Here’s a little secret when it comes to starting a business: starting a business hurts, and not in a good way. Great business ideas are nagging pains that will keep you up at night. The pain only begins to lessen when the idea comes to light. But the obsession, sweat and tears don’t stop there. During that painful startup process here are some things entrepreneurs should know to make their transition into entrepreneurship easier:
“Good artists borrow ideas, great artists steal them.”
Hear me out when I say this, but no great idea is ever really that original. Twitter is a form of “micro-blogging,” something users were doing on Facebook for years before Twitter existed. And before that people were putting captions on to photos that could have been considered tweets. Quora is a new form of forums. Pepsi is a new Coke. Wendy’s is a new McDonald’s. iPods are the new mp3 players. Get the point? It’s okay if your idea, service or product isn’t all that innovative. Your approach is what matters.
“Keep it simple.”
Many young entrepreneurs have 10 good ideas. Instead of 10 good ideas, focus on 1 great idea. Don’t be like Jack Kerouac and jump from one shooting star to the next until you fall.
“Location. Location. Location.”
Location is not only important for real estate. If you want your business to be seen then make it be located in an area that is relevant to your customer base. If you are an outdoors company, is there really any reason why you should be located in Texas? If you want to go up against the big hitters in your industry don’t be based out of some small town.
“Numbers are more important than words”
If you’re about to spend weeks on writing a business plan, don’t. Your business plan should be a spreadsheet rather than a word document. Figuring out metrics are way more important than writing down how you’ll use social media. All that stuff will change over time. For now focus on the numbers.
“Do it right the first time”
Don’t cut corners. For example, don’t hire an inexperienced graphic designer because they are cheaper. When they come up with a crap graphic design and you have to re-do the whole thing you’ll wind up paying double. Not to mention the time you’ve wasted.
“Sales are Secondary”
Sales do not equal cash flow. When you have a limited amount of capital, cash flow is what you need to survive.
“Find workers who can not only read the book but can write it, too.”
Hire people who won’t just do work but instead will add value to your company. Able bodies won’t cut it in those very vital first years.
“Your most unhappy customers are your greatest source of learning.”
You can learn a lot more from people’s complaints rather than people’s praises. Because you are a start-up many friends, family members and associates might not be capable of giving you the cold hard truth. Your customers will.
“Life Plan before Business Plan”
Manage your personal finances and your business finances separately. Make sure you consolidate your personal department before moving forward with your grand idea or else you’ll never get ahead and get the loans you need to make your company successful. Your business is a way to make your life better but your life is not a way to make your business better.
“Showing up fashionably late is fine, but existing doesn’t work the same.”
Lastly have a serious exit strategy to make your company transferable, sellable or self-sustaining. Know when to hold them and know when to fold them.
Money doesn’t make you happy in life, but for some reason everyone wants to learn this the hard way. Doing something you lose sleep over might cause you temporary pain but once you get the ball rolling you’ll live a much happier and more successful life.
Teresa Dahl is an established freelance writer in many areas. Included in her experience is writing for Consolidated Credit – a leading credit counseling agency located in Fort Lauderdale, Florida.