I’ve compiled what I think is some great advice for emerging entrepreneurs from small business and entrepreneurial experts on mosiacHUB, an entrepreneur community and resource center where entrepreneurs, service providers, mentors, and investors connect. (I’ve included links to the mosaicHUB profiles of those who contributed to the advice offered in this article.)
- Define your brand up front.
Crafting your brand–your promise to buyers with a foundation of trust– is one of the most important initial steps in jumpstarting a business. Branding is about discovering the thing deep inside you and your business that creates unique value for your customers. If you clearly and consistently brand your business, you’ll have a laser-focused understanding of your business’s values, personality and goals, and a self awareness that dictates all your actions. Over time, you will build a stronger business identity. Strong brands elicit strong emotions, opinions, and responses from your target market that contribute to the growth of your business. All good business decisions are made in alignment with the established brand. Your brand determines the position and strength of your entire marketing framework, and serves as a constant internal point of focus.
- No matter how much you think you know, you know less than you realize.
The key is to surround yourself with people who know more about things you don’t know and people who challenge your way of thinking about things you do know, then listen to both. People are the most important asset. Don’t ignore your people.
(Steve Meyer, Jim Finkelstein)
- Keep focus on the vision and stay flexible to market dynamics.
All good businesses should have an idea of where they want to be at a point in time in the future and create a plan to get there. All long journeys are made up of a path of small steps. However the plan must be followed and developed to overcome problems along the way and to identify a new path if the goal changes. Continually research your market and be open to new opportunities.
(Brian Omolo, Philip Gale, Frank Odia)
- Invest in marketing.
An average product with big marketing dollars can succeed, but the greatest of the products without sufficient marketing dollars won’t go anywhere. Marketing needs as much money as you can afford to put in. That is where people underestimate and get in trouble all the time.
- Accept that problems are a part of business.
Just accept that there will always be problems. Consider them part of your business, and deal with them as they arise. Don’t hit the panic button every time. Trust your instincts – you will now if a problem is REALLY a problem. Sometimes problems are in fact opportunities, chances to learn, etc.
- Pay full attention to your financials.
This tells a business owner what happens in their company from when the lights are turned on in the morning to when they are turned off at night. Tap into the intellectual experience in your circle to ensure you are rightsizing your expenses and paying attention to your top line. Keep your expenses as low as possible when you’re starting up. This will insure that you can last long enough to grow that seed. Once you have grown the seed into a viable business, then you can spend to grow the business. Cashflow, cashflow and cashflow—manage it daily !
(Danita Harn, Rick Tuinenburg, James Gibson)
- Be ready to be wrong. You learn more by failing than by quitting.
Entrepreneurship requires trial and error to find the best way for you to execute it. You will make bad investments, you will hire the wrong people and you will miss opportunities–it’s the nature of entrepreneurship. If you cannot accept and learn from mistakes, that will cost you money, time and worst of all, clients. Then you will not find the patience and perseverance necessary for you and your business to develop, grow and succeed. Things are probably going to get really tough at some point and you’re likely to seriously consider giving up. Carefully review the path you took to determine where you might have been better off to change directions for future reference. Learn from the mistakes, make changes and move on quickly.
(John Wolforth, Steve Meyer, Ken Helmers)
- Stop thinking like a small business owner.
Ask yourself this: “If Richard Branson didn’t have a dime, and had to build his fortune back from where I am now, would he be doing what I am doing?” The answer is invariably, “No!” So, what would he do? Fine tune the model and make it work as a pilot. Keep the pilot low cost, and be close to the customer to achieve valuable feedback. Once the pilot is successful, rapidly scale.
- Dress for the part.
Far too many budding entrepreneurs think that being an entrepreneur means fulfilling the image of showing up to important meetings wearing a golf shirt. Having the right image not only impresses others favorably, but it creates a strong impression on YOUR mind and gives you a feeling and persona of power you can’t get otherwise.
Are there any other pieces of critical advice that you would like to add to the list to offer to emerging entrepreneurs? What are your thoughts on the bits of advice provided above?