Over the years I have worked with hundreds of new entrepreneurs. I often compare starting a business to motherhood -- both involve excitement, joy and complete fear and self doubt as to whether you are up for the job -- be it as a business owner or parent. Here are some pointers for new entrepreneurs.
1. If you build it they will come
While we are scared, because let's face it, your business could bomb, there is also that enthusiasm and passion about your new venture that can foster what I call the "if you build it, they will come" mentality. Oh that it worked that way, but having a website and business cards, usually doesn't quite do it.
2. It takes longer than you think
In fact, it frequently takes much longer than you think for your business to take off and be financially viable. Doing anything for the first time is a learning experience and there are often delays and pitfalls along the way.
3. Make sure you have enough savings
Because it takes longer than you think to get a paid customer through the door, folks often don't set aside enough funds to cover their day-to-day costs for several months. I usually recommend at least six months operating funds just to carry you through.
4. Your estimations may not always be accurate
Frequently the new entrepreneur overestimates the revenue coming in, but underestimates the money going out to start the business. Having a realistic budget helps keep you on track.
5. Who's your tribe?
At the beginning a warm body that can afford to pay for what you offer will do, but in reality, you really need to drill down and be very clear on who your target audience is, because when you do, your marketing (and time) are better spent trying to reach that customer.
6. You don't know, what you don't know
Everything is so new and at times it can be hard to know just what you should be doing next. I remember one newbie confessing that she gets up and hasn't a clue what she should be doing to move her business along. Getting together with other new entrepreneurs helps you feel less alone and you will likely find you are all experiencing that same sense of overwhelm.
7. The buck stops here
If you have started a business after working in say the corporate sector, no doubt you were used to having someone else around to do the photocopying, etc... But when you are a solopreneur and until you can afford to outsource work -- you are it.
8. It can be isolating
If you are used to working with other people, and now find yourself working alone at home, it can be isolating. Look to joining some networks so you get out and meet like-minded people who are on a similar path to you and who can help you find customers.
9. Managing relationships
Your family and friends may be supportive of your new venture (but not always). Spouses, for example, may be wondering just how long it is going to take you to make some real money and may put on pressure for you to go back to a day job. Friends also don't always understand that just because you are at home, you can't drop things to have coffee when it suits them.
10. Believe in yourself
It can be all too easy to get discouraged when the business isn't flowing in the way you expected. My advice is to surround yourself with people who believe in you and encourage you to stay the course. Having an accountability buddy can help you stay focused and on track.
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