Admit it. You have day-dreamed about starting your own business. But here’s the thing: Everyone’s got a business idea – whether it’s opening up a shopping mall or a shopping website that will blow customers’ minds away.
While these are great goals to have, here’s some harsh truth, the process of becoming a successful business owner isn’t a smooth one. It’s filled with bumps and unexpected diversion.
With this in mind, it’s a smart move to look at what successful entrepreneurs wish they’d thought of or knew before starting their businesses, what they realized too late, and which wrong moves they’d avoid now that they know better. We’ve put together some things that you should know before starting your own business.
The business is the top priority.
The biggest mistake you will ever make as a business owner is that you are focused on chasing your passion. In other words, you’re not just going to be making clothes, shoes, and hairs or designing websites 24/7. That is going to consume 15% of your time.
Instead, it would help if you were spending the bulk of your time developing business strategies (goals, vision), marketing, selling, interacting with customers, and doing administrative tasks like accounting, invoicing, and payroll. You are a business owner first and then a cloth designer, shoe cobbler, or web designer.
This is not what you signed up for right, but the sooner you realize this fact, the quicker you’ll be able to launch and maintain a successful business.
Provide a Need, Then Profit Will Follow.
There is always a need to make a profit in every business, but that is not your goal. Your focus should be on helping your customers solve a problem or make their lives better by producing a product. You could be an excellent cook or designer. Still, if you’re just preoccupied with making money (profit) and not building relationships or delivering the best service, it will not benefit your business in the long-run.
Once you realize that it’s not about you or how much money is going into your bank, you’ll start delivering a superior product or service, which will attract more customers. And, when you have more customers, the more income you’ll generate.
Cash flow management.
Could you make no mistake about it? The rate at which your business takes in money through sales and pays it out for things it needs to continue operating is the lifeblood of your business. When you don’t properly manage your finances, you spend more money coming into the business. How long can you expect to stay-in-business when you don’t have enough money to pay your necessary expenses?
The best way to manage your cash flow is by creating a budget and justifying every expense so that you know exactly where your business funds are going into.
It’s lonely Starting your own Business.
When working as a customer service officer in a bank or a restaurant manager, there is always a sense of community since you and your co-workers are all in it together. That’s not the case when you start your own business. It’s just you and you alone. Every decision and responsibility has to be taken by you alone. And that’s a heavy, lonesome burden to carry.
Having a business partner can lessen that burden and make the journey not so lonely, but if you’re not in that position, you should build a safety net. It could be your spouse, family, best friend, or other business owners who are going through the same experience as you. You’re going to need them for advice, emotional support, and the occasional venting session.
The activity doesn’t equal growth.
Do you consider growth to be all of the fancy features that you add to your product, the new office, or the addition of 20 new employees? Is it the glowing review you just received from your customers? All of that is great. But it doesn’t constitute growth. Growth means that you’re building a product and an increase in customer base. That’s it.
Marketing should be a priority.
One of the biggest reasons why small businesses fail is due to a lack of marketing. To grow and generate sales, you need to succeed. You must be showing off your products and services to potential customers daily. Develop your marketing strategy before you launch your business so that you’re able to sell to new customers from day one of your operations. Waiting six months before coming up with a marketing strategy just won’t cut it — you’ll be missing out on thousands of potential customers.
For small businesses, marketing doesn’t have to be a challenge. There are lots of ways that you can promote your business to new people. With digital marketing techniques such as social media, Getting started as soon as you can, is key to success. You can also consider outsourcing your marketing to a specialist, but the more you are involved in your own marketing, the cheaper it’ll be.
It would help if you had staff you can trust
If you’re starting an online business, website designing, etc., you’ll likely start as a one-person business. But for businesses with a physical office or store/mall, finding staff that you can trust and depend on is essential. Even if you plan on spending all of your time at your office, the reality is that you’ll need some time to relax and unwind.
You may therefore need to hire staff as soon as your business commences operation. It might be tempting to hire a friend or family member to reduce costs. Still, there are lots of reasons why you should not, including the fact that you will be unable to bargain with that friend professionally. Emotions will be involved in every decision. They might not be the most qualified candidate. Hiring somebody that you don’t already know is the most sensible idea.
Engage with your audience.
Most customers don’t want to do business with a faceless or nameless organization. They want to know that there’s an actual person on the other end, someone who will respond to their inquiries and compliant. Interacting with your customer is one of the most important tasks that business owners must work on, online, or offline. Respond personally to comments/inquiries left on forums, blog posts, social media channels, review sites, and emails. Introduce your business to potential customers when waiting for a flight or bus.
This gives you insights on what you’re customers are looking for, what you need to improve upon, and builds trust between you and your customers.
Don’t forget to have fun.
When you have fun/leisure, it keeps you sane and helps you refocus. Only then can you come up with new ideas to solve problems. Simply put, don’t work yourself to death. It’s not good for the health of either you or your business.
Following the advice listed above doesn’t mean that you’re not going to make a mistake when you start your business. Every business owner encounters their own specific set of problems. However, by not repeating some of the same mistakes that I’ve made in the past, you’re increasing your chances of survival.