Have you made a commitment to yourself that this is the year you chase your entrepreneurial dream? Are you tired of trying to ignore the niggling voice of the entrepreneur trapped inside your current 9-to-5 self and are ready to leave a life of safe choices behind? Before you jump into the deep end and chase your dream, you might want to first consider a few hard truths. Following are ten tips for early stage entrepreneurs to help you along your journey:
Execution Matters More than Ideation
Just because you have a phenomenal idea for a startup company that doesn’t mean you’re going to be a successful founder. Without the tenacity to turn your idea into a profitable business, you’re just a daydreamer.
In today’s social media environment, branding is incredibly important. You’re going to need an excellent product and marketing personnel who relentlessly hunt for opportunities. Don’t delude yourself into thinking that an excellent product or a hipster marketing team alone are enough to make your business successful. Without a catchy tagline, socially savvy marketing efforts, and a top-notch product, you are likely to be beat out by your competitors. Others may have an inferior product but if their marketing prowess dwarfs yours, your startup is sunk.
Know Exactly Who Your Ideal Paying Customer is and Target Their Needs
Don’t let others persuade you to add features or develop tools if those additions are not relevant to your target customer. Trying to please too many parties with too many tweaks can cost you valuable time and money.
Whether you’re a struggling entrepreneur or a successful founder, being helpful to others can help you build long-term valuable relationships. You don’t necessarily have to take crucial time away from your own endeavours, but be willing to make an extra effort to help others.
Reduce Replication Attempts
Make your business hard to replicate or at least establish a strong community of faithful customers. If your startup proves successful, others are going to try to replicate your success. While copycats might try to ride on your coattails, don’t give them the chance to steal your community members. Value your community members and make every effort to maintain their loyalty.
Maintain Cash Flow
Being profitable is not the same thing as having sufficient cash flow. You can tell others your startup is profitable but if you don’t have adequate cash flow for ongoing expenses, you are on your way to disaster. Know your numbers and don’t let anything get in the way of maintaining a sufficient cushion of cash.
Build Your Base
Build your customer base before you launch. No, that’s not a list of beta testers or Twitter followers. If you are building a business based upon a freemium model, have your revenue generation plans nailed before you open your startup to the public. A customer acquisition strategy based upon freemium features is only good until the next shiny startup comes along.
Know Your Costs and Profit Margins
As an entrepreneur launching a new business, it is essential you understand your operating costs and profit margins. It isn’t enough to sell your product or service for more than it costs you to make. You must know how strong your margins have to be if you want to remain ‘in the black’. This includes understanding how expenditures will impact your profitability and being prepared to double-down on revenue generation when needed.
Know Your Weaknesses
Understanding your weaknesses as an entrepreneur is essential. Whether you hire to compensate for your shortcomings or you train to overcome your weaknesses, it is crucial you know your own internal challenges. Remind yourself daily that “failing to plan is planning to fail”.
Communication is Crucial
Communication is crucial for long-term success. From communicating with your co-founder to detailing activities for investors, you need to master the art of brevity and brilliance. Don’t spend unnecessary time explaining every nuance of your business’ movements, but instead know which points are essential and which can be omitted.
Choosing to be an entrepreneur is definitely not for the faint of heart. You’re going to endure sleepless nights, strained relationships, and frayed nerves. You’re likely to feel like you’re constantly walking a tightrope between exhilaration and exhaustion. If you’re able to arm yourself with a few truths before you begin your journey, you might be able to lessen the battle scars. Hopefully the above tips will help protect you on your travels.