— August 6, 2019
Becoming an entrepreneur isn’t just another career choice – it’s a life calling. Starting your first business is a thrilling venture and one of the most exciting things you’ll ever do in your life.
However, it’s not uncommon for first time entrepreneurs to experience a great deal of fear and uncertainty as well. It is a veritable challenge to take the plunge and begin a business of your own, because not every small business is situated for success.
Statistically speaking, approximately 66% of businesses with employees are expected to survive at least two years, whereas about 50% survive the first five years.
To make things more challenging, as an entrepreneur, you must set the stage for success right at the beginning if you want to beat the competition and establish yourself in the long run.
Of course, this is the time when you will be seeking words of wisdom from every business owner you know.
Unfortunately, aspiring entrepreneurs are often met with a world of conflicting advice – right at a time when a clear, focused mind is of the essence.
In the midst your first business launch, you will be busy managing the seemingly endless marketing, financial, legal, staffing, and customer issues.
During this phase, I’d encourage first time business owners to remember these 5 simple lessons that most up-and-comers and established entrepreneurs learn the hard way:
1. Keep a One-Track Mind
It’s normal for first-time business owners to want to grab onto every opportunity that comes their way. And yet, not every opportunity that glitters is gold. It is imperative that you avoid getting side-tracked from your primary purpose.
Focus on expertly accomplishing one – at the most two – tasks. In the struggle to juggle several offerings, you will spread yourself too thin and limit not only your productivity but also your efficiency. Do not jump into multiple ventures, services, or products in the get-go, hoping that at least one might prove successful and make you money.
Another factor that needs to be on top of your mind is the fact that you are now managing a lot of stress on behalf of your company. Every entrepreneur has felt the weight of the business world on their shoulders; and this stress is certainly not for the faint-hearted. By focusing on your purpose and keeping a track of your expenses, you can turn that stress into a driving force that fuels your productivity and innovative thinking.
2. Don’t Be Shy About Explaining Your Brainchild
Nobody knows your brainchild better than you, the creator of the business surrounding it. You must be able to go passionately in-depth regarding what your business is all about.
Compose a thorough, detailed proposal that is ready to be presented to banks, vendors, and any other interested parties. Be sure to include all expected start-up costs as well as on-going expenses in the proposal.
Moreover, you should always be prepared to launch into a succinct explanation of what exactly is the purpose of your business, as well as a crucial step by step on how you are going to set it up.
3. Never underestimate the significance of a professional network
A lot of first-time entrepreneurs neglect this important tool in the effort to devote all their time and attention to their company.
However, building a strong professional community is paramount for supporting a burgeoning business.
The great thing about being connected to a group of diverse people across the world is that you’ll have access to their distinctive skills and be able to learn from their unique experiences.
You’ll therefore be able to develop new and creative insights about your industry, get different perspectives on your competitors, and market your brand even more effectively.
Most importantly, in the process of investing time and effort into your work network, you will develop professional relationships that can one day turn into collaborations, partnerships, and even hiring opportunities.
4. Finance Like a Start-up, Spend Like a Start-up
If you don’t want to end up like the many start-ups that are forced to fold due to lack of financing, you must be proactive about monitoring your finances and managing your cash flows from the get-go.
Remember to triple-check every company expense, and maintain a low overhead. This is not the time to make superfluous expenses like fancy offices, or fast cars – in fact, be careful not to invest in expensive office furniture or an unnecessarily large office space either. Nor should you be focused on fattening your expense account.
Once your business gets into a poor cash situation, it may already be too late to do something about it. You have to show your investors as well as the employees who have faith in you that you can manage your cash responsibly and pragmatically.
5. Don’t Take Forever to Launch
It all starts with an idea. You conceive an idea for a product or service to start out with. You believe that it is unique in a meaningful and beneficial way from the offerings of your competitors. The rest follows from this principle – you work on developing a prototype of the product or make arrangements for the service.
Up until now, you’ve been proactive, productive, and kept a steady pace. But now that it’s time to launch, you’re suddenly dawdling, perhaps even delaying the launch of your business itself.
Perhaps you feel as though your product or service is not ready; maybe you think it can be further improved or developed. You might be too afraid of the consumer response to take the leap.
Remember there will never be a perfect time to enter the market, so don’t be afraid to take the plunge.
Don’t delay getting your product or service out on the market, because early customer feedback is invaluable in helping to improve your product. In fact, according to co-founder of LinkedIn Reid Hoffman, “If you aren’t embarrassed by the first version of your product, you’ve launched too late.”