For first-time business owners, starting a business can be fun, exciting, yet downright scary. You may have a great idea. But well, the reality is that there is a huge divide that exists between a great idea and a successful business. Transforming your idea into a profitable business takes time, strategizing, and yes, lots of hard work.
Here are some important advice and tips for first-time business owners:
Your determination to succeed is critical.
Talent is essential, but determination is often the biggest predictor of long-term success. Starting a business is not easy, and you will encounter a lot of tough challenges. Plus, there are tasks that you don’t really like to do but needs to be done. Success in business depends on what your ambitions are, how badly you want it, and what you will do to get it. It is about your will to succeed, and the self-discipline you need to muster to do the things you have to do. It is your determination that will help you do what it takes to push your goals forward.
Not all opportunities are good.
Success in business is all about taking the right opportunity. However, not all opportunities are good. You don’t have to take on all of them at the same time. Otherwise, you will overwork and spread yourself too thin – and doing so can have disastrous results in your business. You may end up displeasing the customers because you did not have enough time to complete the project or the quality of your products suffered because you’re doing so many things at once.
Focus, focus, and focus. Don’t let the excitement of seeing so many opportunities cloud your judgment. Take on those that you think you can deliver well, while moving your business forward. If you wish to diversify, be sure to have a realistic plan of action that will allow you to determine the resources that need to be put into each one.
Learn how to make decisions quickly.
One of the most important – and riskiest – parts of being a business owner is the ability to make decisions. You need to be willing to commit to a decision and take action. Train yourself to be decisive, and be able to make decisions quickly. The longer it takes you to make a decision, the costlier it may be for your business. Successful entrepreneurs move — they gather the facts, analyze the situation, consider alternatives and decide on the best course of action in the shortest amount of time possible.
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If the initial decision is not giving the intended results, be prepared to modify the decision you first made. There is no looking back once a decision is made. After all, making a decision is better than taking no action at all.
It’s all about the right product.
Success in business starts with having the right product or service that people actually want. Your business must provide something of value to your target audience. Your target market must view what you offer as a solution to their problems that they need to have.
>> RELATED: What to Sell: How to Select the Right Product for Your Business
More than being enamored by your own products, you need to test it out to determine whether the assumptions you made about your customers are indeed true. This will help you determine if you are indeed focusing on the right problems, or whether the market is large enough to support your business. You need to know if the solution your product or service offers actually hit the right spot with the audiences, enabling it to gain significant traction.
Develop the ability to spot the first signs of failure.
There’s a mantra (and even a book) that says, “Fail fast.” For a small business with hardly any capital, this is not an option; as failure could mean all your money has been wiped out, including your house and everything you own. Silicon Valley folks and other rich entrepreneurs who say “fail fast” can afford it because they’ve already experienced spectacular successes (with fat bank accounts to boot).
Instead, what you need is the ability to spot the first signs of failure – and do immediate corrective steps. Test your products and test your assumptions. Be sure that you have clear measures of success so you know whether your assumptions are working or not. If your assumptions are wrong and things are not going out as well as you hoped for, evaluate what went wrong, learn your lessons and adjust as fast as you can. Take for example purchasing banner advertising. You need to have some ideas for a solid return on investment (ROI) to help you determine whether your ad buy is good or not.
Starting a business is hard work.
Anticipate that you will be working hard when you start a business. Working in a 9-to-5 job where you can stop thinking about work when you leave is a luxury you will not have when you are jump starting your business. Whether it is pushing code to complete your app, making sales calls, marketing the site in social media, or balancing the books, you need to be prepared for hard work. You will be the CEO, the janitor, the sales rep, the customer service representative all rolled into one.