Business empires that have been built from scratch and have risen to be multimillion dollar companies are becoming common. We hear a lot of inspiring stories of business start ups founded on garages and kitchens and went on becoming worldwide corporations. Can you do the same? Yes! But before you plunge right into the business world, here are some hot tips that can help you avoid a lot of business starters’ sting.
1. Start with a product or service that you will buy
Do you have something worthy enough for people to appreciate and value? Will you be willing to pay for it? How much? If you have doubts as to the value of your product or service, others will have too.
2. Know your motivation
What do you want to accomplish with your business? Do you want to earn money, get rich, be influential, be financially secured, help other people, preserve nature, save animals, or just do what you love doing? Having awareness of your big goals will help a lot to keep you going.
3. Do not be afraid to ask
Learn as much as you can about your product, the industry, and the processes. Not just the managers and engineers, but everyone who have actually been in the industry more than you do – the bankers, the machine operators, the servers, the clerks, and even the security people. You will always learn something valuable.
4. Know everything about your target market
Know as much as you can about your target market. How much they earn, needs, spending habits, motivation, and how much their disposable income are just some details that could help you price, market, and position your product more competitively.
5. Build a brand
More than your product or service, build a brand for your company. How do you want your customers to see you? Are you the caring family brand, the trendy provider, or the innovative leader? Brands should be unique to you and consistent with your product and goals.
6. Know your competitors
Who are your direct and indirect competitors? What are their marketing strategies and how can you possibly beat them? Start ups who ignore the competition end up losing big.
7. Factor in possible threats to the business
Business is a risk, and those who succeed are those who have learned how to effectively manage risks. Fires, lawsuits, theft, natural calamities, fashion trends, and technological advancements are something that you should always factor in.
8. Comply with all legal paperwork
Set up your books of accounts, draw up incorporation or partnership agreements, register your business, and protect assets with patents and trademarks. These legal requirements are inexpensive compared to what you will lose in the future if your business is unprotected and improperly set up.
9. Shop for investors
Do not let the lack of capital hinder you from starting up a business. There are a lot of investors who are also looking for great investment opportunities. Many are specifically looking into start ups with great possibilities.
10. Look around for suppliers
Get the best deals by shopping around for suppliers. You might have to pay higher at the beginning, but never compromise quality, availability, and supply.
11. Test your product
Get your product out as soon as you can. Distribute samples and try to gauge the people’s reaction to your product. Try to ask few questions and get feedback that could help you improve the product.
12. Set up an open communication line with your customers
Encourage customers to provide feedback. Seek their opinion. Take advantage of the social media to effectively reach out to your clients with minimal expense. Actively communicating with your clientele will make them feel valued and recognised, which will develop product loyalty.
13. Satisfy customers with better value
Complaints are common. Satisfy clients with better value instead of offering a discount. They will appreciate the added value for their money while you maintain the price standing of your product.
14. Happy customers multiply
Satisfied and happy clients are your best marketers. They will introduce you and your product to their friends and family. This works both ways, a dissatisfied customer is also your most effective de-marketer.
15. Marketing is an integral business expense
Set aside a portion of your operating budget for marketing, promotion, and advertisement. Before you generate income, you first need to connect with the people who will pay for your product.
16. Recognise the value of networking
It pays to know the right people, and it’s never good to keeping enemies in business. Value every acquaintance and relationship you have in the industry. Many start ups have been built among friends.
17. Hire the right people
Hire people you need. Determine what you need, create a job description, and find the person who will perfectly fit the position. Bring only people who can contribute value into the company.
18. Know your responsibilities as an employer
Once people are hired, you are directly responsible for their welfare, see to it that you are complaint with your legal requirements as an employer. And keep in mind that you are also a team.
19. Happy employees will take care of your customers
Your employees are your most dynamic assets. Disgruntled employees are costly, they can leave you and waste your resources. On the other hand, happy employees are loyal, devoted, and translate to better service, more customers, and higher revenues.
20. Learn how to delegate effectively
As much as you want to, you can never take care of everything. There will be a point where you will need to delegate tasks and duties. To delegate properly, you have to find the right person, train thoroughly, and transfer both authority and responsibility.
21. Manage your time
Don’t sweat the small stuff. Focus on things that really matters and those that you enjoy doing. Let other people handle the rest.
22. Put premium on cash flow
Start earning as soon as you can. Keep close tabs on your cash flow, accounts receivables, and liquidity. A lot of start ups tend to focus on the product innovation and forget the business side.
23. Overestimate costs and underestimate earnings
Excess in the operating budget will not go anywhere, but a short can disrupt production and other business processes. Same goes for the earnings, underestimating will keep your costs lower, and take the pressure off investors.
24. Never combine business with personal finances
Create a business account, to be used solely for the business, before you start operations. Combining business and personal finances can only lead to disaster.
25. Keep a close eye on costs
Always try to find a way to lower your overhead. Negotiate bulk discounts from suppliers, multi-task employees, or go paperless. But never ever compromise the quality of your service or product.
26. Pay your bills – always, on time
The fastest way downhill is not paying debts, resulting to expensive lawsuits, high interest rates, and a bad credit score. Keep suppliers and lenders happy. Trusted creditors get lower rates, privilege deals, higher credit limits, and faster approvals.
27. Have a mentor
Have somebody you can honestly talk to, discuss the business with, and motivate you. Your ideal mentor is someone who is also knowledgeable of the business, has experience, and the wisdom. Most importantly, he or she is someone you highly respect and truly believe in.
28. Set goals and celebrate each milestone
Set a big ultimate goal, and create steps or milestones. If the ultimate goal is $1,000,000 income a year, do not wait for it to happen before you give yourself a pat on the back. Celebrate every achievement – the first time you cleared overhead, the first $100,000, or the time you reached $250,000. Remember to include your entire team in the celebration.
29. Don’t stop innovating and improving
People will always be looking for something new or different. Keep your clients’ attention and loyalty by giving them wider choices, better value, and improved products.
30. Keep learning
An entrepreneur never really stops learning. Knowledge offers options, and options lead to more opportunities. A lot of successful start ups begun with one product or business, ventured into more, and ended up being large conglomerates.
31. Stay healthy
Your body is your biggest asset. Even the brightest mind will dim with an unhealthy body. Invest on your health. Eat well, exercise, and get enough rest.
32. Keep your family happy
Your family is your strongest and best support system. Work is more inspired and focused if the home front is happy and supportive.
33. Plan holidays, take them too
Learn to pace yourself. Running a business is a marathon, not a sprint. Holidays are significant breaks to refresh your mind, rejuvenate the body, and re-ignite your passion.
34. Sometimes you gain, sometimes you learn
One failure is only one mistake uncovered. Do not let it define you or your company. Learn from the mistake, and start rebuilding. It is useless to focus on what is lost when there are a lot to be gained.
35. Stop now if you don’t plan on working hard
The reason why there are only a handful of successful moguls and tycoons compared to the number of people who dreamt of becoming one and even started on their entrepreneurial journey is hard work. The harder you work, the better are your chances of succeeding. Anticipate a lot of hard work, missed nights out with the buddies, and lazy evenings.
Do not only focus on the wins and glamorous side of success stories of business start ups. You will learn a lot from knowing the sacrifices, the hardwork, and the frustrations involved in running and growing a business. Let the glitzy part motivate and inspire you, and the gritty side prepare and educate you of what’s to expect and how to better navigate your road to success.