The most important tip for the success of any start-up is to learn 'everything' you can about the industry.
Including and not limited to the following: What are the market trends? How big is the market? Is the current market growing or static? How will your product or service impact the industry? Who is your target audience? Who are your competitors? How is your product or service different and better? What problem does your product or service solve?
Don’t be afraid to ask the hard questions, all great leaders do. The sooner you learn about any potential challenges, the greater the chance of success. The internet will provide lots of useful information, but you need to get out there, talk to consumers, industry experts and any key players who may be instrumental to your success.
"Innovation distinguishes between a leader and a follower." – Steve Jobs
The value of your networking goes well beyond the initial meet and greet. Your contacts can open doors to customers, vendors, employees, funds and provide some useful insights into the marketplace. It's very important to let people know what you're about and create as many mutually beneficial business connections as possible.
"Networking is marketing. Marketing yourself, marketing your uniqueness, marketing what you stand for." - Christine Comaford-Lynch
Sometimes, first-time entrepreneurs feel the need to jump at every opportunity they come across. Juggling multiple ventures will spread you thin and limit both your effectiveness and productivity. Do one thing perfectly, not ten things poorly.
"Your life is controlled by what you focus on." - Tony Robbins
Don't start a business simply because of profit margins. Try to do what you enjoy. Businesses built around your strengths and talents will have a greater chance of success. It's not only important to create a profitable business, but it's also essential that you're happy working in the business daily. If your heart isn't in it, your long-term focus probably won't be either.
If you need large sums of capital to launch your venture, go back to the drawing board. Find a starting point instead of an end point. Scale down pricey plans and grandiose expenditures. Simplify the idea until it's manageable as an early-stage venture. Find ways to prove your business model on a shoestring budget. Demonstrate your worth before seeking investment. If your concept is successful, your chances of raising capital from investors will dramatically improve.
"The biggest barrier to starting a company isn't ideas, funding, or experiences. It's excuses." - Sarah Lacy
Always be prepared for a chance encounter with a potential investor or new customer. Can you state your mission, service, and goals in a clear and concise manner in under thirty seconds? Make sure you fit the pitch to the person you're talking with.
"The secret to success is constancy to purpose." - Benjamin Disraeli
No one knows everything, so don't come off as a know-it-all. Try to find successful, knowledgeable individuals with whom you share common interests and mutual business goals that are willing to nurture you to become a better leader and entrepreneur.
"I've learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel." - Maya Angelou
Entrepreneurship is a lifestyle, not a nine-to-five agreement. Working to the point of exhaustion will burn you out and make you less productive. Don't make excuses. Eat right, exercise and find time for yourself.
"Working is part of life, I don't know how to distinguish between the two, work is an expression of life." - Orson Welles
Don't' talk the talk' unless you can 'walk the talk'. People will be impressed with action not a whole lot of talking about what you are going to do. Make sure you endorse your business enthusiastically, yet tastefully. Avoid exaggerating truths and touting far reaching goals as certainties.
"Most people will talk the talk; few will walk the walk; be amongst those few." - Dr Steve Maraboli
Forget about cool fancy offices, fast cars, and expense accounts. Your money will now be your company's lifeblood. Watch every dollar and check every expense. Keep it real and your expenses to a minimum for the time being. Maintain a low overhead and manage your cash flow effectively. It's also a good idea to start receiving some financial and tax advice moving forward.
"You must gain control over your money or the lack of it will forever control you." – Dave Ramsey
Most entrepreneurs make a few initial mistakes, some product and service adjustments may be necessary before finding the ideal solution. Keep in mind, through the twists and turns, many great companies have been built where the failure of an initial idea wasn't the failure of the company.
"Success is stumbling from failure to failure with no loss of enthusiasm." - Winston Churchill
There's nothing that can prepare you to become a successful entrepreneur. There is no such thing as a 'perfect plan'. There is no straightforward road or one less travelled. Never jump right into a new business without thought or planning. On the other hand, don't spend months or years waiting to execute. If you have decided to do it, then just do it. One thing is for sure, you will become a more well-rounded entrepreneur when tested under fire. The most important thing you can do is learn from your mistakes and never make the same mistake twice.
Successful entrepreneurs agree that just because you didn’t succeed with an idea, it doesn’t mean you're a failure. You must own the disappointment, learn from the experience and then move onto the next venture. You want to make sure you take the time to feel it and feel how it changes you, because it will.
That feeling will give you greater empathy for what other entrepreneurs have been through to get to where they are today and a better understanding of the courage and perseverance it really takes to build the dream. In turn, this will make you a stronger, wiser, and more determined leader ready to take on the next challenge and become the successful entrepreneur you know you can be.
Contrary to popular belief, a smart captain does not go down with the ship. Know when it's time to walk away. If your idea doesn't pan out as predicted, reflect on what went wrong and the mistakes that were made. Determine what you would have done differently, how you will utilise these hard-learned lessons to better yourself and your future entrepreneurial endeavours.