You’ve set out to build the business of your dreams, congratulations!
So, now that you’ve committed to building your dream ( fill-in-the-blank-here), where to begin? Here’s my list of 9 quick business tips for startups.
1. Know What You’re Getting Yourself Into
In my earlier days, I’d sit at my desk, knowing what I had to do, but wondering how to do it.
Before you roll up your sleeves and get down and dirty–first, do your homework. Here’s three of the most important things you should be researching early on:
Operating Needs: What are the basic things you need to make your business run smoothly? This sounds like a no brainer tip–but trust me, living in the San Francisco Bay Area, I have seen many startups and entrepreneurs fail because they failed to fully access all their business needs early on.
Your Market: Identify your competitors in the field, and what you can do to make yourself stand out from the rest. Competition in the market place will always exist, but I truly believe this, no one can do the business that you conceptualize, because it is from you, your soul, your heart and your brain, so CTFD and look at your competition not as the enemy, but as other people who have similar businesses, hating on local/similar businesses that share your vision, will hurt your consciousness not theirs. Trust me on that – I learnt this the hard way.
Your Customers: Your clients existed before you even conceptualized your idea. If you are looking to attract them to your business, you need to fully understand who they are. Find them, research them, discover their wants and needs & look to fulfill them.
2. You Will Wear Many Hats
For any new business owner, especially if you don’t have a large team (or any at all), you will quickly learn that there can never be enough hours in the day. When I first founded Wear Your Voice Magazine, I spent the first year doing everything from general management, editing articles, public outreach, marketing, social media…and the list goes on. While juggling multiple tasks as your company grows will never end, the struggle is especially real when you’re rocking it solo.
If you’re an entrepreneur and a mum, acing everything will be a thing of the past, finding the time to juggle every little thing created a lot of stress, once I accepted that there were certain things that just weren’t in my capacity-no matter how hard I tried, I got some downtime. Just do your best, it will possibly never be good enough, but it will be enough.
This will be possibly one of the hardest skills you learn as an entrepreneur, OUTSOURCE. Yes, I said that word. This means find someone who can do the task better than you! (Remember A people employ A+ people) Letting go and handing over responsibility to your contractor/employee will feel like empty nest syndrome, you will suddenly worry about the health of your business (like it were your grown up baby). you will have to trust that they are actually doing what you asked them to do. You will want to step in and take over, you will spy on them, you will find holes in their work, you will get frustrated and you will get ever so slightly OCD, but YOU CANNOT DO IT ALL! It is time to outsource part of your business to someone else who can do it better, this will leave room for you to grow your business further. I assure you, a few weeks in and you will move from worry and concern to ”what ever did I do without them?”
FACT: we cannot do it all. Avoid torturing your brain about all the things you cannot do and focus on what you can do, and do it!
4. Create A Master Plan, But Leave Room For Flexibility
Create a master plan for your business intentions. Think of this as the blueprint to your financial success. Avoid goal making, un-met goals will leave you feeling dissatisfied, intentions on the other hand will leave room for movement and real life curve balls (which will come!). Remember, you may not achieve exactly what you want from month to month, but keep your vision at the forefront of your brain and it will evolve. Make sure though, that the passion for starting your business matches your intentions.
Don’t be rigid-nothing is set in stone, and neither should your business plan. Always leave room for flexibility.
5. Team: Your Team Is Everything.
When/if you do have a team, you will realized there will be great team players and some that basically are not. It will be very obvious to you, look for the signs and swiftly get bad players out.
FACT: I would not have a thriving business without my team who are in it to win it with me. Therefore, it is also your job to keep your team motivated and happy, yes we cannot *make* people happy, but we can certainly take care of their needs, make sure they are heard and listen to them-effective communication and ability to listen will be two of the most important tools you’ll need to have for your business to run smoothly!
Listen to every piece of advice you get. There will be so much that comes your way, those that will love your vision or fight with it, but advice will come your way whether you ask for it or not. Do not look for validation.
Listen, absorb, then take a step back to assess, and do what you will. It is your business after all, the last thing you want is to blindly follow someone’s advice that may jeopardize your business and be down on yourself for ignoring that gut feeling. You will always be the best judge of what is right for your own business, you too may get it wrong many, many times, but it won’t hurt as much when you know you are 100% accountable for the outcome and only you need to take responsibility for it.
7. You will Have Bumps Along The Way
Don’t give yourself a hard time: you will mess up, and obsessing over it will hurt you. Know when it is time to give up on an idea that you’re attached to, but for some reason or another, can’t get it to go. Know this, you are doing enough….Learn your lessons from failed ideas, and move the fuck on!
8. Keep Your Eye On The Prize, Not The Dollars
If your intention is to make money and you spend your waking and sleeping hours only consumed by counting dollar signs, you will not see the success you want the way you want it. By all means, create abundance around your venture, have a visual in your minds eye, but making dollars the main focus of your business, will not serve you well, it will skew your vision and it will hurt your business, passion and future.
9. Burn out is real
This is one of the best pieces of advice I ever got, right before I possibly hit rock bottom. I shall never ever forget this. Ever. This is also self explanatory so I won’t harp on about this, if you are even reading this post, you are possibly already feeling it. I know it feels like there is no time for you, there are no extra dollars for you to get the break you need, I ask you to figure it out, there will always be opportunity, look for it.
Ravneet Vohra is the Founder and Editor-In-Chief of Wear Your Voice Magazine, an Oakland based publication redefining the way women are represented in the media. She’s a mum, motivational speaker and writer based out of Oakland, CA. Her favorite food is her mum’s homecooked curry, and if you were wondering, Ravneet is team Chelsea FC. Follow her on Twitter and Facebook.