Becoming a successful entrepreneur can be a long, difficult, yet fulfilling journey where you begin with a small idea and build it from scratch. Seeing your business grow and bloom is like a dream come true. All this might seem exciting and profitable when you first dream about your business, but at times the start-up process can be intimidating and leave you feeling frustrated. Starting an enterprise requires hard work, putting your personal life and finances at risk, but if done sensibly and carefully it can be a very rewarding and enjoyable experience for yourself and others.
Below we have listed 51 tips to help you kick off your business, and make it profitable.
Starting a business is not everyone’s cup of tea. This certainly does not mean that your idea is bad, but you should be ready for all the hard work involved, like calling for customers and invoicing once the customers start coming in.
A little introspection is necessary. Do you have the aptitude or traits to launch your company alone? Do you possess the confidence and motivation required to start your business? Can you be strong and flexible at the same time?
2. Think of an idea
Don’t just think of a concept for commercial reasons. Try to develop a plan you are interested or experienced in. Keep this in mind, and think of a product or service there is a demand for in the market.
3. Test the acceptability of the project
Once you have a definite idea in mind, start working on it. Will the product or service allow you to make a profit? Is there a demand for it?
4. Draft a business plan
Making a business plan is a must before you start a business. It should include a mission statement, a summary of the company, the product or service you are offering, your target market, cost of operations and how will it be financed. A business plan is absolutely necessary for when you present your idea to prospective investors.
5. Get your business name registered
Check the name you have chosen for your business is available before you establish any branding. The next step is to register the name, have it trademarked and get a relevant domain name. This is done both at the state and federal levels.
6. Study the market
You must do your homework even if you feel that you know your business well. Firstly, you should assess the market situation, targeting customers who you feel will buy your products. A competitive assessment is a must.
7. Determine costs
You need to do your research thoroughly to determine your business overheads before you start. Investors will want to know this before they invest in your business. It will also help you to manage your business efficiently.
When you have determined the amount of money you have, you need to figure out the budget required to go ahead and develop your products or services.
9. Finding investors
A lot of money is required to start a business. Whether the funding comes from your savings, loans, credit cards or grants, you will still need to find the right investors who you think are reliable enough to work with.
10. Take the advice of investors
Investors have a say in your company and the best option is to listen to them, whether you like it or not. You don’t always have to do as they say, but it’s important you keep your investors on side.
11. Have a strong support system
Since you are investing a lot of money and time in your new enterprise, make sure your family and friends are there to support you emotionally.
12. Legal formalities
You should decide whether your business is a partnership, sole proprietorship, limited company, a non-profit corporation or a corporation.
13. Choose a suitable business name
You have to select the right name for your business, and then check whether it’s available for use in your state and country.
14. Free resources
There are many free resources that offer assistance in the form of advice and training. Make full use of them.
15. Tax obligations
You must determine all tax obligations; for instance, in the United States, the four types of business taxes are income, excise, self-employment and taxes for employees.
16. Get the necessary permits and licenses
You need to get a federal employment identification number if the company is not a sole proprietorship or a limited company. Get local permits and tax registration services. Apply for state licenses.
17. Get insurance
Buy proper insurance for your company, as it varies from business to business. Make sure the insurance covers theft or damage of business assets, or liability due to business-related injuries.
18. Setting up accounts
Set up a proper record-keeping system for the fiscal year, depending on whether you are using cash or an accrual system.
19. Select a business location
A business location should be chosen according to the requirements of the business, offering opportunities for future growth. It should be accessible to customers and in close proximity to your suppliers.
20. Do not get an office initially
In the initial stages, don’t worry about finding office premises, assuming you are not making much revenue.
21. Do not get a patent
Patents can cost a small fortune, so they can wait until you establish your business with plenty of customers paying their dues. There is no need to waste money on a patent if it can’t be enforced.
22. Flexibility should be the rule
Your ideas should be flexible when it comes to running your business. You must keep changing according to the demands of your customers - this can be the difference between success and failure.
23. Take your friends and family into your confidence
Always take advice and suggestions from your nearest and dearest, as they will usually give you the most honest feedback.
24. Ignore (some of) the critics
There is a big difference between true criticism, and others who criticize just because they are jealous.
25. Don’t get emotional
Whatever the circumstances, do not show emotions like anger. Be ready to adjust your personality to suit your customers or investors.
26. Deliver products or services on time
When you are launching your products or services, make sure to deliver fast and within the timeframe advertised, as it will be those initial customers who will provide the feedback that can help attract more sales and grow the business.
27. Bring about changes by offering new products or services
To keep your customers loyal to you, keep a steady stream of new products or services.
28. Patience pays
Be patient - success does not come instantly. It can take a long time before you truly reap the fruits of your new business.
29. Overdeliver in the beginning
With new clients, you should make a concerted effort to go above and beyond the call of duty, at least in the first couple of months. The customer will be far more likely to stay loyal to you.
30. Keep blogging
Share your successes and struggles via a blog - customers like business owners who engage openly and honestly with their consumer base.
31. Keep amicable relations with partners
If there are fights and disagreements between partners it will divert your attention, and you won’t be able to focus on the growth of your business.
32. Do not fret over dilution
If investors request a stake in the company, be cool - at some point you’ll have to give up a little control of your company. Accept the fact and move ahead.
33. Hire a copywriter
For email marketing, hire a copywriter to compose emails that target customers. Copywriters also come in handy for press releases, or to spread brand awareness.
34. Go prepared for meetings
Always get information about a client’s firm, industry, employees and everything available to you when attending a meeting.
35. Be ready for competition
A business only exists because of healthy competition, so do not undermine competitors when dealing with customers or investors. Think of them as inspiration to perform well.
36. Word-of-mouth marketing benefits
Ask friends and family to spread the word about your products or services - even in this technological age, old-fashioned word-of-mouth marketing is powerful.
Create a network of business friends, and do not shy away from public appearances like conferences - they can be fantastic opportunities to network, and you never know who you might meet.
38. Provide good customer service
A good business runs efficiently when they provide outstanding customer service, making them feel valued and important.
39. Effective website functioning
Prospective customers want to know about your company; what better way than to visit your website and have all the information at their fingertips? Make sure your website looks great, is functioning properly and optimized for all browsing platforms, including mobile.
40. Don’t fret over changes in the economy
Plenty of businesses have been launched during a period of recession, so there is very little need to worry over the economic situations of the country at large.
41. Ensure that clients pay bills on time
Ensure that all clients make payments for products and services on time. Set a time frame for payments, whether they are made with credit cards or online payments. Don’t let clients take advantage of you.
42. Keep good employees
Hire the right people for the job. You will not be able to do all the tasks required to operate a successful business alone - you need skilled people around you.
43. Assign responsibilities
You should be able to effectively manage your employees by assigning tasks according to their capabilities and skills.
44. Be honest
Be honest if you have any kind of issue with your employees. Address them properly - backbiting is the worst thing you can do.
45. Do not always rely on the advice given by others
Many people might offer advice or assistance in the beginning, but always remember that it is your company and, in the end, you alone are responsible for its success or failure.
46. Say goodbye to (most of) your social life
You’ll be devoting the majority of your time to your new business, certainly in its initial stages. Your social life will most likely suffer as you spend most of your days working.
47. Opposites attract
Try to hire people with different skills and personalities. If they are opposite to you they will challenge you, bringing a diverse range of skills, talents and vision into your business.
48. Find new ways to keep your costs low
Try to keep your costs and expenses low. If your company’s cash flow is not positive it is worthless, as you will need to bring in more cash from somewhere else to run the business.
49. Overestimate expenses and underestimate revenues
It has been observed that when you start a company, expenses are thirty percent more while the revenue can be remarkably less than estimated. Plan for it, then things can only work out better than you thought.
50. Offer what people want to buy, not what you want to sell
Focus on selling a product or service that is proven in the market, rather than jumping into a business you think will be successful.
51. Focus on sales and marketing
From the start, you should focus on getting leads and converting them into sales. Leads are more important than creating a brand. Aggressive marketing creates positive responses.
Have you recently started a business? Maybe you’ve been in business a long time but you still found some of our tips useful. If you have any other nuggets of business wisdom to share with us, we would love to hear from you, so head to the comments section below!