Becoming an entrepreneur sounds like the ultimate dream. You no longer have someone breathing down your neck, you get to set your own work schedule and the best part? You get to keep all the profits!
But although that all sounds terrific, getting to that place can be a lot harder than you think. You might end up working long days and spending your entire life savings on your idea trying to make it work - which is far from the glamorous idea we have of entrepreneurs.
To help you foresee any hurdles and become a successful entrepreneur, we’ve listed some top tips to follow below.
1. Plan Your Business
Before you dive into creating any business, you need to make sure you have a thought-out business plan. This will include your objectives, strategies and financial figures, which potential investors will refer to when measuring the prospects of the business.
You also need to make sure that you have an idea that will solve a problem for your consumers, whether it’s a service or product that will make people’s lives a little easier.
Take Jennifer Hyman for example, who is the driving force behind Rent the Runway, a multimillion business idea that allows women to rent designer clothes straight off the catwalk.
2. Do Some Market Research
Your business will, of course, not interest everyone in the world, which is why it’s so important to conduct market research on your target market. You must first establish if there will be a demand for your product and if there are any improvements that need to be made before you launch your business.
If you’re not sure who your consumers will be, it’s vital that you stop what you’re doing and identify this information as soon as possible. Think about who your customers are, if they will need your service on a daily basis or if it’s something that many people can live without. This will help you identify if it’s a good idea to pursue at all.
3. Finance Your Business
To launch a successful business, you need a large sum of money behind you. If you have personal savings to use, then great. But most aspiring entrepreneurs often don’t have the financial backing they need.
This is where you need to understand your options. You could either look for investors to pump money into your business for a percentage of profits or you could obtain a startup loan from a bank. (When looking into the second option, be mindful of interest rates to ensure you can afford the repayments.)
If you’re looking for financial investors, you need to ensure that your projections are realistic. If you’re assuming you’ll make $2 million in net profit in a year, you’re most likely too ambitious and you won’t be taken seriously.
4. Create a Company Profile
If you’re planning on establishing a brand, you need to make sure you have a strong company profile that tells consumers and investors what your story is, why you’re unique and how you can help them solve a problem or enjoy a service.
Depending on the use of this profile, you’ll need to ensure it’s written in a way that will captivate your readers. For example, if you’re using the company profile to tell a story on your website, you wouldn’t make it stuffy with facts and figures. However, if this is for an investment, you’ll need to include statistics, awards, achievements and projections.
5. Market Your Brand
A good marketing strategy can make your brand, whereas no strategy at all can damage your business. For example, when you think of Christmas, you might think of Coca-Cola or John Lewis. And that’s because they’ve been creating captivating TV advertisements for years in a bid to attract you to their products.
Likewise, when thinking of your own brand, think of the most effective marketing methods. If you’re targeting millennials, you’ll need to focus on social media, for example. If you’re looking to attract pensioners, on the other hand, a billboard or newspaper ad will be more effective.
6. Recognise the Risks
When venturing out on your own, there are many risks involved, including a less than secure salary, the risk of failure and the risk of developing a variety of health issues if you spend all your time devoted to your business.
On the other hand, there are also many rewards if your business booms. But before you quit your day job and jump on the entrepreneurial bandwagon, you should first determine what you can afford to lose.
7. Get a Partner on Board
To minimise your personal risk and have someone to fall back on, it’s wise getting another partner on board. They’ll be able to advise you, bring another opinion to the table and offer an extra pair of hands to the business.
Most companies get a partner on board who is knowledgeable in a different area. For example, retail brand Superdry has two cofounders, James Holder (a design guru) and Julian Dunkerton (who comes from a retail business background). Thanks to their expertise and experience with their own fashion labels, the business grew from a single market stall to an internationally recognised brand.
8. Have the Right Qualities
There’s a variety of key characteristics that make a good entrepreneur. For one, you need to be independent and self-reliant, as well as able to achieve great things on your own. If you’re someone who works better as part of a team, though, then it might best to stick to your 9-to-5 job.
Most entrepreneurs are also savers, not spenders; they got to where they are today because they managed to get a good amount of money behind them and can budget effectively when it comes to funding their business.
9. Invest in Your Education
Most people assume that education isn’t needed to start a business. But that isn't always true!
Let’s say you want to open a beauty salon, for instance. To truly understand the business, you’ll need a cosmetology certification as a bare minimum. Some knowledge in business would also be advantageous to help you manage the books and run the entire organisation; make sure you research what courses are available, so that you possess the right qualifications to boost your credibility.
10. Create a Company Culture
Company culture is more important today than ever before. Millennials are looking beyond paycheques and into the benefits that companies are offering. For example, Google has nailed company culture with free breakfast and lunch bars, flexible hours, an on-site gym, nap pods, healthcare and complimentary beauty treatments, making it one of the best, and most envious, places to work.
If you want to be known as a great entrepreneur, you too will need to invest in your employees and the culture of the company. After all, word of mouth is the most effective form of marketing.
11. Network, Network, Network
Networking is also necessary to develop your company. You never know who you might meet on the train, while grabbing lunch or at an actual networking event. Be sure to get yourself out there promoting your business at every opportunity you get.
You can also network on LinkedIn by connecting with like-minded professionals and sharing content. Someone may see your venture and feel strongly about what you’re offering!
12. Have the Right Skills
Anyone can attempt to be an entrepreneur, but to be a good one, you need the right skillset behind you. For example, excellent interpersonal and communication skills to articulate what you want to say clearly will go a long way.
Moreover, you’ll need the relevant hard skills to ensure you have the knowledge to carry your business through, including business and financial skills, IT skills and a good understanding of digital marketing.
13. Stay Healthy
You’re probably wondering what health has to do with entrepreneurship, but without a healthy mind and body, you can easily become ill and fall back on your work.
Most successful entrepreneurs incorporate exercise into their daily routine, like Richard Branson, for example, who plays tennis and goes for a run before his workday begins. Then there’s Apple CEO Tim Cook, who wakes up at 3:45am to get a session in the gym before he heads to the office.
14. Be Adaptable
Adaptability is often defined as the key to success as an entrepreneur. Being able to change strategies, take new turnings and find quick solutions is an integral part of striving for success and keeping a company alive.
As an entrepreneur, you’ll also be expected to handle what the day throws at you, which is usually completely off schedule to what you planned. If you can’t handle unexpected situations well, you might not be cut out for entrepreneurship.
15. Have a Good Support System
Being a business owner is stressful for this very reason alone; you need a good support system around you to help keep you sane and grounded. You should be able to consult with these people and value their opinion.
As mentioned previously, this support system can be found in the form of a business partner. You can rely on each other for emotional stability. That person can provide you with a level-headed answer that others outside of the business may be too scared to give you.
16. Challenge Yourself
If you want to be a successful entrepreneur, you will need to challenge yourself and move outside of your comfort zone from time to time. Take Mark Zuckerburg for example; even though he achieved instant success with the launch of Facebook, he continues to challenge himself by developing new concepts and features.
As an entrepreneur, you should continue to develop your brand and product, and think of answers to new problems that keep emerging! In other words, don’t be a one hit wonder!
17. Set Goals
Setting goals on a daily and long-term basis will ensure that your business stays on track and reaches those targets that you set out to begin with. It will also assist in measuring success and identifying problems.
Let’s say that your production team keeps failing to meet their quotas; it will suggest that there’s something wrong with the process and will need closer attention to ensure you make it right. If you didn’t have goals and targets, however, you may fail to identify this issue.
18. Understand the Pros and Cons
There’s a huge list of pros and cons of becoming your own boss. The obvious advantages are being independent, receiving the profits of your business and working on something that you believe in, as well as a good work-life balance.
The disadvantages include a risk of failing and losing all your investments, not receiving a guaranteed monthly salary, as well as working longer hours to get your desired results. So, before venturing out on your own, it’s vital that you compile a list of pros and cons.
19. Stay Ambitious
When you’re starting out, you’ll have the willingness to face challenges and grow. However, after some years in business, owners are often defeated and lose the will when faced with hardships.
The fight to not give up and strive for success, however, is the perfect ingredient for victory. You should never wait for someone to fix your issues; instead, take control and make sure you get where you want to be!
20. Employ Smart People
The final key piece of becoming an entrepreneur is realising your strengths and where you need help. This is achieved by hiring the right people who can bring more to the table. For example, Richard Branson is known for his lack of knowledge in finance, which is why he hired smart accountants to oversee that side of the business.
With the right mindset and passion, you can become a successful entrepreneur! You just need to remember to follow these steps and be prepared for a bumpy ride!
Do you have any additional tips for aspiring entrepreneurs? If so, join in on the conversation below to share your thoughts and experiences.