not the same as goals. Your vision represents where you want to go or be in life, a destination you aim to arrive at. However, the paths that will get you to that destination are often undefined until you break them down into goals.

Goals help you to understand and quantify the steps you will have to take in order to actualize your vision. Having a broader life vision will help you to achieve more goals.

Besides, vision will bring focus to your goal setting when your goals are directed at getting you to the final destination of your vision. When this happens, you will not only be satisfied with achieving a particular goal, you will view your progress and success in terms of their contribution to your overall vision.

Goal vs Expectation

Goals should not be confused with expectations. Expectations are things that we think we should have or heights we feel we should attain. It is said that expectations can generate frustration when you feel you aren’t performing up to your potential.[2]

Do you notice that when some Olympic teams are being interviewed before a tournament, many of them expect to win a medal? But do all of them win medals?

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When you listen to the real winners after the tournament, they will tell you how their goals helped them to structure their attention and focus, and keep them involved to strive for excellence.

Goals demand more focus and clarity whereas expectations are often not realistic.

Goal vs Desire

We all have desires, they represent the things we want. However, in order to get our desires, we might have to set goals.

While desires are usually pleasant, goals may not be.

For example, slimming down feels good, but exercising does not. But it takes a reasonable amount of exercise to burn fat.

Vacationing on a cruise ship feels good, who doesn’t want it? However, working extra hours to save money for the trip is hard.

Goals are the specific actions we set to accomplish in order to satisfy our desires.

Goal vs Objective

Objectives are the tasks we must accomplish in order to achieve our goals. It will be more useful to differentiate between goal and objective by looking at the differences between a broader term G’SOT which stands for Goals, Strategies, Objectives, and Tactics.[3]

  • A goal is a broad primary outcome
  • A strategy is the approach you take to achieve a goal
  • An objective is a measurable step you take to achieve a strategy
  • A tactic is a tool you use in pursuing an objective associated with a strategy.

The Intel example below is also useful to illustrate the difference:

Goal: Make our Core PC microprocessors a category leader in sales revenue by year X

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Strategy: Persuade buyers that our Core processors are the best one the market by associating with large, well-established PC manufacturers.

Objective: Retain 70 percent or more of the active worldwide PC microprocessor market, according to Passmark’s CPU benchmark report.

Tactic: Through creative that underlies our messaging, leverage hardware partner brand awareness to include key messages about the Intel Inside program.

What Most People Are Wrong About Goals

According to a study, only 8 percent of people get to achieve their goals.[4] When goals are not properly conceived or when we go about goals with the wrong perspectives, we might not be able to achieve our goals and even get frustrated as a result.

Some people have abandoned their goals or given up on setting goals altogether as a result. Others have gotten to the point of staying frustrated for failing to achieve their goals. These are not unconnected to the misconceptions that many have about goals.

Let’s look at the misconceptions about goals:

Goals Are Used as the Only Measure of Success?

When goals become our only measure of success, we might get obsessed with the results we want to achieve that we don’t consider the process that will lead us there.

Process goals and outcome goals come to mind on this. Most people set outcome goals rather than process goals. Outcome goals are only based on results while process goals are based on undertaking the right activities that will eventually lead to a great outcome.

Let’s say I currently make $1000 a week and then I set a goal of making $2000 but only ended up with $1300 after putting in all the work and strategies. If this is an outcome goal, I would probably be unhappy for not attaining my goal. However, if it’s a process goal, I would be happy that I have improved on my earning and would be motivated to do more.

Goals Are Connected with Happiness?

Another myth about goals is that achieving them brings happiness. Of course, it feels good to shed the weight or spend a vacation on a cruise ship. However, there are no guarantees that you will always be able to achieve all your set goals.

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In order not to get frustrated often, choose to always be a happy person rather than letting outcomes determine your happiness.

Redefining Goals

So, what really are goals if you want to succeed with them?

Goals Aren’t Connected with Deep Ambitions

Many people have the wrong motivation to set goals. They might have been genuinely inspired by what they see other people achieve, however, such goals may not connect with their deepest ambition. This might lead to a lack of the required motivation to pursue and achieve the goals.

Genuine goals must connect to a bigger and broader life vision. Goals are not an end in themselves, they are supposed to be stepping stones to achieving something bigger.

Goals Have to Be Achieved to Prove Commitment

If the target is to achieve ten and you are only able to achieve six, it doesn’t mean that you are not committed. It might have been that there are greater obstacles you didn’t think would come up.

This is why your goals must be flexible, adjustable and reflective of current realities.

The Bottom Line

Hopefully, the ideas shared above will help you to set the right goals and put them in the right perspectives.

You have seen that it is more appropriate to set goals that fit into a larger, broader vision of your life. This will help you to begin to see your goals in terms of the progress you are making towards your broader vision rather than on specific outcomes. You will become happier, knowing that you are taking specific steps in the right direction irrespective of what the immediate results look like.

All these will altogether help you to love setting goals again, and enable you to make the most of them in order to make your life count.

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Featured photo credit: Dan DeAlmeida via unsplash.com

Reference

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