For millions of people, starting a business would be a dream come true. One survey, for example, found that 63 percent of people in their 20s either had their own business or wanted to.
So what if you want to make being an entrepreneur your long-term career path? You’ll need to have a winning business model and beat the odds. Various analysts have estimated that startups fail at a rate between 30 and 80 percent.
So what separates a successful startup from other companies that fall by the wayside? Below, we’ll discuss some of the most essential tips for startup success for any entrepreneur building a business.
What is the best advice for first-time entrepreneurs?
Your first time running a small business can be both exciting and challenging. Fortunately, your odds of success are much higher if you consider just a few tips and best practices. Below is some advice for entrepreneurs to help you build a successful startup.
- Don’t worry about taking risks: Becoming an entrepreneur is an inherently risky profession, and it’s not for everyone. Successful entrepreneurs are able to embrace and lean into this risk. They accept the possibility of failure in exchange for the chance to pursue their passions.
There’s nothing wrong with preferring the stability and peace of mind of a regular paycheck. If fear of failure is holding you back, however, then being an entrepreneur may not be the right personality fit.
- Go after your passions: Your choice of business niche should ideally be something you’re both passionate and knowledgeable about, especially for your first time as an entrepreneur. This is for multiple reasons:
- Being knowledgeable about a subject, or having prior work experience, gives you skills and connections that can help you out.
- While being an entrepreneur is still tremendously rewarding as a whole, the daily grind can be discouraging. A topic that interests you will make it easier to put in the work for your business to succeed.
- Carefully craft your business plan: Picking a field that interests you is essential for startup success — but so is having a good idea and a solid business plan. As founder and CEO of your startup, make sure that your company will actually help in solving a real problem.
Before getting too far, perform some in-depth market research about the niche you want to enter. Who are your main competitors, and what is the unique value proposition that separates you from them? Who is your target audience, and what do they look like in terms of demographics, psychographics, and spending power?
- Start thinking about money: Advice for entrepreneurs often focuses on
However, it’s never too early to consider how your business is going to raise funding, as well as your long-term profit model and cash flow. Without tracking your income and expenses, it’s all too easy to spend beyond your means and run out of money.
In particular, start preparing your presentation to prospective investors, as well as the thirty-second “elevator pitch” for your business. These should discuss factors such as:
- Your company’s mission and goals
- The problem you want to solve
- The unique products and services you offer
What advice do entrepreneurs give for starting a business?
Every successful startup founder was once a first-time entrepreneur. Reading advice from startup founders who were once in your shoes can help motivate you through difficulties and obstacles.
“By all means, develop relationships with mentors and more senior, experienced people, but also foster relationships with people just one or two steps ahead of you. Ask them the ‘stupid’ questions and the things that seem silly or small.”
Rob Hayes, partner at First Round Capital, believes that startups should focus on hiring above all else. By recruiting the right people, founders can stop spreading themselves too thin and delegate more of their tasks:
“People will come in and tell me they need to hire three customer service reps and my first thought is, ‘Why not hire someone to manage those people first?’ If you do that, you only have to focus on one awesome hire, not three.”
Étienne Mérineau, co-founder of the conversational AI platform Heyday.ai, urges startup founders to “think like a customer” by placing their audience first:
“The single condition for having a real business is to have a paying customer. If someone is willing to pay for your idea, it means your solution solves a real problem. This is why you need to think and act like a customer-first company from day one.
Test your assumptions on real clients with real needs in the real world. Don’t spend too much time strategizing, because real-world feedback will either crush your initial idea or force you to tweak it in order to be viable.”
When it comes to tech startup advice, many entrepreneurs suggest focusing on efficiency and quick, iterative improvements to get to market faster. Paul Buchheit, the creator of Gmail, encourages startup founders to look for a “90/10 solution.” In other words, can you get 90 percent of what you want, with just 10 percent of the work that you’d need for a “100 percent” solution?
How do you motivate yourself as an entrepreneur?
The advantages of being an entrepreneur are hard to deny. You can be your own boss, set your own schedule, work on what interests you, and create new job opportunities. However, this also means that entrepreneurs need to be self-starters and highly ambitious in order to run a successful business.
To stay motivated as an entrepreneur, founders should follow the below tips for startups:
- Set your own goals: When you created your business, what was your driving purpose, and what objectives did you have for yourself? Creating SMART (Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Realistic, and Timely) goals can help you understand what you should be working on next. Don’t be afraid to reward yourself with a fancy dinner or vacation upon reaching a major milestone.
- Keep learning: Running your own business is a golden opportunity to always be learning about new concepts and ideas. Expanding your horizons will help your business grow and your mind stay sharp as an entrepreneur. This may include finding hidden insights about your industry or expanding your technical skill set.
Prioritize your health: Entrepreneurs’ flexible schedule means that it’s all too easy to overwork yourself and cause burnout. Don’t neglect important health factors such as sleep, nutrition, exercise, and daily routines. Foster personal relationships by surrounding yourself with a small group of supportive people.