Starting a business is hard work – never think otherwise. There are many factors that need to be considered, from logistical to legal, statistical to sales. If you’re a fast learner, great, you might be able to get away with learning as you go. For the rest of us, it is much better to plan ahead. So if we are looking to start a business as an entrepreneur, these are the 12 lessons that you’ll need to learn hard and fast.
Let’s start at the beginning.
Names can literally mean the difference between success and failure, they are that important! Pick one that doesn’t confuse, but perhaps intrigues. It’ll have to be memorable, and the spelling needs to be spot on too. Some names may fit at the start, but you could outgrow them. Most importantly of all, do people like it, will they remember it, and has somebody already trademarked it?
It doesn’t grow on trees, and if it did we’d all be foresters. You’ll need finance and the options vary immensely, from start-up loans to crowdfunding, banks, to venture capitalists. You may need to factor in the growth of the business and the drain that this will put on available resources. The last thing that you need is to not be able to sustain your growth because of poor financial planning.
3. What Do You Do?
Are you a service provider, a facilitator, a producer or a re-seller? In other words, what is your product? Is anybody already in the market, and if so, how are you different or better? If nobody else is in the market, ask yourself is there a market at all?!
In this digital age, you need a presence online. You may even forgo a physical presence to concentrate solely online services and offerings – but who are your customers? Having a great website is one thing, but how many other great websites are there and why would people end up on yours? You’ll need the best SEO company services to get your keywords on the first page of results. Would you undertake SEO in-house, or use a third-party SEO services provider? What about cost, not just in terms of money, but time? Online referrals are the new “passing trade”, if you are hidden away in a place nobody knows about, there’ll be no passing trade. Online, has a lot of places to become hidden…
Gaining interest from SEO services is great, but interest does not equate to sales. You need to convert interest into custom, internet tourism into trade. Will your site sell for you, is it good enough to do so, or will it simply gather data to be followed up on? Also, what about physical sales, or cross-selling with complimentary product providers? You need opportunity; the more chances you get, the more you’ll convert. Once you have the opportunity, you can concentrate on conversion rates.
You’ll need an elevator pitch and a full sales presentation to present to corporate clients. One conveys the message concisely yet clearly, the other is more comprehensive and substantial. Practice both, as you may need to present either at short notice.
7. Facts & Figures
It’s your business, so you need to understand the books. Whilst you may feel there’s a person for that role, it’s your business and nobody will ever care for it as much as you. So learn to read charts, projections and accounts, and question figures yourself.
A great product sells better to great people. Be diligent in your hiring and invest in good working practices to ensure you keep the good – and quickly lose the bad – apples.
9. The Market
We’ve already considered SEO marketing and cross-product referrals. You represent your business at all times, so present it well through yourself. Be positive, look for all opportunities to introduce it to others, without sounding like a salesman. Take pride in your business, it’s a part of you.
10. Client Care
Treat every client as if they were your only client. Offer a service that gives a bespoke feeling. Whilst not every happy client shares their good experiences, bad news and reviews spread like wildfire. By keeping this consistency of approach and high standards of client care, you’ll limit the fallout of any bad experiences. Share the good reviews on your site, and promote them to all who visit it.
11. Pay Your Bills and Have Yours Paid
Don’t become known for bad practices, and always look after the cash flow of your business; it’s critical, as many have learned the hard way.
12. Work Hard & Smart
Working hard is a given if you’re starting a business, but never have any wasted energies. Ensure your actions are always for positive reasons, well thought out and consistently executed. Delegate where necessary, but retain an overall responsibility for your venture.
Hindsight is a wonderful thing, but it only ever comes after the fact! So look for as many early advantages as you can. You exist in a competitive market, and to thrive you’ll need positive energy, intelligence, foresight and even a little luck. By absorbing all the lessons that are out there and available to you, you’ll be giving yourself the best chance of success.