Learning from the Leading: Free Advice from Market Leaders for First-Time Business Owners

Mixed emotions galore

As a first-time business owner you are probably experiencing a smorgasbord of emotions as you get ready to put up the ‘open’ sign on your store or launch that website. You are nervous, excited, proud, petrified and jumping for joy all at the same time while trying to stay calm and professional so you don’t lose sight of the big picture.

All this is great but what is even better is getting free advice from people who have gone before and made it. And that’s what we have here for you! You may not get a chance to sit across the table from these leading entrepreneurs but we made sure you had the next best thing. Here goes!

How badly do you want this?

It is a common question but think about it: what are you willing to do to make sure your business succeeds? There are some things you may not like doing, but you have to do them. There may be times you get tired, frustrated and want to give up but you have to get it together and be your best cheerleader because this is your baby. At the end of the day, your determination to succeed will be show in the success of your business.

What exactly are you doing?

Figure out exactly what you want to do. Getting caught up in many ‘opportunities’ is often a waste of valuable time, energy and money. After all, some of these opportunities may be wrong for you and just plain wrong.

You would rather succeed at one thing than fail at several. Get focused and stay focused. Let the distractions come and go but stay your course and see it through. Plus, if you feel the need to jump of your trail to passing ones then maybe you should rethink your entire product or service because clearly, you don’t believe in it enough.

Do you love it?

Most people start their own businesses after years of being stuck in dead-end jobs that they are not passionate about. Whether that’s your story or not, you need to make sure that this business is something that you absolutely love.

Choose a business that uses your natural talents and abilities. Choose something that you could actually do for free because the truth is, profit follows passion, not the other way round. If you love it, you will work at it and make it work.

Do they love it?

While you may love it, making money is about other people loving your product or service. It is important to find a viable market for what you are selling so locating your target audience is critical. You should provide something that solves a real problem for your client.

You may think your product works but putting it out in the market will let you know whether it is meeting the felt need or if you need to make some changes. It will also tell you if your market can support your business.

All in 30 seconds (or five words)

This is important when you are meeting a potential investor or customer. You should be able to pitch your product or service in 30 seconds or give an overview of what your business is about in five words or less. This is what we call branding.

So think about your mission and goals and put them down in a clear manner. Make it short, sweet, informative and memorable.

Quick decisions

You need to be able to make a decision and stick with it. Indecisiveness is not only unattractive in a business owner (for investors, co-workers and customers) but dangerous for the business because some critical decisions are often made at the drop of a hat. The longer you take, the more you lose.

Get all you facts together, analyze them, find possible response scenarios and make a decision…quickly! You will not always make the right moves but adjust them and move on; no use crying over spilt milk, right?

Watch for early signs of failure

This goes with this preceding point. You have probably sunk in all you had and even gone into debt to start this business. Failure for you could mean losing literally everything you own and then some; you simply cannot afford this.

Keep an eye out for the signs of potential failure and handle it immediately. Monitor your numbers, market and product regularly to see what you may be doing wrong vis-à-vis what is working well for you.

Spend money to make money…but on the right things!

As a new business owner, you may want to look like a major league player but you certainly cannot afford that lifestyle. If you weren’t frugal before, you need to learn now! Keep your personal and business expenses as low as you can and make sure you can account for each penny. The good life will come later, okay?

Put your money where your mouth is

It may seem funny to advocate honesty in the business world but that is what will get you ahead. Never ever promise on something and not deliver. Your reputation is one of the best and most valuable assets you will ever have for your business, don’t sell it for your ego or a quick buck. Say only what you mean, present yourself and your business as it is really is. You’ll thank yourself in the long run.

Don’t work yourself to death

This doesn’t contradict the first point, it actually emphasizes it. If you want your business to succeed you must put in the work but how is that going to happen when you are too sick and burnt out to even get out of bed?

You need your body at optimum function for your business to succeed so eat healthy, exercise, hydrate, rest and sleep. That way, you will be sharp enough to do all the things on this list.

Renee Rain

Renee Rain is a motivational speaker, life coach, and owner of a debt consolidation firm. She lives in Washington with her husband and two daughters.

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