Consultants, experts, mentors, advisors – Those who have “been there done that…”
They will always tell you – “It takes a certain type of person to be an entrepreneur…”
Doggedness, resiliency, aspiration, optimism, whatever the traits you’ve been told are necessary to become an entrepreneur, we’re here to tell you… There are no prerequisites!
If you have an idea that you think people could benefit from, you’re already there. The rest of the skills can be learnt, developed or insourced.
Below, we provide 8 essential startup tips for developing those all-important entrepreneurial skills to help turn your idea into a profitable business.
Tip #1 – Go with the flow
Starting a business can be tough. There’s no denying that. Make life easier by starting your business in a growing market, not a declining one. There are only a few very limited examples of businesses which have managed success in declining sectors.
Always try and go with the flow of the market or sector you intend on operating in. Or even better, try becoming the trendsetter in your sector, paving the way forward and being the innovator for your industry.
Tip #2 – Know your strengths
Your previous experience has likely paved the way for your business idea. Your experiences, background and skills are your greatest assets, and will help you achieve the success you dream of, provided you know how to utilise them in the best possible way.
Identify your strengths and weaknesses at an early stage. Make sure you use your time investing your strength into the business. If you have the time, try and develop some of your weaker skillsets. If you don’t, then find individuals or business which can support you. There’s no point spending all your time trying to improve your weaknesses at the sacrifice of not utilising your strengths.
Tip #3 – Carve out your niche
What do you do differently from your competition? What do you represent? Why should the customer choose you? These questions will help you identify your unique selling propositions (USPs). Whilst you do not necessarily have to be different from what already exists in the market, you should certainly have something which defines your business and brand.
Do you offer the best service around? Are you cheaper than your competitors? Do you carry out business in a completely new and unique way? Whatever your niche, carve it out and pitch it! Your customers need to know why you’re different from what already exists. It’s much easier to tempt people towards your products or services if they clearly gain some advantage by working with you.
Tip #4 – Identify the need
Just like going with the flow, it’s much easier to sell a solution than trying to explain a problem. Whilst inevitably, your product or service is focused on solving a problem for your audience, that problem needs to exist and be known by your customers.
Avoid spending your whole time trying to educate your audience on a problem that exists. If they aren’t already aware of it, it probably isn’t affecting them all that much. Establish the need, and sell the solution – that way your audience can trust that your business is the one to make their lives easier.
Tip #5 – Bootstrap the business
Budgeting and bootstrapping is an essential skill for small businesses. If this isn’t one of your stronger skills, or you’ve always been a little frivolous with your finances, get some help! Without a budget and solid financial planning, you’ll quickly see your costs spiralling out of control.
Some businesses require a large amount of financing to get off the ground, whilst others can be started with little or no costs. Whatever your business model, there are always ways to stretch out your investment. Work from home, use freelancers and interns, consider kick-starter campaigns. Try and gain the sales before investing huge amounts into an idea so you know the money will be there when you need it.
Tip #6 – Ensure you have support
Support can come in many forms. Family, friends, colleagues, mentors. Ensure you have the backing of anyone you will be in contact with during the course of starting your small business. You will have some challenging times ahead, so surrounding yourself with people who support you and your business will ensure that you can remain positive during the more difficult times.
Positive mental support is one thing, but you can always take it further. Consider the people you know within your personal and professional network who can support the various aspects of your business. Do you know anyone who may need your product or service? Is there someone you know who is particularly good with their finances? Is there anyone looking for some part-time work or trying to develop new skills in the areas in which you specialise? Make the most of your network and the people closest to you.
Tip #7 – Get organised
Being organised is probably one of the most important attributes of an entrepreneur. If you’re not already inherently organised, it’s time to start developing this skill. There are plenty of solutions out there that can help, and spending a little time from the outset finding the best ways to keep organised is well worth the investment.
Get organised, and keep that way. Find the right people to support the more challenging organisational aspects of your business, or invest in the solutions to help you manage different business functions. If your business continues in disarray, this will not be easy to remedy later down the line. It doesn’t reflect well to your customers, investors or potential business partners.
Tip #8 – Retain your customers
Never neglect your existing customers! It’s often much easier to sell to an existing customer than it is to find new ones. Gather information on everyone you have dealt with. What were they looking for? Why did they choose you? How happy were they with your service? All this information will help you optimise your services and know when your existing customers will be in a position to buy from you again.
The essential entrepreneurial skills
Whilst there are no prerequisites to becoming an entrepreneur, there is still plenty you can do maximise your chances of making a success out of your small business.
Know your strengths and weaknesses. Know when it’s best to try something yourself, or when to enlist the support of others. Whatever you choose to do, your greatest assets are you and your business idea – so focus on what you need to do to turn your idea a reality!
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