Starting a business can be a thrilling yet challenging endeavor. If you want to “kill” it, here are seven items that are critical to success. Learning the ropes of running one successfully can feel like a roller coaster ride, and sometimes all you want to do is make it stop!
Despite the challenges, it’s exciting and rewarding, and if you’re built for it, it can mean the difference between existing in this world and thriving in it. That said, there are some things we wish we knew before starting a business. Below are our top five.
Mindset is Crucial
Having the right mindset is a critical factor in the success of your business. A positive and resilient attitude can help you overcome the challenges that inevitably arise when starting a new venture and allow you to pivot when necessary. Ultimately, your relationship with your business will determine your level of freedom and how content and satisfied you feel once you achieve it.
Tips for developing a growth mindset:
- Shift your focus from viewing your business as a means to make money to a relationship you love and embrace.
- Surround yourself with positive and supportive people who believe in your vision and can offer encouragement and advice.
- Focus on what you love about your business and what sets you apart from the competition.
- Cultivate gratitude and appreciate the small wins along the way.
- Embrace change and uncertainty, and view challenges as opportunities to grow and learn.
Some examples of successful entrepreneurs with a growth mindset are Jeff Bezos, founder of Amazon, and Elon Musk, founder of Tesla and SpaceX. Sympathy or hate them, they both have a long-term vision for their theories and are not afraid to take risks, make changes, or even fail. Failure is growth, too, when you have the right frame of mind about your business.
Risk is inherent in business. Entrepreneurs and founders may risk their own money, family and friends’ money, and investors’ money without guaranteeing success. Even if they do everything right, a key supplier could go bankrupt, or a pandemic could spread across the globe at precisely the wrong time. The risk of failure looms over every enterprise, and many entrepreneurs fail along the way in their efforts to build and launch a business. Making changes and learning from failures mitigates risk and can lead to long-term success.
Entrepreneurs can also manage risk, mitigating factors that could overwhelm a business. While billionaire “Mr. Wonderful,” Mark O’Leary, a TV Shark Tank panel member, says, “I’d rather invest in an entrepreneur who has failed before than one who assumes success from day one.”
O’Leary will measure a person by what they do rather than what they think is best. Making an attempt and failing is not the problem, so long as the fundamentals are strong. Entitlement, however, will never drive someone to work hard.
Preparedness is Underrated
There’s no question that some people will often leap before looking when launching a new venture. Sometimes it works, but more often, it doesn’t. Proper preparation is critical to the success of any new business. It is essential to have a clear understanding of your market, a solid business plan, and realistic financial projections before launching. Starting out might feel like overkill, but that prep will help you make informed decisions and avoid common pitfalls. If there is one Golden Rule to remember about preparedness, failure to plan means you plan to fail.
Tips for adequate preparation:
- Research your market and understand your target audience. Who are they, what do they need, and how can you meet their needs better than the competition?
- Create a comprehensive business plan that outlines your vision, mission, goals, and strategies. This will serve as a roadmap for your business and help you stay focused.
- Understand your financial projections and ensure you have enough capital to sustain your business for the first few years.
- Seek advice from experienced entrepreneurs, business coaches, or consultants. They can offer valuable insights and help you avoid common pit critical triticale Blakely, the founder of Spanx, is an excellent example. She started by building financial projections looking over a year in advance, developing and researching her idea before launching her fashion line, and creating a business plan. She also sought advice from experienced entrepreneurs and industry experts, which helped her avoid common mistakes and make more informed decisions. Her prep paid off, wouldn’t you?
Seek Feedback and Mentorship
Innovative entrepreneurs admit when they don’t know something. In these instances, it’s wise to reach out for guidance. It helps to have a mentor with experience who can provide valuable insights, especially in areas where an entrepreneur may lack expertise.
More than 90% of surveyed small to medium business owners said mentors had a direct impact on the growth and survival of their business, according to a study in Forbes.
Mentorship and feedback can come from various sources, including other consultants, business partners, entrepreneurs, investors, and informal advisors. They can provide outside, objective perspectives from different experiences. Finding mentors takes time but can pay off in the long run.
Networking is Always Valuable
Though it sometimes now has some iffy connotations when you hear the word networking, mingling with like-minded people is a helpful strategy for any entrepreneur.
Building relationships with other entrepreneurs, industry leaders, and potential customers can help you find new opportunities, gain valuable insights, and develop relationships that may well move your business to heights you never expected.
You never know, so why waste potential?
Tips for effective networking:
- Attend events and conferences in your industry. This is a great way to meet new people and learn about the latest trends and innovations.
- Join a local business organization or entrepreneur group. You can network with other like-minded individuals and share your experiences.
- Connect with potential customers and industry leaders through social media. Platforms like LinkedIn and Twitter can be a great way to build relationships and showcase your expertise.
- Seek out a mentor or business coach who can offer guidance and support.
Mark Zuckerberg, the founder of Facebook, is a well-known example of how networking can lead to success. He connected with other tech entrepreneurs at Harvard and eventually co-founded Facebook with fellow students, or so the story goes.
The truth is that technology can be a game-changer for small businesses today, offering newer and more innovative ways to reach customers and streamline operations than ever. It has revolutionized how we operate, and entrepreneurs who leverage it effectively will have a significant advantage.
You can use tech not just to increase efficiency but also to reach a wider audience. Plus, by automating some of the more mundane stuff, you can focus more on your customers, which is right where it should be.
Tips to leverage tech in your business:
- Utilize social media to reach potential customers and build your brand. Platforms like Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter can be a great way to connect with your audience and showcase your products or services.
- Implement email marketing to reach your customers and keep them informed about your business. This is a cost-effective way to build relationships and drive sales.
- Use cloud-based software to manage your operations and increase efficiency. This can include tools like QuickBooks for accounting, Asana for project management, and Zoom for virtual meetings.
- Invest in a robust website that showcases your products or services and makes it easy for customers to engage with your business.
- Consider mobile technologies, such as mobile apps or mobile-responsive websites, to reach customers on the go.
Slack, the self-proclaimed communication platform for teams, is an excellent example of a company that leverages technology to streamline operations and increase efficiency. It’s become a popular tool for businesses of all sizes to manage projects, share files, and communicate with each other in real-time. Would they be as successful as the tech? Probably not. Hop off the complaint train and embrace technology.
Adopt a Customer-First Approach
Your customers should always be the center of your business. After all, no customers mean no business, and it’s genuinely that simple. However, understanding and prioritizing your customers’ needs is more complex but still crucial.
By putting your customers first, you can build strong relationships, drive long-term growth for your business, build a loyal following, and create a positive reputation. All awesome things if you want your business to be an industry leader.
Tips to keep your customers in the first place:
- Provide excellent customer service. Respond to customer inquiries and concerns promptly and effectively, and go above and beyond to meet their needs.
- Listen to your customers and be open to feedback. This will help you understand their needs and improve your products or services.
- Always put your customers’ needs first. This means making decisions based on what is best for them rather than what is best for your business.
- Be open to change and evolution. As your customers’ needs evolve, be willing to adapt and evolve your products or services to meet those needs.
Zappos, the online shoe retailer, is an excellent example of a company that prioritizes its customers. They have a strong focus on providing exceptional customer service, and they go above and beyond to meet the needs of their customers. This has helped them build a loyal following and drive long-term growth for their business.
Starting a business requires a lot of nerve if we’re engaging in real talk, and it’s a delicate combo of mindset, prep, relationships, tech, and customer-centeredness. But if you hit these seven key areas, you’ll do well.
Want to learn more? Talk to us!