Business Plan
The best business owners are endlessly curious and filled with zeal, so never stop learning and never stop creating.

My, oh my how things have changed for first-time entrepreneurs in today’s flourishing startup community. When I grew up, it was less about doing what you wanted to do and more about doing what was expected of you. Starting up a business from scratch with no experience was a recipe for disaster. But times have changed.

Today, the mobile app economy and a lower barrier to entry have come together in a wonderful way to make entrepreneurship a much more attainable aspiration. When the recession hit in the mid-2000’s and jobs were scarce, self-starters thought to themselves, “If I don’t have a job waiting for me, I might as well create one.” And create they did.

But what does it take to enter the world of entrepreneurship in 2015? There is a lot of risk involved for newcomers, and a recorded 90 percent of startups fail in their first year. What’s the number one reason for this? Arguably, it’s the lack of a market need for the product that is being offered. Every entrepreneur takes a risk when they launch their business, but first-time entrepreneurs often neglect how much time is needed to understand their market and the need for their product or service. Other risks involve finding the right people and creating the right culture—all while sharpening the brand’s message. So, what does an entrepreneur who is fresh to the business world need to know?

My first piece of advice would be to learn; learn a lot, learn fast, learn frequently and learn on the move. 87 percent of millennials have their phones at their side, and as an entrepreneur who is always connected to your business I’m counting on yours being right next to you, too. The increase in mobile device usage has dramatically altered the way we absorb information, so make sure you’re taking full advantage of the opportunity to tackle the learning curve of being a first timer by accessing information wherever you are. Listen to podcasts from other business leaders, reach out to influencers on your social media apps and manage projects, contacts or notes from one screen. According to a Cisco report, 50 billion devices are expected to be connected to the IoT by 2020, so continuously learning how to use and integrate modern technology into your growing business will benefit you down the road.

You’ll also want to make connections, leverage connections and use the right connection lingo. There are some excellent mobile applications that allow you to get involved with networking events near you or follow-up with connections you’ve made recently. Many people are still using business cards, but have you considered using social media instead? Make an instant connection with LinkedIn instead of waiting to write down their email or misplacing their card. Tweet at the people you’ve met and really foster your relationships with conversations. Ask open ended questions and be confident. After all, you had enough confidence to strike out on your own and start a business, so use that strength to your advantage.

Being a first-time business owner in 2015 means getting out there, taking risks and making things happen. One thing you need to understand is that, though there are a wealth of technologies out there, it all starts with the people. There will be people who become employees, people who become advocates and people who become mentors and competitors. Utilizing connections—as I mentioned—is important, so make sure the reputation of your startup is properly managed as your business grows and changes by offering consistent information and delivering on your brand promise. Also, as the amount of data rises, it will be necessary to track and analyze it. Maybe the startup turns into a small business that grows into an enterprise with global offices (isn’t that a nice thought?). That will make metric tracking trickier, so start collecting and utilizing data early.

We are also transitioning into a community that fosters and encourages startup culture, which is much different from the past and more conducive to those trying their hand at entrepreneurial endeavors for the first time. We have replaced the term “rejection,” with the much more positive “experience.” We don’t celebrate rock star CEOs; we become inspired by those individuals who are born from nothing and create with everything. Jack Welch once said, “Control your own destiny or someone else will,” and I think that’s an essential part of today’s entrepreneur.

One last word of advice—entrepreneurs need to stay eager and foolish. The best business owners are endlessly curious and filled with zeal, so never stop learning and never stop creating.