There’s no shortage of advice available to small business entrepreneurs. From startup suggestions to growth strategies, well-meaning prognostication generates countless tips aimed at would-be founders and established owners. Unfortunately, many of the offerings are recycled again and again, diluting the messages each time they’re shared.
If you’re a budding entrepreneur seeking a fresh perspective, you may wish to consider a group of tips put forth by Forbes contributor, Mike Kappel. His fresh insight covers concerns above and beyond the repetitive tips and tactics you’ve probably already heard – more than once.
As you digest Kappel’s and others’ suggestions, it’s important to remember each small business venture is unique; it falls on you to refine an approach suiting your upstart business needs. Particulars aside, applying these bits of wisdom may help propel your entrepreneurial aspirations in the right direction.
Start by Overcoming Excuses
Sitting on the sidelines is not the way to launch a small business. Too often, would-be business owners take themselves out of the game with negative pretexts, before it has even started. In practice, making excuses is antithetical to small business success, regardless of their origins or validity. If you’re prone to justifying inaction with a host of preventative excuses, you may not have the mettle to compete as an entrepreneur – at least not until you’ve purged the tendency.
Whether it’s time, money, personal distractions, existing obligations, or just plain worry holding you back; your small business momentum is stuck in neutral, until you find solutions to the concerns slowing your progress. If you can’t address issues during the startup phase, you’re in for hard times ahead, because running a business will continue testing your ability to solve problems and overcome challenges. Excuses won’t ever cut it.
Strive for Simplicity
Motivation is an essential ingredient driving small business success, but taking an overly ambitious approach can actually work against you. Complicating the startup sequence not only adds expenses that can interfere with your business budget, but it can also lead you too far astray from your original business concept. In a worst case scenario, you may lose sight of the product or service that initially sparked your vision, resulting in market-ready offerings no one wants to buy.
Rather than muddy the waters with complex roll outs, effective startups begin small, focusing on simple, high-quality products. By first delivering on core concepts, you’ll earn attention for things you’re good at, before expanding your product line or taking-on new territories. At the same time, restraining your operational obligations enables a lean launch, reserving resources for future growth and expansion. You can always put in amenities and additional product features later, but you don’t want to cloud your core competencies by adding unnecessary embellishments early on.
Add it Up
Relying on approximations is a critical error – one small business entrepreneurs should avoid at all costs. It’s not as though you can nail down sales figures before closing deals, but you can and must account for all the spending required to get you to the table.
Before taking significant steps toward a business launch, add up all the anticipated costs associated with the venture. Your list should include expenses such as:
- Rent or purchase payments for your physical locations
- Costs of forming a business entity
- Licensing and certification
- Human resources
- Product development
This partial list doesn’t come close to covering the general expenses businesses encounter. And your venture will have a unique set of spending concerns, above and beyond the basics. You must find funding sufficient to cover all the costs, before you start spending money. Failing to follow this sequence can leave you unprepared when bills start coming in.
In his Forbes piece, author, Kappel, suggests quadrupling your total anticipated expenses, in order to arrive at a realistic spending scenario. The suggestion underscores how unforeseen costs of doing business can impact new ventures, and the importance of due diligence, crunching numbers. He also recommends taking a close look at your personal finances, which may be impacted during a lean launch phase. Identifying and prioritizing personal spending needs can help you determine which financial obligations can be deferred, and how long you can tread water, before sinking under the strain of inconsistent startup income.
Spread the Word
The minute you commit to starting a business, you should become your venture’s most vocal advocate. Though owning a business may represent unfamiliar territory, the role of founder calls for outspoken enthusiasm, as a central job requirement. A timid approach is sure to generate lackluster results, and it isn’t enough to simply share your concept with the world; at some point in the evolution of your enterprise you must also start selling.
If you’re uncomfortable, shy, or otherwise reluctant to tout your business, start with friends and family, before moving on to venues offering greater exposure. Civic groups and other local entities are good places from which to generate interest, as well as social organizations related to your niche.
Launching an accounting business? Connect with business associations and trade district organizations active in your area. Does your new business support a particular commercial sector? Seek out membership organizations in the relevant niche and offer to speak at their meetings. Starting a retail sporting goods store? Address your products to running clubs, fitness groups, and other organizations needing our products.
The sequence required to get your small business off the ground calls for focus and discipline. Adopting these strategies can help you build momentum and avoid a few common startup mistakes.