If you are a business owner, ask yourself this question: “What 10 things would have been great to know when I started my business?” Now, find a way to share your wisdom with up-and-coming business people.
The following are some common pieces of advice from an outstanding article by Scott Gerber of Entrepreneur.com (“10 Tips For the First-Time Business Owner,” Sept. 7, 2009):
- Focus. Focus. Focus. Opportunities are often wolves in sheep’s clothing. Juggling multiple ventures will spread you thin and limit both your effectiveness and productivity. Do one thing perfectly, not 10 things poorly.
- Know what you do. Do what you know. Do what you love. Businesses built around your strengths and talents will have a greater chance of success. It’s not only important to create a profitable business, it’s also important that you’re happy managing and growing it day in and day out.
- Say it in 30 seconds or don’t say it at all. From a chance encounter with an investor to a curious customer, always be ready to pitch your business in a clear and concise manner. Less is always more.
- Know what you know, what you don’t know, and who knows what you don’t. No one knows everything, so don’t come off as a know-it-all. Surround yourself with long-term-focused advisors and mentors who will nurture you to become a better leader and businessperson.
- Act like a start-up. Forget about fancy offices, fast cars, and fat expense accounts. Your wallet is your company’s life-blood. Practice and perfect the art of being frugal. Watch every dollar and triple-check every expense. Maintain a low overhead and manage your cash flow effectively.
- Learn under fire. There is no such thing as the perfect plan. Never jump right into a new business without any thought or planning, but don’t spend months or years waiting to execute. You will become a well-rounded entrepreneur when tested under fire, learning from your mistakes.
- No one will give you money. There, I said it. No one will invest in you. Scale down and simplify. Find ways to prove your business model on a shoestring budget. Demonstrate your worth before seeking investment. If your concept is successful, your chances of raising capital from investors will dramatically improve.
- Be healthy. No, I’m not your mother. However, I promise that you will be much more productive when you take better care of yourself. Entrepreneurship is a lifestyle, not a 9-to-5 profession. Eat right, exercise, and find time for yourself.
- Don’t fall victim to your own hype. Impress with action not conversation. Endorse your business enthusiastically, yet tastefully. Avoid exaggerating truths and touting far-reaching goals as certainties. In short, put up or shut up.
- Know when to call it quits. Contrary to popular belief, a smart captain does not go down with the ship. Don’t go on a fool’s errand for the sake of ego. Know when it’s time to walk away, and take careful note of mistakes for future reference. Failure is inevitable, but a true entrepreneur will prevail over adversity.