If you’re starting a business, chances are you feel both excitement and trepidation. Startup businesses are notoriously risky and most that succeed do so through trying circumstances. However, if you have an idea that fuels your passion, creating a business around that idea can be one of the most satisfying experiences of your life. You could live the dream of being your own boss and getting paid to do what you love.
There’s nothing that can guarantee success for your startup, but there are several things you can do to give it the best chance. Most advice for entrepreneurs is centered around planning ahead and making thoughtful decisions with an eye on the future. Here are six tips that can help you achieve your entrepreneurial goals.
1. Build a Community
When you’re starting your business, it can be tempting to maintain control of everything and try to do it all yourself. This can quickly lead to burnout and a failed company. While you don’t need to form a partnership or bring on investors right away, it is a good idea to build a community of like-minded professionals. Forming relationships (even internet relationships) with other entrepreneurs can give you a place to brainstorm, to vent frustration and to give and receive encouragement throughout the process.
2. Have a Fallback Plan
Before you invest your time and hard-earned cash in your new company, be sure you have protections in place for unforeseen circumstances. You should have a financial fallback in case your business fails. It’s also wise to automate things when possible so you can take a sick day or a weekend away without all your business procedures coming to a halt. Taking the time to plan ahead can protect both you and your business in case things don’t go exactly as anticipated.
3. Create Smart Partnerships
If you do decide to bring on a partner or small group of investors, you should do it wisely. You should choose a partner who shares your vision and goals for the company, and who has a personality and work style that matches well with yours. It’s also important to make any partnership legal on paper, to protect everyone involved in case disputes happen down the road. It may seem like a sign of bad faith to sign a partnership “prenup” but in reality, it’s a sign that you are taking your company and any potential partnerships seriously.
4. Don’t Undersell Yourself
One mistake a lot of entrepreneurs make is working for a really low rate, or even for free. While it may seem like a good idea to offer significant discounts to gain customers, in reality, this strategy almost never works. Not only will you cement the idea that your products and services aren’t valuable, you will form a client base of people who chose your company based on discounts, not on the quality of your work. It’s better to price your services and products in a way that’s consistent with the market and competition.
5. Hire a Mix of Experience and New Talent
Once your business expands to the point that you’re ready to hire on some additional help, it’s a good idea to choose some experienced employees as well as younger talent. This will give you several viewpoints to push your company forward. Having employees from different generations can help you learn how to reach customers in a broad age range. A mix of experienced and less-experienced employees can also help you keep your payroll budget manageable.
6. Brand Thoughtfully
When you’re starting your business and thinking about your brand, it’s important to brand in a way that speaks to your current offerings but will also be scalable as your business grows. Hampton Creek is a good example of this. The company has marketed their food products to reach their target audience of consumers, but hasn’t shied away from speaking about future goals. The founder is passionate about changing the food production system, and Hampton Creek’s branding has embodied both the current and future elements of the company.
Being an entrepreneur is both exciting and challenging. You have the opportunity to create something from the ground up, and to turn your passion into your career. There are also risks involved and many startups face significant challenges before becoming profitable. However, you can increase your chance of success by building a supportive community, forming wise partnerships and using thoughtful hiring practices. It’s also important to price your services correctly and create engaging, accurate branding.