Entrepreneurs usually start off with an idea, they develop that idea, prove its worth and then stall as they haven’t thought further ahead than the idea itself.
Once you have something to sell you need to apply it appropriately and have a business plan in place. Even if you are not quite ready to release something, you need to plan for when you are ready. To ease the pressure of doing it all at once here are some tips for young entrepreneurs.
Identify your Desire
Do you just want to make money, even if you don’t enjoy how you make it? Or would you prefer to make it doing something you love?
I think most people would choose the latter option, after all this is the start of your journey and the journey will impact the rest of your life.
Whatever idea or product you have developed, try and make it fit into the niche of what you love doing. Studies have shown that when you are working on or with something you love, you are more successful as you will wholeheartedly believe in it.
Believe in Yourself and Take the Risk
Some would argue that if you believe in yourself then there is no risk to take. However, the human psyche works in mysterious ways and taking the leap from a ‘safe’ job to becoming a business owner is a huge step, even when you are 100% invested in your idea. You are young, that job will still be there if you need it – but time for your idea may not be.
Understand your Market
The main reason for any business failure (especially new business) is due to the business not understanding their market.
You MUST meticulously research your target audience before any launch. By doing this you will gain the knowledge required to identify key characteristics in that field which appeal to that specific market.
Get your Finances in Order
You cannot always rely on investors, even when they have committed. There will always be unforeseen costs and if they are not covered by the investors you will need to cover them.
Build yourself a credit rating. Start young, while you are still studying. Look into business loans before you need one.
Get a Mentor
If you’ve never run a business before there are going to be many hurdles you didn’t expect. One way of being ahead of that game is to find yourself a business mentor. They will already know of the pitfalls and hold-ups you may encounter and will have lived through them and come out the other side.
Plan, Plan and Plan
To be successful you must have the ability to plan ahead. Set realistic targets and use a timeline to plot your intended growth. Not only does this show forethought to potential investors, but it also keeps you focused on the end game.
Perfect your Pitch
Everyone knows that YOU believe in your business, you need to make THEM believe it too. You get about 90 seconds to captivate an audience in a sales pitch to them…after that they can drift away if you haven’t caught their attention. To them, it’s about fitting into their existing business, so don’t make the pitch about you, make it about them and what you can do to enhance their business.
A creative (which is what most entrepreneurs are) can get carried away with the idea. However, once the idea has hatched and is out there they expect immediate recognition. This does not happen.
You need to be patient and continue to develop and perfect your idea. You need to be dedicated and committed with the end goal in sight. There will be sacrifices on your time (and money), but keep in mind that it will all be worth it in the end. Rome wasn’t built in a day.
Create a Strong Team
Find people who are as impassioned as you are about your idea. Loyal and hardworking are two key attributes for successful teams. If you agree with a person’s ethics and like their character you can train them up on the rest, whereas a knowledgeable person with a bad attitude is not so easy to work with.
Get Client Input
Whatever it is you are selling; you have to get customer input from the beginning…and throughout the life of the business. It is important to know whether you are fulfilling the needs of the client and whether there are any enhancements that could make life easier for them. By being focused in this way, you are showing you care and learning from them at the same time as getting paid.
Gain Knowledge from Errors
You ARE going to make mistakes. Of course, it would be easier if these mistakes were picked up before the business is rolled out – and many of them will, but not all. The important thing is to learn from the mistakes and improve your offering because of them.
Treat Complaints as Constructive
Some Clients will always find something to complain about. But they ARE customers. Their comments should always be treated as integral to the business. If they are being vocal about something, they are telling you the problem and you can fix it, or find a way around it – or simply gain more insight into the way they work, helping you to customize your offerings accordingly.
Have Knowledge of your Customers
Once a business has subscribed to your product don’t just leave them on the shelf. Keep in touch. Find out what is happening within their organization or their life. This goes a long way to ensuring they maintain your services. If their requirements change, they are more likely to come to you for adaptations than choose someone new.
Sometimes, getting the business in the first place can be easier than keeping it in the future.
In order for you to keep an interest in your business, you must keep challenging yourself. If you don’t, you will become complacent and your offering will become outdated.
Network before even starting to develop your idea, network whilst developing, network after development, continue networking throughout the life of the business. How do you know what the prospective client wants if you are not talking to them?
If you have something unique to offer, or an in-demand service, what have you got to lose? If you don’t do it while you are young, you will probably never do it as life and increasing responsibilities creep up on you.