Working for someone comes with a lot of challenges, but it is even more challenging to be an entrepreneur than to work in corporate America. I didn’t know this until I took the step to become a small business owner myself. Here’s my best attempt to save you some expensive lessons. Here are 7 things I wish I knew before becoming an entrepreneur:
You won’t be an overnight success
There is no shortcut to excellence; excellence is achieved through careful planning, and slow and steady hard work. Nobody has achieved business success through a sudden bright idea. Even some of the blue-chip organizations that people think were overnight successes like Yahoo and Amazon didn’t get to the top overnight.
They had their humble beginnings; some of them took up to 10 years before achieving their dream. Thus, if your dream is to be a billionaire start-up, then keep in mind that you must put in serious work. You will need to work hard, plan well and spend money carefully before you can reap any kind of reward or replace your corporate salary.
Focus on your strengths, and work on your weaknesses
We all have strengths, and this is where your success will actually come from. But, you also need to dedicate time focusing on your weaknesses. When you start working on turning your weakness into strengths, you need to take that into consideration when deciding who to hire or any business partners you bring in to help you in your business. You can also simply outsource it or hire someone to handle that part for you.
Get the right people around you
You are not an island, so you need the help of others to succeed in business. Many start-up organizations fail today simply because they had the wrong people on their team, or didn’t have a team at all. The only remedy is to hire the best people you can find. Hire those that are smarter than you. And take the time to onboard them properly so that they know what you expect and how you want things done. The more time you spend on this the less hiring and retraining you’ll need to do.
Know your ideal customer
Many entrepreneurs find it hard to identify their ideal customers. If you don’t know the right answer to this, it means you will have hard time marketing to the right people. It also means you’ll waste money trying to reach too large a market. Know that not every customer that comes your way is the ideal customer. You need to specialize in serving a particular market. Your niche can be gender and age specific, geographical, or industry specific. Knowing your customers and what they need will lead to more sales. Focus on the right customers, and you will build a great reputation.
Learn from the mistakes of others
A wise entrepreneur learns from the mistakes of others. She doesn’t need to make a mistake before she can learn from it. Take the time to study why so many businesses in your niche have failed. When you discover the answers, take precautions so that you don’t go down the same road. This will save you a lot of stress, money and time.
Prepare yourself mentally to face stress
As an entrepreneur, the buck stops with you. Stressful situations will come from time to time, but do not allow it to overwhelm you. The two things you can always affect if your attitude and your actions. If you give in to overwhelm it will make you not be able to function effectively and your business won’t survive that. Make sure you have a circle of other entrepreneurs who are a confidential sounding board for you. If you are a home-based business, get out of the house twice a week, even if its just to go to a local coffee shop to work. Just make sure that you are not isolating yourself, that only makes it worse. In the course of running your business, you will always encounter stressful times. But in most cases trouble is temporary. Learn to be a great decision maker and risk taker, it will keep you sane.
Have milestones and track them
Understand your value proposition, and this is the most effective way of motivating people to buy your products or services. You need to make sure you have monthly sales goals, which will translate into weekly sales goals, you need to stay on top this in terms of how much marketing activities must take place to make these goals happen. Develop your product/service design, branding and marketing to be truly unique and appealing. People should be convinced about you and the value you bring. This will help to take your business to the next level.
If you embrace these 7 elements I shared, you will build a business ready to be a success. Try to learn expensive lessons once, and realize that like your business, you are a work in progress too, so cut yourself some slack. Success can be yours.
About the Author.
Mike Jones is the founder of How to Start an LLC.org, where he teaches people about navigating the bureaucracy and provides simple guides to starting your own business. Mike is a serial entrepreneur who believes company formation should be the least painful part of building a business and has set out to make it easier.