Being an entrepreneur takes a special mix of persistence, patience, and passion. It’s certainly not for the faint of heart and if you think you’re ready to make the leap, you better be in it for the long haul. In good times and bad, you’ll have to be resilient in your efforts, keeping a level head and continuously pushing forward.
In the end, there’s no better reward than seeing your creation come to life— there’s a real magic in turning your ideas into reality through sheer force of will. However, entrepreneurship for beginners can often be painstaking, and sometimes, even downright scary. To help make the process of going at it alone more exciting than daunting, we’ve compiled a list of key principles and/or philosophies that can guide you.
Leverage your passion.
Starting your own business is inherently risky. It’s going to require a lot of time and effort and you’ll likely be confronted with tough decisions on a near-daily basis. It’s the motivation that serves as the fuel that keeps your entrepreneurial fire going, and nothing will motivate you more than something you truly care about.
There’s no shortage of inspiration out there for potential startup ideas, so don’t just jump at anything that happens to catch your eye. Reflect on your passions, map out a long-term vision, and pick a venture that will keep you feeling excited to jump out of bed every morning so you don’t get burnt out while burning that midnight oil!
Take your time.
You know that saying, “This is a marathon, not a sprint?” Keep that in mind when starting your own company. It’s likely that you won’t get everything right the first time, and you may have to pivot, and then you might have to pivot again. Recognizing when you need to change directions is part of the journey. How many times do you think Twitter pivoted after starting as a podcasting app? And look at Nintendo; they used to sell vacuum cleaners.
Though iterations are inevitable, it’s still important to have a plan. It will give you something to reference, serving as a reminder of next steps that help you keep an overall focus.
- Do your research. Even if you think you’re an expert in a particular field, it’s important to gather some intel about industry trends and statistics to help support your thesis, especially if you’ll be seeking out investors or business partners. How big is the market? How many competitors are out there and how can you do things a little differently? Are there relatively easy ways to reach your target customer?
- Create a business plan. There’s an overwhelming number of elements that go into creating a successful business, from finances and team decisions to marketing and sales. Drafting up a business plan will give you a clear overview of everything you need and will help for recruiting other founders or investors if needed.
- Have measurable goals. Create specific, measurable and executable benchmarks for your business for years 1, 2 and 3. Then, take a look 5-7 years down the line. What is your vision for the longer-term? This is a hard question to answer because with any new business being built from scratch, it is almost a 100% certainty that your plans will change more readily than you could ever plan for. But having an initial vision is a great way to help you make progress toward where you want the company to go and assess if you’re on the right track. Year after year you should be reflecting on the one before and determining if you’re still on pace for the years to come. Continue to iterate on your yearly planning.
- Know your taxes. As a business owner, taxation laws can be both a blessing and a curse. With the right knowledge, you may be able to unlock all kinds of benefits and write-offs, like trips you are planning on taking, the meals you eat, your cell phone bill, portions of your mortgage, and more! But you’ll also have to be careful to not incur penalties or fines. Word of advice, get an accountant. And get a good one! Don’t do your taxes yourself or rely on TurboTax. A good accountant will save you thousands (you’ll thank us later!).
Being an entrepreneur exists at a unique intersection of short-term and long-term time horizons. While it’s important to have a vision for your company’s trajectory years into the future, it’s also essential to build daily systems and routines that will help you keep up momentum every step of the way. By maintaining a balance between these two perspectives, entrepreneurs can consistently show up and execute, sustaining the growth of their ventures for years to come.
“Do not try to do everything. Do one thing well.”- Steve Jobs
In other words, start with what you know, and scale up later. Some first-time founders will instinctively object to this philosophy. And it’s an easy argument, in a world dominated by platforms and polymaths. You may feel as if your business will fail to stand out if you don’t offer a fully-featured product or service, complete with every bell and whistle. This is the number one mistake of new entrepreneurs. Start with one or two features or service lines or products that are your best ones. Once it’s selling like hotcakes and you have the systems in place to do so, it’s time to expand!
So let it be known, it’s important to keep in mind that going over the top with creating or investing in your product or service before you know how the market will react or know how much you can handle is a recipe for disaster– so, start small. Build your business slowly, establishing a positive reputation in doing what you do best. Your audience will scale with you, helping to guide you towards the necessary next steps.
Determine your risk-reward spectrum.
Many treat the term “risk” like it’s a dirty word, but without it, there are also few rewards. Simply, it’s a balancing act, and it’s advisable to decide where you’re most comfortable on the risk-reward spectrum. By incorporating your own risk evaluation framework into every decision, entrepreneurs can be sure they’re not letting their emotions get ahead of them.
This framework, which can be as simple as a checklist of criteria on your phone, or matrix scoring in a spreadsheet, can be applied to almost every decision you make— for example, determining whether your business is better suited to borrowing from a bank, seeking out investors, or even just bootstrapping with your own savings. It all depends on your own personal risk profile (as well as the nature of your business). No matter where you fall on the risk-taking spectrum, it’s crucial to have a clear-cut, repeatable process for striking the right balance every time.
Focus on your employees.
As your business grows, you’ll quickly realize that it’s simply impossible to do everything yourself, and over time you’ll need to delegate more and more responsibilities. With each new hire, you’re setting the stage for a broader company culture, building a team of contributors and representatives who will eventually help you manage almost every aspect of operations.
With that said, there are a few best practices to keep in mind when building your team:
- Hire the right people. As a founder, it’s not always easy to give up control and responsibility over your business, even when you know it’s absolutely necessary. It’s worth taking the time to vet and evaluate every new hire, giving you the confidence each individual is more than capable of stepping into your shoes.
- Invest in morale. A startup atmosphere requires a lot from employees, from pivoting goals to wearing multiple hats. You need them to fully buy-in to your vision and support it. So, show your love and appreciation consistently. Reward them, praise them, empathize with them. It’s a team effort so make sure they know that.
- Listen to feedback. As an entrepreneur, it’s natural to feel opinionated and sometimes downright defensive about the direction of your company. Still, your employees are your boots on the ground. Hear their advice and trust their input.
Watch your competition.
It’s certainly necessary to have confidence in your business’s ability to provide a first-rate product or service, but don’t turn a blind eye to the competition. Maybe they know something you don’t. Maybe you can learn from their mistakes. Perhaps they even have a few good ideas.
It’s never a bad idea to watch for shifts in your competition, both at an individual and broader market level. Whether you’re checking in on their customer feedback on social media, or monitoring the focus of their marketing campaigns with tools like Google Alerts, SpyFu and Ahrefs, keeping an eye on competing offerings and narratives can give you a much better sense of where you can improve your own business.
- What are their biggest strengths?
- What new products are they offering?
- Where are they losing the most customers?
- Can you leverage those losses, and capture more of their market share?
- What type of content are they creating? What are they not creating? Fill the gap and take over some market share with SEO-enabled content.
Make a habit of observing changing market conditions around you. You never know what you might discover.
Network, network, network.
The business world is full of myths and misconceptions, but few are more pervasive than the notion of the “solo founder.” While mainstream audiences tend to romanticize the idea of an independent entrepreneur, the reality is that no founder can truly succeed without a network of peers and partners. Because entrepreneurship can feel really lonely at times, you shouldn’t go it alone if you don’t have to.
Even as you’re navigating entrepreneurship for beginners, you should be leveraging relationships with other people in the industry so that you’ll have a gold mine of quality advice and sound strategies to tap into.
Still, it’s not always easy to bootstrap a business network from the beginning. This is why so many founders choose to join growth10. As a platform for building relationships with experienced advisors and entrepreneurs who are in the same boat as you, growth10 helps founders find their footing, supercharging their business with crowdsourced feedback and insights.
In addition to providing access to a diverse library of educational content, growth10 hosts a wide spectrum of virtual community meetups (think monthly meetings, Facebook live sessions, and one-on-one sessions with your tribe leader) plugging you into a powerful network of business leaders across the country who can help you solve the exact entrepreneurial problems that you are facing. With growth10, you’ll unlock the ability to grow faster and make better decisions.