As any entrepreneur will tell you, taking the first step to start your own business can be a very big decision. If you want to succeed, it takes a lot of time and planning, plenty of patience, and a huge amount of determination. A good idea helps, too, of course.
But how do you set yourself up for success? We walk you through ten tips to help you make your first million. Or should that be billion?
Start with a business plan
Most entrepreneurs are overflowing with creative business ideas but can be so eager to get started that they rush ahead without any real plan. While this spur-of-the-moment decision making can feel spontaneous and exciting, it is often to the detriment of actual business success.
Creating a business plan is a great way to set the foundations for your company. So get ready to do a lot of the legwork before you even start making any money.
Having a business plan is one of the best ways to ensure you have the funding and the tools you need to keep your business on track for the long-term.
Simply writing out a business plan helps you clarify the vision for your business and allows you to plan for the future – and gives you the time to think and consider whether your business idea is realistic and, if it is, how you make it a reality.
Your team needs to see you as confident
Be a confident leader
Entrepreneurs are leaders. They are visionaries. “As a leader one of the things that’s most important is to know your team needs to see you as confident,” says Steve Kerr, Golden State Warriors coach.
But for some, the thought of leadership can be a daunting one. Entrepreneurs often put a lot of pressure on themselves to always know the answers. We can tell you now, that being a successful entrepreneur isn’t about having all the right answers, it’s about knowing where to find the answers.
Starting a business means plenty of tough decisions. So, whether or not you know the answers, it’s important you have the confidence to make the decisions needed to make your business a success.
Hire people that know more than you
One of the best pieces of advice we can give is to hire a team of people that know more than you do. As the old adage goes, “If you are the smartest person in the room, you are in the wrong room”. If you want your company to grow beyond just what you can offer, it’s imperative you add people to your team with different skill sets who can help set you up for success.
After all, your business isn’t all about you – it’s about providing something of value to your customers. And if you want customers that turn into repeat customers, you need a team around you that pushes you to learn more, take calculated risks, and grow your business to its full potential.
Find a great mentor
As an entrepreneur, you should always be learning and bettering your skills. Having a mentor is a great way to do this. Whatever business you are starting, consider asking a friend, family member, or previous colleague you trust and respect to offer some guidance.
A mentor is a great way to learn the ins and outs of running a business from someone who has been there before. Other benefits of working with a mentor include: professional and personal development; exposure to new ways of thinking and methods for efficient execution; being accountable; having a clearly defined roadmap to success; and expanding your professional network.
You can also receive invaluable advice that you otherwise might not receive. The best entrepreneurs learn from the experiences of others so they can do things better and avoid some of the common pitfalls of running a business.
Consider your business location
If your business is going to be run from a physical location, it’s important to consider where this might be. Take some time to think about any facilities you may need, the amount of space you require, whether you need parking, or how the geographical location may affect customer up-take.
Business location can have a big impact on the success of a business. For example, if you start a coffee shop on the Isle of Skye, you’re far less likely to get 100 customers through your door in a day than if you started a coffee shop on a London high street. See what we mean?
Being customer-focused allows you to be more pioneering
Flexibility and persistence are key
In order to succeed, you will need to be flexible but persistent. As an entrepreneur, it is your responsibility to adapt to keep learning and adapt to any industry updates or changes. At the same time, you should also be persistent to ensure business success.
The most successful entrepreneurs are flexible to the needs of their clients and although keeping up with the competitors in their industry is important, a customer-first approach will benefit a company in the long run.
In an interview with Jeff Bezos, CEO of Amazon, on Leadership, Bezos credits customer obsession as being one of Amazon's core values. "The first and by far the most important one is customer obsession as opposed to competitor obsession. I have seen over and over again companies talk about being customer-focused, but really when I pay close attention to them I believe they are competitor focused, and it's a completely different mentality," Bezos says. "If you're competitor-focused, you have to wait until there is a competitor doing something. Being customer-focused allows you to be more pioneering."
Execution, execution, execution
It doesn’t matter how brilliant you think your business idea is – it’s more than likely somebody else is trying to do the same thing you are. Success doesn’t always come from innovative breakthroughs but from flawless well-thought-out execution. No matter how complex your business idea is, executing it flawlessly can mean the difference between success or failure.
No matter how much time you spend building your business plan, there will be changes you need to execute as time passes. And the more flawlessly you can do this, the better.
Always be honest and show integrity
For any entrepreneur, honesty and integrity should always be a priority. Leading your business with integrity and honesty won’t just set you up for success, it will also recommend you to your clients.
If you find there are conversations you’re having where you are starting to twist the truth or you are drifting from the path of integrity, it may not be the right option for you. No matter how big your clients are or how fierce the competition is, people value honesty and integrity. And while it might take a little time, growing your business in this way will recommend you to everyone you meet.
Show your gratitude by giving back
Whether you win your first big client or serve the first 20 customers that come through your door, the feeling of success is an exciting one. But as the pressures of running a business can start to take over, that feeling can quickly become lost.
That’s why it’s so important to always show your gratitude to both your customers and clients by giving back when you can. Always think of how you can thank your customers or give back to your community or the environment. As a business owner, it should be your priority to do “good”.
When Gary Vaynerchuk, serial entrepreneur and CEO VaynerMedia, was asked in an interview, “When Gary Vaynerchuk retires or goes off in the sunset, what do you want to be remembered for?”
Vaynerchuck replied with: “That I gave more than I took. I really want to be remembered for that."
Build a strong and reliable support system
Starting a business is a huge undertaking and one that can have stressful moments. There will be times when you feel so bogged down by your workload or so overwhelmed by the demands of your clients that seeing the light at the end of the tunnel can be challenging.
Some of the most successful entrepreneurs in the world could not have made it to where they are now without the support systems they have in place. Whether it be close friends, family members, or mentors, having a dedicated support system that you can reach out to for support and encouragement when you need it is one of the most invaluable tools to starting a successful business.