We have curated responses from industry professionals on some critical first steps when starting your business.
I think the one thing you need to start a business is consistency. Even if your idea has been done before, or is not that original, consistency will allow it to become a business. If you wake up every day and apply yourself to growing your business, eventually it will get somewhere. Because the more consistent you are, the more likely you are to get a bit lucky, and every business needs a bit of luck to succeed.
One thing you need for your business is curiosity. For many business owners, it is all about finding a problem and solving it. From when a customer first interacts with you and how you solve that problem for them, it requires a deep knowledge of how a customer could be, and how you more than anyone else can solve their problem. Curiosity will drive you to make better products, be more informed and create better experiences for your clients. You can feed your curiosity by learning more about you industry, listening to podcasts, reading and learning more.
In a word, a good deal of narcissism. This may sound like a negative, and in many situations, it probably is. The American Psychiatric Association defines Narcissistic Personality Disorder as “a pattern of need for admiration and lack of empathy for others. A person with narcissistic personality disorder may have a grandiose sense of self-importance, a sense of entitlement, take advantage of others or lack empathy.” I am not a medical doctor, nor do I play one on TV, but I have a huge amount of experience with entrepreneurs. I used to think the main thing they had in common was risk tolerance, until I met entrepreneurs who were not really risk takers. After careful observation, what I think virtually every successful business startup has is an individual who can suspend reality. They do not believe what others say about their chances of success. In their mind, it simply WILL happen. When things are not looking good, the successful entrepreneur can completely ignore or compartmentalize the facts that do not comport with their reality. A grandiose sense of self-importance to the entrepreneur is simply their worldview. What they have to do and accomplish is simply too important to fail. I have sadly met several entrepreneurs that suffer from many of the negative characteristics described above, but not universally. At the end of the day, the ability to successfully launch a business requires a person to be a little touched in the head. Whether that is actually Narcissistic Personality Disorder, or some yet unnamed malady, clearly you have to be a little crazy.
A professional brand presentation or simply put: Design. As the great Harvey Specter from Suits once said: “First impressions last”. In today’s fast paced world, where customers are flooded with offers and sales pitches from different businesses this could not be truer. I know that as an entrepreneur your whole focus lies on creating the best product for your customers. And that’s great! However, it will not matter at all if your brand and product presentation will not communicate quality and professionality to your potential customer. You might think that this is the next step and is not yet crucial when starting a business. However, your thoughtfully crafted brand design is the first contact point with your potential customer right from the start. If that first contact fails to communicate the quality of your business and products you will not be able to attract customers in the first place.
Anyone who is starting a business needs a mantra to keep them motivated during difficult times. It can be a sentence you can repeat yourself which will help you increase your confidence. My mantra is You will create and run a successful startup, I repeat this to myself during difficult times in business. It helped me to gain confidence and develop an increased self-belief during the worst of situations. It also needs practice it is not probably going to help you from day one but if you practice it continuously it can eventually help you. You can pick any time to practice it, using the time to commute between work and home can be a great time to do it with no other distractions. The journey of an entrepreneur is going to have peaks and trouts emotionally and financially and developing a self-soothing technique like this can be a great tool to keep yourself calm.
1. What are the biggest mistakes startups make? If you want to be successful in business, you need to be OK with failure. You are going to try different things and most of them won’t work out. You need to be able to analyze those failures and apply what you learn to the next idea. Eventually, you will make fewer mistakes and take more calculated risks, which will help you create a more durable company for the long term.
I have started a couple of businesses that have failed. The key is learning from those failures. Do an analysis of why you think that business didn’t succeed. For me, the margins were low, the costs were high and my heart wasn’t in it. That lead me to pursue a business model where the margins were high, the cost was low and it was something that I was genuinely interested in.
2. What types of things should a startup business avoid?
Many businesses fail because they don’t get market validation first.. They come up with an idea but they don't ask others to see if people would actually buy their product or service. Another reason they fail is because of too much leverage. They borrow money to get started and are already at a disadvantage because they need to pay off the debt just to break even. They should avoid the temptation of loans. Many creditors are eager to offer you money to start.
3. Please include anything else an entrepreneur should know about starting a
A start-up should map out a business plan, even if it is just one page. It should include how much it costs to operate, how much they anticipate to sell, who would buy their product and why. Too many businesses start without a basic plan and if you fail to plan you are essentially planning to fail.
I've been asked over the years, 'What is the number one thing that helped grow your business?' Creating repeatable systems and processes helped me essentially duplicate myself in the business. By doing this, I’ve been able to step out of much of the day to day activity and operations of the business and into my CEO role much further. This means I can be the visionary and director for continuing to grow the business.
Thanks for your consideration. Let me know if you have any follow-up questions or need further clarification on anything.
Having more cash on hand than you think you need. Your first round of estimates on sales is too high. And sales take longer than you think they will. Costs are also more than you think they will be. Especially if you don't follow your preliminary plan. Getting distracted by new marketing ideas that you are convinced will work. Or buying more office equipment than you need. And my personal favorite way to spend more than planned - too many printed marketing materials. That usually get thrown away. Through on some unexpected struggles - Covid19, equipment breaking or landlord forgetting to pay his bills. And you can see how extra cash is needed. Extra cash on hand is always the best thing you can do to start a business.
A professional website that highlights your unique selling proposition. You don't have to pay a lot for a professional site but making sure it looks good and provides clear and concise information is key.
*Build Marketing Assets*
When most people start a business, they start with hamster wheel marketing. Hamster wheel marketing is Facebook Ads, cold calls, and direct mail. These
are great for generating income in the short term. However, most new businesses never build evergreen content that will generate income in the long term. Evergreen content is things like YouTube videos and SEO. Building this content takes years to develop but, over time, it can create a steady stream of income. Plus, building a presence on these platforms develops credibility for your business as more and more people research the companies that they are considering doing business with.
*Credibility with Video Content*
When someone is looking for a business to work with, you have to ask yourself what makes you stand out from your competition in the market that provides the exact same services. The easiest aspect to tackle is your credibility and authority within your market. To build this out, you want to create video content for YouTube that you can embed into your website. This video content should include you attending and talking about local events, the local market, client testimonials, and how working with you helped them achieve their personal goals. This provides potential clients with all of the credibility that they need to convince them that you are the expert they are looking for.
Focusing your marketing on local SEO services is a sure way to build awareness about your brand within your own community. Your neighbors are your best audience for the website content. They’re the ones who will be searching for the products and services you have to offer. One great tactic is to make sure you are able to be located on Google. Less than half of local retailers have claimed their My Business Listing on Google, which makes it super easy to outpace the local competition by developing your GMB Listing. Reviews are a great way to build social credibility, especially when those reviews show up on the largest search engine. If you have 20 Five Star reviews and your competition doesn't even have a Google Listing, who do you think will get the business? This advertisement is actually essential to increase your brand’s effectiveness.
There are the conventional things you need to start a business such as a name, a website, etc. To really start a business you need to have grit. Contrary to what you see on TV and the movies, startups can be hard and have lots of ups and downs. To be able to start a business it will require you to dig deep and have grit.
Businesses are made with a bunch of elements when you are starting out. You have to take care of almost all the elements in order to sustain the upcoming business. 62% of US billionaires are self-made. 62% of adults believe entrepreneurship is a good career. The one thing that is most important for any upcoming business to work smoothly in the market is doing complete research. This means that before launching the business, the analyst should analyze the market and its demand for the product or service that they are working with. This will surely create a datasheet from which you can know your niche and also you can pivot your marketing activities in that direction. All you have to do is to research the market before launching the business.
You always need word of mouth. Whether it is family or friends in high places, people should know you are about to embark on a new adventure and also be able to tell others why you are a good choice to spend their money with. Advertisements are one thing, but a personal recommendation from a trusted source will always be the better option to close a deal and drive (legitimate) traffic your way. Instead of getting lost in the ocean of page ads and search results, a vouch of your services and/or skills from a friend can make a business transaction go more smoothly. Friends can relay detailed information that a contact form will not. They can give you direct access to the potential customer; And when your phone number is in the customer's contact book, you're in! Plus, it will give your friends the chance to say, Yeah, I know a guy.
Think and be authentic - I’m surprised how other people can’t think and create for themselves. They're always trying to follow recipe books or strategies they've heard of. It is very important that you trust yourself to have some of the best ideas. So take some time to just think and think out of the box - do not try to replicate what others are already doing. Connect the dots and be authentic. We don't run the company like the others and because we are innovative, that helped us in organically growing the business
One needs a sense of humor to start a business. Time and time again I have had to laugh at myself, my circumstances, and yes, sometimes clients. While you have to take your business seriously, you should rarely take yourself too seriously. You’re going to make mistakes, you’re not going to know all the answers and most of all you’re going to need a lot of help, especially if you’re a solopreneur. I’ve learned that people either fall victim to their circumstances or rise above. Things will go wrong, no matter how well you prepare. Having a sense of humor helps ease the frustration, fear and focus on failure to turning the corner and finding solutions. Sometimes clients say and do the darndest things. Just as children and spouses have selective hearing, so do clients. Don’t get mad; move on. In any relationship you can’t help someone who doesn’t want to help themselves. So is the case with some clients. No one is right or wrong, you’re just not right for each other. It’s better to part ways with a smile than a sneer. Starting a business can be a hard pill to swallow. All in all, laughter truly is the best medicine. It’s also a massage for your guts. Really! I read it in JAMA (Journal of the American Medical Association) years ago.
Sam Williamson is the co-owner of CBDiablo, a health supplements company based in the UK. The company was founded by Sam and his best friend Ian in 2019 and has grown considerably since. The company offers a wide range of CBD products, as well as other heath supplements.
Loren Howard, Founder of Prime Plus Mortgages: Private Money Lenders Arizona
I started my first real business at the age of 26 with two children under the age of two and a very anxious wife. My passion is helping small business owners succeed. It is driven by my childhood experience of an extended family business that went bankrupt. I have worked with hundreds of small businesses from start up to exit, in industries from manufacturing to software. My assistance has been primarily around taxes and finance, but I have also done extensive work with businesses on strategy and execution. Our company, Core Group, helps small businesses across America with lowering taxes through better planning. We promise No Surprises, Real Relationships, and Proactive Communication. I attended the University of Oklahoma, and am licensed as a Certified Public Accountant. Additionally I am certified as a Certified Management Accountant and am accredited in Business Valuation by the American Institute of Certified Public Accountants. I have been married for 26 years, and have three adult children. I have worked as a commercial banker in a previous life, but please do not hold that against me.
Philipp Hana has worked for global companies such as Audi, Adidas and Feadship in their design and marketing departments. Beyond developing innovative marketing campaigns, he worked as a consultant on internal design and creative processes. He was accepted into the Audi Talent Program for exceptional interns and developed the first 3D generated marketing campaign for the Superyachts of Feadship, an LVMH company, which was printed in the world’s most prestigious Superyacht magazine. By founding X10 Design, he currently empowers entrepreneurs and business owners worldwide to own their creative design process to distinguish and level up their brands. Philipp’s vision: By providing entrepreneurs and business owners the right tools and fundamentals of design and branding, they will be able to create their own brand without spending hours for research or hundreds of dollars for mediocre design agencies. Philipp holds a Bachelor’s degree in Design from Nuremberg Tech University and an MBA in International Business and Design Management from EU Business School in Munich and the University of Roehampton in London.
My name is Rahul Mohanachandran and I am the Co-Founder of Kasera. Kasera is a furniture discovery platform that helps consumers find the best furniture in the market at the right price, size, and style. I love the entrepreneurial journey and the emotional roller coaster it brings with it, creating products to solve customer problems is something I am passionate about. Even though I started my career in product development since starting Kasera I learned the dark art of marketing and sales. I am a big advocate of data-driven decision making and the need to complement intuition with proof when it comes to business ideas. At Kasera, I lead the team and look after the marketing, sales, and the product side of the business. My day at Kasera includes planning and creating content that is useful for our customers. I also perform 1 to 1 interviews with the customers and learn about their problem and come up with product ideas to solve them.
My name is Deacon Hayes and I’m a financial expert and the owner/founder of WellKeptWallet.com. Well Kept Wallet was started to help provide personal finance resources for people across the world. After paying off $52,000 of debt in 18 months with my wife, Kim, we decided to share our story and help other people pay off debt, save money, and improve their finances overall. Who knew it would turn into a blog with over 1M viewers?? What I did know is I had to use my experience and share it with others. Now my team writes on topics such as: How to save money, how to make money, how to get out of debt, investing, and side hustles. In fact, I used many techniques we now talk about on my blog because I did not want to go into debt starting a business. We used a cash system and it paid off.
My name is Andrea Travillian and I am a business coach and consultant specializing in helping business owners create profitable businesses that don't require crazy hours. I have been seen on Girl Boss, CEO Nation and Bustle. I started my first business in 2002. Since then I have opened three businesses. The one thing that was important for every single one of them, even though they were in different industries?
Jason is the owner of The Media Captain, a digital marketing and website development company based in Columbus, Ohio that was voted as a Top 1% Agency in the U.S.
Shawn Breyer, owner of Atlanta House Buyers.
Devin Miller here, Patent & Trademark lawyer and the Founder, CEO and Managing Partner of Miller IP Law. As a patent and trademark law firm, we never charge clients for questions and work on a flat fee rate. We help small businesses and startups protect their ideas, products and brands.
I am a content marketing executive at SIA Enterprise. Syed Irfan Ajmal is a digital marketing agency owner, international speaker, syndicated columnist, and podcast host. His bylines & citations include Forbes, the World Bank, SEMrush, Reader’s Digest, Entrepreneur, and several others. He is widely respected for his insights on Content Marketing, Organic Search, and Publicity.
Jerome Williams is a business owner, graphic designer, and web developer for JWorks Studios in Dallas. Over the years, his experience and skill set has grown exponentially. He has matured from a simple logo designer to a highly rated and reliable developer, problem solver, and SEO specialist - even boasting a 100% success rate for getting clients on the fabled first page of Google! In addition to his professional chops, he mentors up and coming designers and programmers, letting them learn from his experiences and pick up tricks along the way. Jerome also shares his knowledge and skills on the web by writing tutorials, creating free plugins, and submitting free-to-use stock images and graphics online. Knowing the many pitfalls of running a business, Williams offers up words of wisdom for others looking to forge their own paths in business by participating in think tanks, writing guest
Daisy Jing here, a YouTube vlogger and a soon to be mompreneur who founded and bootstrapped a now multi-million beauty product line named Banish. I have knowledge and experience in business and marketing. My business is ranked #152nd fastest growing company in INC500. I was also included in Forbes 30 under 30 in manufacturing.
Tami Belt is a 2nd generation Las Vegas native, published author, award-winning Public Relations professional and a speaker She’s also a fan of jazz, classic rock and nice people. She wanted to be a rock star when she grew up but couldn't sing on key, so she sings the praises of others.
In 2002 Tami founded Blue Cube Marketing Solutions to transform the way companies approach communication strategy and community engagement. She places clients in the spotlight by equipping them with communication tools to build relationships, spark conversations and help shape their brand.
In November of 2015, Balboa Press published a collection of Tami’s poems in Poetic Justice: Lessons of love, life and relationships. This book represents a 360 moment through sharing part of her story. Tami claims she didn’t write the poems, they wrote her, starting at age 12 when she thought no one was listening or could understand.
Tami believes everyone has a story someone in the world needs to hear for insight, inspiration and know they’re not alone.