So you’ve done your homework, crafted your business plan, and gotten everything lined up to launch your business. That’s wonderful! But before you get too excited, it never hurts to make sure that your feet are planted on solid ground.
If you’re not 100% sure, I’d urge you to consider a few of the lessons that I’ve picked up along the way to building several successful companies.
Five Do’s of Starting a New Business
1 – Live Within Your Means. In any business venture, it is important to go in with a level head and know the limits of your personal finances. Spending more than your budget allows can result in despair, anxiety, and desperation. None of which is good for anyone planning to start a business.
Given the impact that finances can have on your company’s success, one of the best things you can do is to set a realistic budget before starting your business. Namely, spending plans are good because there is nothing so limiting as putting your business in debt before you even start. So remember to exercise discipline as it relates to spending and general money management.
2 – Prepare Yourself Fully Before You Start. Starting a business can be exciting. The fulfillment of your entrepreneurial dreams could be something you’ve planned your whole life. However, the difference between being an inspirational success and a catastrophic failure lies in your overall level of preparation to start a business.
As an entrepreneur, it’s wonderful to have passion, but without regular follow through and preparation, your drive can only get you so far.
Preparing yourself to start a business is no walk in the park. It requires foresight, determination, and proper planning, along with proficiency in research, promotions, financial management, etc. And of course, the best time to get yourself up to speed on these items is before launching your business.
3 – Get Everything in Writing. As a business person, you must learn to plan for the worse but hope for the best. Part of doing so entails insisting that all agreements be made in writing.
While it is good to give potential clients or vendors the benefit of the doubt, you never know when someone may decide that it’s easier to forget the terms of a verbal agreement than to follow through with them. Hence, always get everything in writing.
4 – Have a Unique Selling Point (USP). A unique selling proposition is what sets your brand apart from your competition. You could say it’s what you offer your customers that your competition can’t or won’t provide. Find a unique angle to help your company stand out from the crowd. Doing so can aid you greatly in your marketing efforts and make it easier to attract and retain customers.
5 – Be Good at What You Do. When starting a business, it is not enough that you merely prepare yourself, live within your means, get everything in writing, or develop a USP. You must also be the best that you can be within your field. Doing so will allow you to surpass your customers’ expectations. It will also further separate you from your competitors and help you leverage word of mouth marketing.
Five Don’ts of Starting a New Business
6 – Don’t Spread Yourself Too Thin. Focus on doing one thing at a time. Juggling between too many different tasks at any given time is the surest way to failure (and poor health). Furthermore, given that starting a business requires your undivided attention, you must be careful not to become distracted.
Take your time to grow your business and achieve your goals before you begin branching out into other ventures. Likewise, be careful not to over commit yourself to too many favors, chores, and errands.
7 – Don’t Take Things to Heart. You might have heard before that thick skin is a good trait for an entrepreneur to possess. Failure and disappointments are an integral part of business. Your company is not perfect, and this is particularly the case when you are just starting out.
Otherwise, if you continue to internalize and lament over your mishaps, you run the risk of burning yourself out. The best way to protect your emotions from major setbacks is to get into the habit of objectively assessing situations that pertain to your business.
Also, remember that as an entrepreneur, you have the ability to bounce back from failures, analyze them, learn from any mistakes, and regroup for the next opportunity.
8 – Don’t Ignore the Fine Print. As a business person, you should always do your due diligence; this means thoroughly reading anything that you’re asked to sign. If the document is highly technical or uses a good amount of legal jargon, then have your attorney look it over for you. But whatever you do, don’t get into the habit of endorsing paperwork that doesn’t make sense to you.
As much as we might not want to admit it, not everyone has your best interests at heart. The sooner you come to accept this unfortunate fact of life, the sooner you’ll be able to protect yourself from those who intend to benefit from your misfortune.
9 – Don’t Sign Personal Guarantees. When financing your business using a loan, it is important to keep the line between your business resources and personal assets separate from one another. If your business is still in the infant stages, do not make the mistake of acting as the personal cosigner or guarantor for your business transactions.
Doing so places all of your personal assets at risk and if your business ever goes under, you could be forced to foot the bill for your company’s debts.
10 – Don’t Hire Friends or Family. No matter how shrewd you are as a business person at the end of the day, there are some emotions that you can’t overcome. Family attachments would certainly fall into this category. Throughout history, many businesses have collapsed under the weight of poor hiring decisions — chief among them is hiring friends and family.
As this article has hinted earlier, business requires some level of detachment, especially when it comes to making personnel decisions. Letting emotional ties get in the way of tough choices can be the downfall of any business.
Although there are many ways to start a business, keeping your wits about you and adhering to sound business practices can go a long way towards cementing your company’s success. So too can learning from the mistakes of others.