Deciding to put your money where your mouth is can be daunting at the best of times but when you're considering life as an entrepreneur, it can be even more so. That's why we've put together our top 10 tips for aspiring entrepreneurs.
1. Get started
The difference between an entrepreneur and a would-be entrepreneur is daring. In lots of ways, becoming an entrepreneur and starting out on your own is a scary proposition but it doesn’t have to be so 'either/or'. Lots of successful entrepreneurs started their own business whilst working another job to pay the bills. There’s no shame in starting slowly. Just start.
2. Admit you don’t know
When you’re first starting out, it may be tempting to pretend you know everything. There’ll always be an element of ‘fake it ‘til you make it’ when it comes to things like confidence but when it comes down to knowledge that’ll help you make the most of your business, you need to know for sure. Good entrepreneurs have enquiring minds and they never stop learning or asking questions. You’ll be amazed by how many people hide behind jargon to make something sound more complicated than it actually is.
3. Keep things simple
Once you know the jargon, it’s easy to forget that other people may not. Communicating in jargon works well in specialised environments and can earn you professional respect but you better be really sure that you know what you’re talking about. Misusing jargon can lead to confusion, frustration and costly mistakes. If in doubt, keep it simple. Don’t forget that even the most senior, influential people may be nodding their heads throughout your entire pitch whilst thinking that they could really do with a Google translation of what you’re saying.
4. Get a mentor
Learning from other people’s mistakes stops you making them for yourself and helps your business grow more quickly. Attend networking events and join online communities to identify your ideal mentor and then simply ask them. Don’t take it badly if the first mentor you approach isn’t able to help and don’t hound them under the misguided belief that you’ll eventually wear them down. A mentor has to want to help you and most entrepreneurs will help you if they possibly can. If they can’t, chances are they’re busy running their own business – something you as a fellow entrepreneur can appreciate.
5. Grow your network
Learning and inspiration doesn’t simply come from mentors. Some of your best learnings may come about by chatting honestly to other entrepreneurs at the same stage of business as you. As long as they’re not a competitor, they’re likely to be willing to share what they’ve already learnt and you should be prepared to share too. Networking is mutually beneficial – whenever you take business advice, make sure you give back too.
6. Opt for opportunities
Successful entrepreneurs make the most of every opportunity but they don’t just sit back and wait for them to come to them. Keep your eyes peeled and be prepared to act now. That means having a clear description of your business readily to hand, a website up and running and not putting off applying for funding or entering competitions because you’re too busy or too tired. Other entrepreneurs will be too but by making the most of opportunities you also create your own luck.
7. Hear honest feedback
Some people are jealous of entrepreneurs. They’ll resent the fact that you’re daring to be different and will only focus on the fact that you don’t have to travel into an office – ignoring the long hours and persistence it takes to make it as an entrepreneur. We’re not suggesting you ask those people for advice but that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t listen to anyone. Hearing honest feedback and, more importantly, acting on it is essential if you want to make your business the best it can possibly be. You know the saying, ‘Don’t ask a question unless you want to hear an honest answer’? Well, that’s doubly true for entrepreneurs. Everyone will have an opinion on your business and sometimes it can be tempting to ignore everyone. Don’t. Ask the people you respect for advice and listen to them.
8. Love each customer
At the beginning of your entrepreneurial journey, you’ll be anxious to get your first customer. The rush of gratitude and excitement you’ll have when you do is one of the most memorable moments in the life of an entrepreneur. At the time you’ll think that you’ll never forget it. Over time, however, it’s easy to become complacent and take your customers for granted. The most successful entrepreneurs never stop being grateful. They know that people have lots of options when it comes to deciding where to spend their money and they’re always grateful that they’re spending it with their customers. Thank your customers whenever possible and reward their loyalty – from discounts to special sale previews and seasonal gifts…what may seem like a simple gesture to you can mean a lot.
9. Lead – let others follow
You’ve done the hard part. People are enthusiastic about your idea and the orders are rolling in. Surely it’s about time you got to kick back and take a well-earned break? Wrong. Successful entrepreneurs are always looking to break new ground. They never forget that if they’ve appeared out of nowhere and created a successful business, a competitor could do the same. Who cares if someone’s copying their idea – they’re already onto the next thing.
10. Hustle hard
There’s no getting around this one. If you want to be a successful entrepreneur, you’d better be prepared to work. Hard.