Starting your own business can be rewarding. In fact, it may be one of the most rewarding things you can do in life. Perhaps you want to do it because you’re tired of working for someone else, or maybe you’re just looking for a way to bring in some additional income.
Whatever the reason may be, there is a treasure trove of things you’ll need to know when taking on such a hefty task. As rewarding as it can be (and it is); it’s also hard work. Frustration can set in. There are a lot of things to know about starting your own business. Too many to cover in a single article.
However, these top 10 will help you get started.
1. You Don’t Know Everything
The harsh reality of starting your own business is that as much as you might know; you don’t know it all. If you’re a freelance writer, for example, you may know a lot about syntax and have strong opinions on the Oxford comma, but you may not know much about accounting or marketing.
So you don’t know everything. And here’s the thing: that’s okay. You can’t (and won’t) know it all. However, have the awareness to know this, and be willing to seek out the knowledge you’ll need to be successful.
Take an accounting class, attend an online webinar for a crash course in digital marketing. There are numerous places to do this online that are low-cost or even free. Pop on over to SkillShare and search through hundreds of online tutorials to get started.
When starting your own business, always be learning. In fact….
2. Become a Lifelong Learner
We cannot stress the importance of this enough. Just like the likelihood of a freelance writer knowing everything about accounting is slim, it’s also unlikely for them to know everything there is to know about writing. Read books and blogs on your field, attend conventions, subscribe to trade magazines. Whatever you need to do to continue learning: do it. Knowledge is your most valuable resource.
3. Most Businesses Fail
According to Forbes, 90% of all startup businesses fail. While this statistic seems grim, it’s important to keep it in the back of your mind while you’re moving forward. Some of today’s greatest innovators have had setbacks and failures. You likely will too.
That’s not to say you should plan to fail. Certainly not. Rather, that 90% should serve as a reminder: starting a business is hard work. Be prepared.
4. Have A Plan
If you think business plans are a waste of time, you’re sadly mistaken. Everyone from your local corner store to IBM started with a business plan, and you should too. Don’t know how to write one? That’s fine. Just start planning. Put it down on paper. A business plan does not have to be 100 pages long. It can be 10 pages.
Among the things your plan should cover includes:
- The key individuals involved in the business and their responsibilities
- Company mission statement
- Explanation of products and services
- Marketing plans
- Financial information
- Target market
- And more….
As the saying goes: if you fail to plan, you plan to fail. Your business plan doesn’t need to be 100 pages long and bound in leather. It can begin as a single page written by hand. The key is to start planning before you act. Just start writing, you can always add and change things as time goes on.
5. It Takes Time
Contrary to what you might think, the world is rarely waiting for you to start your own business so they can shower you with riches. The good news is that it’s not waiting to tear you down either. Depending on what type of business you’re starting, realize that actually generating revenue will take time. This can be especially true for online endeavors.
If possible, keep your nine to five gig until you start seeing some steady cash flow that you can live with. For freelancers, this means staying part-time until you can start replacing your income with regular work. The nature of freelance work is that it’s a series of ups and downs. It can be a grind. Lock in a few regular clients and make sure that going full-time is a net positive instead of a step back.
6. Find a Mentor
Having a mentor to guide you along the way is one of the most invaluable moves a new business owner can make. Full of wisdom, coaching, and support; mentors will advocate for you, and be there to answer your questions along the way.
Mentors can be found in the form of others in your industry, people you meet at conventions, past co-workers or bosses, etc. They can be anyone with experience and insight to offer you. Their guidance and advice when starting your own business can be invaluable.
7. Network with Other People in the Industry
Any business coach will tell you “always be talking about your business.” This is especially true when it comes to others in your industry. You’d be amazed what a chance encounter at a convention can lead to. Put yourself out there, speak early and often about your business, and form connections with others. You never know where it might take you.
8. Learn from the Mistakes of Others
Otto von Bismark once said:
“Only a fool learns from his own mistakes. The wise man learns from the mistakes of others.”
With the life knowledge of others who have been in your position, you should be cautious of making the same mistakes that they made. Of course, every business and situation is different, but odds are good that your mentor knows a few things you don’t. The same can be said from about the network you’ve been cultivating and building. Take their experiences as truth, not with a grain of salt.
9. Take Your Time. Do It Right.
Remember when we said that you need to realize that you don’t know everything? This is where that comes into play. Starting a business requires more than simply buying a domain name and slapping a website together. There are legal requirements that come with starting a business, including legal formation and tax status. If you’re starting a business that will occupy a physical space, there’s constructions costs, building codes, and a lot of paper work associated with all of it.
Knowing that you don’t know everything is important. Knowing when it’s time to rely on professionals is just as important. Don’t skimp when it comes to getting started. Do it the right way.
10. Remember To Come Up For Air
There’s a fine line (but there IS a line) between hard-working and obsessed. Remember to make time for yourself. It’s often said that entrepreneurs work 80 hours a week so they can avoid working 40. This is true, but take things in moderation when starting your own business.
If you find yourself saying things like: “Well, I bet Steve Jobs never took a day off!” stop yourself. He absolutely did. And so did Bill Gates, Mark Zuckerberg, Elon Musk, and Warren Buffett.
There is plenty of hard work ahead of you. Trust us, this won’t be easy. But you aren’t doing yourself (or your business) any favors if you don’t take a break to recharge every now and then.