Updated: May 2
I asked fellow small business owners and entrepreneurs of all kinds a question:
What is your golden nugget of advice to someone just starting their business?
Well, the tips for new business owners and budding entrepreneurs that came from this simple question were plentiful. Below you'll find the list of advice, in no particular order. There are some common themes, important lessons and some inspiring insights that will surely guide you as you start your business.
Here is the best advice for new small business owners:
Invest in yourself first.
Consistency is the only currency that matters.
Progress over perfection.
Listen to your heart and your gut more than advice from others. Learn every chance you get. And just keep going for you, your way. No one else walks in your shoes, so walk/run/kick/stomp/dance YOUR way.
Educate yourself on every aspect of your business and don't be afraid to ask experts ... for advice. Also grow a thick skin. There are a lot of nasty people out there. Oh and contracts, deposits and contracts.
Go Live! Get out there. People do want to see your face and trust your words!
You need to spend money to make money. Just go for it if you truly believe in your idea/concept.
Expect your initial vision to change... constantly!
Stop fiddling with your website and start talking to prospective customers.
Understand your why (clearly) and it is always about the client journey.
Get to know your audience/community. It's key, their trust in you will make or break you
Find a good accountant and tax consultant as soon as possible without waiting till year end.
Do the paperwork.
Know your numbers.
Have a business plan, network like crazy, have a good support system, try to minimize expenses and engage a coach or mentor.
Make sure you join the Chamber of Commerce or Board of Trade in your community
Be consistent and build relationship with your customers.
Just go for it! Have a plan & know your numbers. Utilize resources available to you.
Conversations lead to cash flow.
Build relationships, find a mentor & get the word out including networking and getting your friends to share your website/social media on their profiles
Good business plan. Plan for what happens if sales are nowhere near what you forecasted, keep expenses SUPER low. Used EVERYTHING.
Make and write your Goals: 3 months, 6 months, 1 year & 5 years.. and keep visiting them... update, improvise or simply change it. But have a written business plan that you can go back & see what did you want & how do you plan to achieve it.
Keep learning your craft. Be honest.
Evolve, don't quit.
It’s okay to say no to projects that do not serve your greater business goals. Although, good sometimes they don’t align with your long term plans. It’s alright to say thank you but no thank you.
Do your research and don't rely on just people's opinions. Google reviews on the events, talk to many different vendors. What works for one person doesn't necessarily work for the next person. Know your audience and find them.
That's it's okay make money. I felt bad making money for a bit. Also to use Profit First from the start and to invest in business coaching or a mastermind group.
Have a business plan. Research all your costs and be prepared that it may take awhile to make money. Some are lucky enough to start earning right away, but it can take days, weeks to months to make consistent sales. Be firm on your pricing. Nothing looks worse than having fluctuations in pricing when one is nervous that they are not making money and then they drop their prices. Do your due diligence in learning who your customers will be. Sit down and think of the words that describe your business, who is your target audience, where they are located, what ages they are.
Good luck and don’t fuck it up.
Gotta spend it to make it.
Don't buy everything you think you will need. What you need may change and it will become evident over time. Sometimes too much stocking up is not a good thing.
Create 4 bank accounts from the get-go!! You can decide which percentages work for you (mine are posted below). I pay myself the exact same amount every two weeks no matter how much money I have in my income account. and every year I have given myself a raise. Profit (2%) Income (60%) Expenses (18%) Taxes (20%)
Ask advice, but ultimately trust your intuition. There's so much out there that can convince you what you're doing isn't going to work, to go left when you feel like going right would be better. Nobody else has your exact vision and expertise.
Trust your gut. Let yourself make mistakes. do things that make you feel good.
Don't do business with friends. And, watch your back with people who overpromise.
Done is better than perfect - get out there and show your talents.
Almost all mistakes can be corrected so make decisive decisions relatively quickly - action is better than overanalyzing and indecision
Once you determine your client getting recipe, rinse and repeat!
Don’t skimp on lawyer & accountant fees! Setting your business right from the start and being prepared for all possible scenarios will save you more money in the long run. Also, invest into coaching, mentorship, and/or peer business support groups. They are worth every penny (assuming you pick those you feel are the right fit for you and your business) !
Watch out for shiny object syndrome. Work on creating an offer that truly solves a problem and sell the crap out it. You don’t need a fancy logo, fancy website, etc to find clients.
Do your market research, get to know your competitors and replicate the good and tweak the bad. Devise a 1-5-10 year strategy for growth even if and depending on your business and your product it could take 1-5 years to really find your footing. Don’t give up, hustle when you need to and take breaks as often as possible. Find support, and make as many friends in your industry as possible. Support your competitors, be kind to yourself and those around you and and most importantly, be consistent.
Don’t take advice from everyone… people are full of it. It will be contradictory too. Keep your buyers prospective in mind, always.
Work your network! When I went out on my own and posted on LinkedIn what I was doing I couldn't believe the number of people that reached out with work opportunities!
You can be successful without subscribing to hustle culture.
Know your value and charge accordingly. Compensation is not a motivator but lack of it is a de-motivator.
Absolutely do your bookkeeping data entry monthly or at the very least quarterly. Or you'll be absolutely miserable come tax time. Create a dedicated spreadsheet with the self employment write offs you will be entering from the get go. ( Or use quick books) but do NOT wait until tax season to get this stuff organized.
Protect yourself by creating disclaimers and clauses signed by clients. Have a legal backup plan in case if you have to fight for your rights or money people own.
Don't waste your savings or any money on anything like a logo or website before you have figured out how to sell. Start with figuring out what your ideal clients most need from you, and how you can package it up so that buying it is a "no brainer" for them. Then use your knowledge of their language used to describe their problems and your solutions to inform creating all your branding and communications.
Really need a solid plan in terms of business goals and financial spending for the coming year, breaking it down to Q1-4. Be smart about what counts as investment vs cost This will help keep you a bit of sanity!
Be patient. And believe in yourself. You have to plant the seed and tend it lovingly for a while before you see the growth but it is growing, under the ground the whole time. Just keep tending it, water it, turn the soil, pull the weeds and gradually you will reap the rewards.
Make friends first. My business was built on making genuine relationships with other business owners, and many of those turned into my first clients! Making (and staying) friends first is a guiding principle of how I attract new clients even today!
A special, heartfelt thanks to the members of the various Facebook groups who participated in the making of this list of advice for aspiring entrepreneurs. Your insights and experience will help those following in your footsteps!