Ready to start your own business? Great! We’ve helped countless people launch new brands and business ideas, and we’ve learned a lot along the way. Before you roll out the red carpet to your new venture, here are our top ten tips to keep in mind.
#1: Don’t start a business to work less.
Starting a business is not easy, and it requires some major time investments, especially in the early days as you build systems and work through bumps in the road. It’s appealing to leave the 9-5 behind and make your own schedule – and we agree! – but most entrepreneurs worked much more than 40 hours per week as they began their new business. Unless you have the resources to bring on a team to help from the outset, be aware that it will take up lots of your time in the beginning. Push through those long days, and you can eventually find yourself on some fancy vacations or clocking your four-hour work weeks.
#2: Your employees are not your support system.
It’s great to have a team. They can help you tremendously when it comes to the day-to-day operations of your business. However, we do not advise leaning on your employees when it comes to big-picture entrepreneurial problems. You must find a community of entrepreneurs who get it — people who understand what it takes and have the same passion you do to see a business grow and succeed. Join a mastermind, or create your own, with likeminded go-getters. Don’t know any other entrepreneurs? Join a group, like SOWBO (Society of Women Business Owners) or create your own local meetup. Their support and wisdom will be invaluable to you.
#3: Talk to your partner before you proceed.
Of course, your significant other is likely aware of your business dreams, but it’s important to sit down and have a conversation about the details. Let them read this article, and discuss together the time, money, and commitment it will take to get your business off the ground. Discuss what you’ll need from them, how this will change your family dynamics (especially if you have kids), and make sure you’re on the same page. Having your partner on your team makes all the difference.
#4: Friends shouldn’t be employees.
This is a tough one, we know, but as a general rule, bringing your friends or family onto your payroll is a bad idea. When business and personal lines get blurred, the ensuing conflict can often result in broken relationships. Those closest to you can support you in other ways, of course! But it’s best to hire employees you can remain professional with, as well as outsourcing things like financial records to a licensed bookkeeper or accountant. It will free you up to simply enjoy your family and friends without bringing the messy parts of business into those relationships.
#5: Wealth cannot be your “why.”
Before you start your own business, search your inner thoughts and verify that you want to start this business because you’re passionate about it and you believe it can help others, not because you’d like to make more money. It’s good to make money, and we’re big fans of successful business! But if wealth is your sole reason for working, you’ll struggle to push through the inevitable tough seasons. When you show up doing something you love – money follows.
#6: Learn about legality.
Unfortunately, most great ideas come with a lot of red tape. Do thorough research into your field’s legal requirements and assess your risk level. Your secretary of state’s website is a great place to start looking for the proper business registrations, licenses, and tax requirements, and getting acquainted with your local business licensing office, a CPA, and a business attorney are musts in our book.
We mapped out all the steps of starting a new business with THIS START-UP GUIDE. We also recommend browsing the resource center and tools section for affordable insurance options. For most dreamers and entrepreneurs, this is not the fun part of starting a business, but trust us, you’ll be glad you set yourself up for success when tax season arrives or the government follows up on something.
#7: Conduct a SWOT analysis.
Start your own business with a SWOT analysis. Discovering your strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats is an essential exercise for a smooth start in your new business. For more info about SWOT analysis, read our recent article here.
#8: Know your customer.
Put simply: there’s no point in opening a business if you’re not sure who you’re opening it for. Research your potential client thoroughly. Get to know them, inside and out. What do they like? What do they need? Where do they shop? How can you market to them most effectively?
#9: Know your numbers.
Before you start your own business, you should do a deep dive into the data. Learn about the true cost of your business. This includes the true cost of product or service, as well as your overhead costs, minimums on product orders, software management expenses, inventory and distribution costs, payroll for your staff, and outside expenses (like your CPA and your licensing fees). Calculating all of those numbers will give you a better feel for your profit margin and expected revenue. It’s also a good idea to consider how and how much your business is scalable. This is a lot of work, but it’s absolutely vital to the health of your new business.
#10: Keep it simple.
Most entrepreneurs are also big dreamers – a great quality, but one which can get you ahead of yourself quickly if you aren’t careful. We believe you should not start your own business with more than three products. Simplicity will help you lay a solid foundation and get clarity on your customer base. Of course, you’ll most likely scale your business to include many more products and services in the future. Businesses often fail due to growing too much too quickly. Start simple. It might feel like starting small, but it’s actually starting smart.