Every new year brings new business initiatives. I thought it would be good to ask 14 small business influencers for what they considered to be their single most important word of advice for anyone considering a new business launch in 2017.
Read what they have to say. You’ll see that a range of critical issues are covered along with some warnings that any entrepreneur would be wise to internalize.
Here’s a good suggestion: Boil each of these down to a short sentence or phrase, paste them onto a single page, print it out, grab a magnet, and stick it to the door of your refrigerator.
Evaluate the profitability of your niche.
In an ideal world, you could start a business and make money from whatever it is that you’re most passionate about. While it’s important to enjoy what you do, the reality is that some niches don’t provide enough demand to sustain a profitable business. If there are no competitors in your niche, it’s likely that there isn’t any money to be made. Do your due diligence before sinking time and money into any business.
Conserve your cash. When first starting your business there will be plenty of things (services, tools, and products) you’ll need to get it rolling. And you’ll have more cash flowing out than cash rolling in. Only spend money on those things that you need right now. Don’t invest in something you might need six months from now. It always takes longer to become profitable than you think it will so approach purchases for running your business using the “just in time” approach. Buy it when you need it and not before. Don’t let your optimism and enthusiasm for your new business get in the way of your success. Use your head, not your heart when spending your cash and you’ll have a lot better chance for success in the long run.
Make sure there is a market that would eagerly pay a profitable price for your product.
Test your product or service fearlessly.
Use the feedback you get to make something that customers love and will pay for.
The most important skill to master as a small business owner is what I call the “graceful swan dive face plant.” You will fail sometimes so get used to it and like a champion gymnast, stick that landing with your arms high above your head, brush yourself off, and move on.
When starting a business, small business owners MUST focus on cash flow, especially at the earliest stages. Quite often owners are developing business models and thinking a about PROFITABILITY. The importance of managing CASH FLOW is that it creates a daily mindset around managing the business’ daily inflows and outflows. Without this daily ritual, small business often run into liquidity crunches, which can cause business failure.
“Treat it as a business right from the start and don’t turn it into an expensive hobby. Especially if you’re in a creative business like me, it’s so easy to ignore the numbers and do it for the art’s sake. Don’t. Do your sums, and charge what you need to charge to make a living. Your time away from your family has to be compensated for – remember that.”
My biggest tip for business owners is to always be learning!
You don’t know it all, you’ll never know it all. Surround yourself with smart people and hold yourself accountable to attend seminars and events, hire a coach, read books and blogs and articles, attend webinars – do whatever you have to do to keep yourself learning. There is SOMEONE out there who has gone through it before and can help you out! Find them and get their help to save yourself a lot of money and headache.
Here are my top three pieces of advice for anyone starting a business:
- Be persistent. Ask for help, ask for meetings, ask for referrals…and return kindness with kindness.
- Think big picture. Develop a three-year vision, one year plan, quarterly goals, monthly tasks specific to your business development.
- Be generous. Grant yourself money to hire professionals to collaborate and assist where your skills are weaker. Be generous with your time and talents to mentor other young professionals and colleagues – it pays back tenfold.
Know your customer! Successful entrepreneurs learn everything they can about their real life customers; not just the demographics and customer profiles. Talk to as many prospects as possible to make sure you fully understand what motivates them and how they make decisions. That will guide you as you map at your course to success.
Marketing is not the same thing as selling. Marketing brings you prospects, but selling to them closes the deal. If you only invest in a marketing strategy and not a sales strategy, you are setting your business up for failure.
My single most important word of advice for a hopeful entrepreneur is commit to investing in success and money mindset training from the start. Success in business is 80 percent mindset; whereas tools and systems are 20 percent. Personal growth always precedes business growth.
Renee D. Ward
Be consistent, and hold yourself accountable! Intentional acts – effectively applied day after day, will define your personal brand and bring lasting business success. But, do not ever be afraid to let go of what is not working.
Having started a number of businesses now – some of which have flopped and some have taken off – the one bit of advice I always use is Only you have the belief, passion, and sense of what you want so you must… no you MUST… drive forward and push against every and all barriers you find. Only then can you succeed.