It’s exciting and a little frightening to strike out on your own. But the entrepreneurial world is ripe with opportunity if you have a clear vision and the enthusiasm and knowledge to bring a new business into being. Fortunately, you can benefit from the insights of others who have traveled down the entrepreneurial path and found success of their own. Here are five tips that can help first-time entrepreneurs navigate through the entrepreneurial waters.
Have Passion for Your Venture
If you’re not doing something you’re passionate about, you’ll be less likely to stick with the long hours, late nights and weekends that most entrepreneurs devote to their growing business. An entrepreneurial venture is like childbirth – you’re giving birth to a new entity, and it has to be a labor of love. Don’t jump on board the next hot trend, and try to turn it into a business unless you love it enough to devote all of your waking hours to it.
Chart Your Course
Starting a new business without a business plan is like trying to navigate through a new city without a map. You have to know the direction you’re going and how you’re going to get there. Regardless of whether you’re getting outside funding or using your own money to fund your business, you need a well-written business plan to chart your course. A business plan is also important should you ever need business loans or want to take on additional investors. A business plan gives your growing business legitimacy and direction.
Don’t Try to Be Everything to Everybody
If you own a restaurant and are looking for an accountant, would you rather use the services of a general accounting firm or an accounting practice that specializes in the tax needs of restaurants? People prefer specialists to generalists, which is why your business needs a niche. Don’t try to be everything to everybody. Narrow your niche down and then niche it down some more. You give more value to your customer when you focus on one specific area, and they’ll perceive you to be the expert in what you do. It’s also easier to reach a narrow audience than it is to market to the masses. Know your niche, who your customers are and how to reach them.
Don’t Be Overly Optimistic
New entrepreneurs are an optimistic lot. They approach the marketplace with stars in their eyes and high expectations. Unfortunately, things usually take longer and cost more than planned, and lack of capital and cash flow is what brings most businesses down. When you estimate how much cash you need, multiply your projections by two, and when you project revenues during your first few years, cut those estimates by half. This will help you avoid a cash crunch that can destroy your business.
Be Hands On
Some entrepreneurs dream of giving birth to a business and then sitting back and enjoying the profits. Even if you have the resources to hire employees to run your business, it’s important to stay involved in all aspects of your growing business. No one has the enthusiasm and commitment to your business that you do, and you need to understand every aspect of it. There may be times you need to step in to keep your business operating. Make sure you’re able to do that.
The Bottom Line?
Entrepreneurship is an incredible journey but one with lots of twists and turns. Keep these first time entrepreneur tips in mind to help you stay on course and turn your business into the success you always dreamed it would be.