Starting your own business can be incredibly rewarding, but it also comes with more risk than working as an employee of someone else’s company. To make sure you don’t get tripped up in any common mistakes that cause entrepreneurs to fail, make sure you follow these ten tips from one of the most successful business people of all time. After reading this list, you’ll have a much better understanding of what it takes to start and run your own business, and you’ll be on your way to earning the success you deserve!
1) Do market research
No matter what your industry or niche, doing some basic market research is always a good idea. Taking time before you get started to learn about your target audience will keep you from wasting money and valuable time on developing products or services that no one wants.
Look at other successful companies in your industry (and ones similar to yours), make an effort to reach out directly to people who use their products or services, and look into existing studies of customer demographics and buying habits.
2) Start with something small, profitable and easy
While starting a new business, it’s easy to become so bogged down in process and bureaucracy that you never take action. Keep your plan simple and start small. Pick one of your passions—be it art, fitness or furniture-making—and run with it.
If you’re successful (and if you follow these steps), you can always expand into other niches. But if you don’t have any customers from day one, then there will be nothing for expansion!
3) Make yourself stand out
Make sure you choose a name for your business that is easy to remember and is easy for customers to type into search engines. Consider unique terms, common misspellings of your potential customers, or variations on more established names (like adding s at the end).
Make sure it’s available as a .com, .net, and .org site. Register it now if possible. The best domain names are short and memorable—try to keep yours under 20 characters, but also make sure it’s not too similar to other existing brands.
Also consider alternate spellings—the most popular brand in one country may be completely unknown in another country. If you can afford a professional logo designer, hire one; otherwise use a free online tool like Canva or Logomakr to create something simple yet eye-catching that still clearly represents your brand.
4) Learn the terminology
As with any field, it’s important to know what people are talking about before you get started. This will not only help you ask better questions and be more informed about your situation, but it can also help you avoid being taken advantage of by people who don’t have your best interests at heart.
There are a lot of terms that you should learn if you want to start a business: What does it mean when someone refers to your idea as an MVP? Why do VCs fund startups? How is ROI calculated? And so on. It’s worth taking some time to look up these terms and understand how they fit into the bigger picture.
5) Start networking now!
Connecting with other professionals in your field is an essential part of starting any business. While you won’t be able to connect with everyone, start networking as soon as possible and you’ll begin establishing relationships that can build upon themselves over time. Networking isn’t just about building contacts, either—it’s also about learning from others and getting feedback on your ideas. Make sure you have a clear idea of what you want to get out of it before starting.
6) Create a business plan
Writing a business plan helps formalize your idea and can streamline the business-creation process by getting you to sit down and think things through methodically. And, yes, plans are (often) worthless, but planning is everything. Many entrepreneurs say they rarely look at their plan once they’ve launched—but they’ll also tell you there’s value in thinking through and researching your idea; writing a business plan is the perfect canvas for this exercise.
7) Seek mentorship
Surround yourself with other entrepreneurs who have already been through what you’re going through now. Mentors are made, not born. Nobody knows how to start a business as well as people who are currently running one. Seek out entrepreneurs with experience and knowledge similar to yours and develop relationships with them.
You’ll learn from their expertise and experiences, get access to advice, resources, and networking opportunities (which will come in handy when things get tough), and much more.
8) Work hard every day
There are two kinds of people in life: those who work hard and those who do not. If you want to start your own business, it is important that you work hard every day. Make sure that you wake up early every morning and start working on your business as soon as possible. An advantage of starting your own business is that you will be able to set your own hours so make sure that you take advantage of that.
9) Keep learning
Investing in your education—even after you’ve graduated from college—is one of the smartest things you can do as an entrepreneur. You’ll learn how to run your business more efficiently, come up with new ideas, and grow into your role as leader. Always continue learning (through conferences, reading books, or informal networking) so that you stay current on industry news and happenings. Check out our guide on How to Start a Business for more tips on starting your own company.
10) Take action
Don’t worry about getting it right—just start. The sooner you take action, the sooner you will learn and can course-correct. In fact, many entrepreneurs say they wished they had started sooner because it would have saved them time and money. Starting is 80 percent of life, according to Woody Allen.
A lot of people don’t get started because they are afraid of failure. This is especially true in creative fields: acting, writing, music. People think that there is a certain way things should be done or that they need permission to do them; either from themselves or from others.