I get asked all the time about tips for starting a business. Truth is, there are no shortcuts. Launching and operating a new business is all about putting in the time, taking one step further each day than the day before, and above all, being open to learning from all everything around you, including your customers.
If you are ready to take the entrepreneurial leap, here are eight quick tips for you to consider.
- First, inquire within - Remember that it's passion that builds companies, not just ideas. If you don't have the same feeling about your aspiring venture as you had the first time you fell in love, then consider waiting for the right one.
- Get to know your customers - Companies serve people. Do you know your customers' needs inside and out? Are you familiar with their pain points? Make learning about your prospective customers your top priority before taking the jump. Let your future customers "co-create" your enterprise. They'll likely be the first ones waiting when you open your doors.
- Know your market - Do you understand the lay of the land in which you will operate your business? What is your unique advantage? What's your "voice"? If there are other companies offering a similar service in your field, study them closely. As Napoleon once said, a good general has every right to fail but not the right to be unprepared.
- Hire a great attorney - I found through firsthand experience that nothing can substitute the value of a good legal advisor when launching a business. More important than just about any other team addition, a good attorney will provide the best business education you'll ever get.
- If you need to hire, hire great - A someone once told me, If you are the smartest person in the room, you are getting really bad advice. A well rounded, passionate team can overcome just about everything. There is nothing more fun than working with a group of passionate, smart people towards a common goal.
- Find a bank that loves you - Maybe an old school notion, but there is hardly a more critical relationship in the early days of a business than with one's bank. Don't go for the best known one, go for the one that loves getting your business. Their support in the early days of your company will go a long way, whether it's with a small credit line, better borrowing terms, etc.
- Yes, your local government can help - Depending on your business, you will be amazed at how many underused resources exist for new startups that are offered by local, city or federal governments. Co-working space, grants, networking events, great introductions - they are often up for grabs.
- Love people - Contrary to popular lore, business is personal. To paraphrase from Jerry Maguire, "unless you love everybody you can't sell anybody."