A few days ago, I was interviewed by a Salem State University business student about Entrepreneurship. She asked me to discuss what a person needs to know BEFORE they jump in to the waters of being an entrepreneur. So, I created my own list of 8 things to consider before starting a business. This list is for those of you who are thinking about being an entrepreneur, but not sure if you should launch a business.
1.) PASSION for a Product or Service to offer.
I have always enjoyed helping people sell their products. From the time I was 5 years old and I knew my Dad sold business forms, I would ask business owners if they needed my Dad to design a form for their business. I really loved to help people be successful. So, my passion for advertising and being a marketing consultant is part of the fiber of who I am. It is not something I have to “think” about. It is who I am. When you love a product or a service to a point where you would make the product or offer your service even if you never were paid, then odds are that you will happily work the hours you need to make your new business a success!
2.) Family and Friends who are willing to support you.
This is key…there will be days when you need both cheerleaders and people who are willing to fund your dream while you are building the business. You need all the support you can get! Keep in mind, though, there is a certain number of close family and friends who might not wish to see you succeed. Maybe they are struggling in their own life and seeing you happy and successful just is too difficult. Be patient and do not take this personally. Often these same people will one day be your strongest supporters. Try to surround yourself with the positive influences and support and ask your team for help!
The amount of cash depends on your own business model and what type of lifestyle you were accustomed to living BEFORE you start your business. Be prepared to have no paycheck for the first couple of years. This time can vary depending on what type of business you start, but you need to be prepared to have other resources while you build your business. Right now businesses are having more success with local bank loans than the larger institutions. Contacting a financial consultant or a business lawyer will help you to determine other avenues to fund your business venture. Should you use your own investments? Is this the right solution for you? Ask the experts, but realize that you do not make a profit right away so you need to have a plan and then work your plan.
4.) An Understanding of your Strengths and Weaknesses.
It is important to be honest to yourself in what you can and can’t do well. Unsure if you should have a DBA, LLC, or be incorporated?…consult a business attorney. If you are disorganized and not good with numbers consider a bookkeeper service or an accountant. If you have a niche product that needs to get out quickly in the market consult a marketing consultant / coach or advertising agency. And, if you really hate sales and know that this is your weakness and it is a key part for your business, don’t delay…hire a sales person or staff. Spend your time and energy on what you do best and hire your weaknesses.
5.) Have THICK skin and a great smile. Determination!
If you are the type of person who is hurt easily when someone says “no” to you or you have very little experience with getting back up after falling several times…owning your own business might not be for you. The road to Entrepreneurship is not paved with gold. Pot holes, quicksand, deadly snakes litter the way until you build a strong bridge to travel on. Be prepared to find out some of the people in your life can’t handle you succeeding so they do not reach out to help or tell others about your great company. This road is YOURS. Be thankful for the good days and people who are there for you and understand that tomorrow is never guaranteed. Be determined no matter who or what gets in the way!
6.) Ability to Self-Motivate and Great Work Habits.
Having determination is key, but if you are someone who is slow to get up in the morning and you are relaxed with getting back to people who call and you are not too organized…..this might not be for you.
7.) A Partner Who BELIEVES!
If you plan to have a partner in your business you must be sure that they are 110% in. There is nothing worse than having someone who sabotages your dream daily with their negativity. And, for those who are married or in a committed relationship and have a significant other who may not work in the business…..know that THIS is your partner in business, too. These people are KEY to your success. If you go home in the evening and listen to their doubts and fears it is as bad as having a partner at work that is negative. And, if you have been blessed with a GREAT partner like I have…be sure to tell them daily that you are thankful for their support and faith in you and your dream!
8.) Get Connected!
If you are slow to understanding the importance of Social Media and developing your own brand, you will struggle with launching a successful business. Contacts are the life blood of small businesses. The old saying, “It’s not what you know, but who you know” is truer today more than ever. The fastest way to get your message out is to build a strong online network of key players in business. Set-up multiple social media channels, connect with friends and key influencers on each, and join groups. Better yet, create your own group on sites like Linkedin, Google+, and Facebook and build a strong brand through your content which will help others to see who you are and why they should work with you.