I get often asked for my top tips for new entrepreneurs. What should I know before I start? What are your top 3 tips for new entrepreneurs and startups? What would you tell anyone considering to start tomorrow?
There’s so much you can learn about entrepreneurship before actually starting your own company, but there’s even more you can learn by just doing.
In this post I share my top 5 tips for new entrepreneurs. These are tips that every entrepreneur should know and think about before they start.
Top 5 tips for new entrepreneurs
1. Be a doer, not a planner
You will need both planning and doing, but only by doing you will gain results and actually learn to deal with the entrepreneurial challenges you will face along the way.
There are two aspects on this tip: 1) actually starting the business instead of just planning for it, and 2) taking further steps instead of just planning for them.
Once you actually start working on your new business instead of just creating those social media accounts and thinking about your company’s name, it starts rolling on its own. After the first few bold steps, you become
unstoppable as you learn how to solve problems and how to focus on the important and relevant things instead of running around without knowing what to do next.
And those who dare to constantly take further steps and don’t stop, will be those whose businesses develop and grow. I have seen the importance of this (as opposed to planning) so many times. My siblings are entrepreneurs, my dad is an entrepreneur, my both grandfathers were entrepreneurs, my spouse is an entrepreneur. They’re
all doers. And once they start planning more than doing, the actual business activity decreases and becomes secondary.
As I said, you will need both. But focus on doing, not planning.
Doers versus planners×
2. Make testing a habit
How else will you know if implementing your idea is worthwhile? How else will you know how much people will pay for your product, if at all? How else will you find out what people really appreciate?
You must be testing from the very beginning of your journey. You can test whether there’s interest in your product, whether people will actually pay for the product instead of just saying they will, and you can test what features people prefer over others as well. When your business is not doing well, you have to find out why and change it. But you just don’t know what to change and how if you don’t test.
Testing will make you a champ. The world is developing faster than ever and we must too. When you
test continuously, you will learn what tests work best in different situations. Moreover, designing and setting up a test will become easier and easier after each test so that collecting data through testing will become normal for your decision making process.
Testing also allows you to fail fast. In fact, failing is not a bad but a good thing as it prevents you from wasting your time and allows you to use the learnings in your further attempts.
3. Solve someone’s problem
By solving someone’s problem I mean that you should focus on potential customers who have a problem – the more painful the better – that you can provide a solution for. You can also spot better business opportunities when you observe what problems people deal with; read more about this here.
wants and needs, and the more they want something, the more the more they pay for it. Hence, the solution will sell itself. When you solve someone’s problem, you will have to do less marketing and and less convincing, you will have happier customers because you solved their actual problem. Therefore, you will also have a more lasting business.
To know whether you are solving someone’s problem, you should 1) find out what your potential customers do and what they don’t like or what they can’t do well, and 2) whether that’s a problem that they would pay to have a solution for.
The Value Proposition Canvas will help you with this.
4. Get a partner
A partner can be anyone who is continuously involved in your business, in any way from a 50-50 split partnership to a “cheerleader”. This gives you
strength and motivation to continue at bad times, and it gives you more joy in good times. And of course it gives you more time to focus on exactly those things that you can do best while your partner does other things.
This advice doesn’t mean you can’t go solo. Of course you can. Some things are going to be easier when you’re alone, depending on your personality. For example, you can make all decisions without asking anyone’s opinion. So you might be faster. Perhaps you have a risky plan that you want to follow strictly but if you had a partner they would be against it. Or maybe you just tend to do things better by yourself.
It’s also clear that finding a good partner can be very difficult. Sometimes it comes naturally, such as when you start working on something with your best friend, an old colleague or even your spouse.
In fact, starting a business with someone is almost like
getting married with them. You will spend a lot of time together making decisions and solving problems. There will be arguments, fights and apologies, but more importantly, there will be lots of learning, more fun and probably better business.
5. Educate yourself
It’s mostly not enough if you know the parts of your product by heart and can reverse-engineer it in sleep. You might have a PhD in your area, but entrepreneurship is different in that you have to do everything yourself.
It’s the same the other way round. You might have an MBA and business background, but in entrepreneurship you will have to create everything yourself, from scratch. Depending on the industry, you will have to learn about the supply chains, regulations, customer preferences, product safety directions, possibly some data analytics, web design and what not.
Entrepreneurs fall in love with their products too easily. When this happens, it’s difficult for them to let go and adapt the product. At the same time, the world is developing faster than ever and whole new industries emerge at a pace we have never seen before. Therefore, you have to keep up with the development. Keep learning. Take an online course. Talk to some specialists in completely different fields.
As an example, you will have to deal with data and analytics, at least if you are serious about your business. You will have to know how to take care of your marketing, logistics and finances.
Artificial intelligence is everywhere nowadays and blockchain technology is said to revolutionize payment processing – they might also help you innovate your business before your competitors do so. To become more efficient and reduce your entrepreneurial risks you could study how to run A/B tests. Or you could just try to gain broader and deeper expertise in your own core area.
Although these are my top 5 tips for new entrepreneurs, there are of course further important tips that entrepreneurs should consider.
For example, it’s also recommended to have a mentor, at least when you’re starting. Moreover, you should ask for help whenever you think it could be useful, and sometimes just to get a check that everything is going well.
Also, it’s very important that you’re working only on something you’re passionate about, because when we face tough challenges and are not sure if we even like what we do, we tend to ignore those challenges or in the worst case, just quit.
Furthermore, being an entrepreneur means hard work. That’s not a myth. And finally, an entrepreneur must learn to spend less money than they earn. Hence, I would highly encourage entrepreneurs to apply bricolage whenever possible and it makes sense.
These are all useful pieces of advice. Overall, however, based on what I have seen, which is hundreds if not thousands of entrepreneurs, I’m sure my top 5 tips presented in this article can bring you far.
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