Your business is a huge success. You lead a determined, hardworking team, your profits increase every year, and you are praised as an innovative entrepreneur, a true leader on the cutting edge of the start-up field…
That’s a pretty nice mental image, isn’t it?
Today, that dream is more achievable than ever before. Becoming a successful small business owner is within your grasp – but you’ve got to start from a solid foundation. Take small, deliberate steps to prepare yourself for leaps and bounds of progress later on.
Here are four valuable pieces of advice given by real-life business founders when asked about “the secret to their success”:
Start with a Plan
“Start with a plan” doesn’t simply mean “come up with a business idea and hit the ground running”. Before your business can launch, you’ve got to do lots of research and develop a solid business plan. This will help convince potential investors and team members that you know what you’re doing and aren’t simply flying blind into an uncertain future.
Write out your business plan in clear, straightforward language. Identify marketing goals – where do you want to be in six months? In a year? In five years? Don’t forget to also focus on potential problems which you might encounter, such as lack of profits in your company’s early days, so that you can prepare solutions in advance.
Understand Financial Realities
It’s highly likely that most of the issues you list in your business plan will centre around money. After all, companies of all sizes succeed or fail based on their ability to turn a profit while keeping internal costs as low as possible.
For a small business, the unfortunate truth is that profit will not come immediately. Many start-ups spend as long as a year “in the red” as they make up for the money spent on P2P marketplace software, licenses, trademarks, hiring, and the incorporation process. For this reason, it is recommended that you do not start your business until you have money set aside to cover these potentially high initial costs.
Additionally, entrepreneurs around the world highlight the importance of hiring a good accountant. Do not try to do your own accounting untrained or rely on online options or software. Hire a competent, professional accountant who will be able to guide your company through its difficult first year.
Own Your Name, Create Your Brand
This seemingly minor but crucial step is overlooked by many would-be entrepreneurs: choose a name for your business before beginning operations. Make sure it’s a catchy, memorable name that will help you stand out among your competitors. Additionally, do research to ensure that it is not previously trademarked, patented or licensed – and then immediately trademark it yourself. Register a domain name for your company so that you can begin creating your Web site.
Develop an eye-catching logo that can form the core of a successful marketing strategy. Hire a professional graphic designer for this task, whether a freelancer or a permanent member of your team. Keep in mind that this logo will represent your brand on everything from flyers to social media sites, and choose one which pairs well with your company name and advertising slogan.
You Cannot Fear Failure
Lastly, never forget that the path to success is paved with positive thinking. Starting your own business is a daunting task, which some days may seem absolutely impossible. However, you can never let yourself fear the possibility of failure – as this can lead to feeling “hopeless” and even giving up on your dreams.
Instead, learn to accept that failure is an inevitable part of reaching success. Everything from marketing initiatives to new product releases can and will fail. Don’t see these failures as disheartening signs that your business is not meant to be. Mentally re-frame them as important lessons which will help you learn and make you better informed when it comes time to make new decisions or implement new ideas.
There’s no one magical strategy which will make starting your own business quick or easy. It is a long, slow, often difficult road which comes with more than its fair share of roadblocks. However, by preparing, researching and entering into each new venture as well-informed as possible, your odds of success will increase exponentially.
Follow the advice presented here, and soon your ideas, your plans and your dreams will be well on their way to becoming your new reality!