- Focus on a business idea you care about: You might be able to come up with an innovative toilet paste dispenser, but 99% of the time, if you are only in it for the “money” you are going to burn out faster than you can imagine. Entrepreneurship is long, demanding and emotional draining. You need passion to carry you through that. Make sure the business you want to run is something you can see yourself wanting to work on in your spare time. Many entrepreneurs get in to a business for the wrong reasons and that is the beginning of their business failure.
- Learn to prioritize: One of the most challenging things when you are starting out is knowing where to put your energy. Should you be out there selling? Working on product? Working on marketing? Your early customers, who you are eternally grateful for, keep giving you product feedback, “It would be amazing if you guys could…”. But the reality is you only have so much capacity. You can’t do it all at once. So, think about what truly is going to move the needle on revenue in the early days and do that. Many new entrepreneurs shift focus on a dime and it leads to poor efficiency and everything getting slowed down. You might consider outsourcing some of those admin work that sucks up time with less results, to a virtual assistant.
- Leverage the social channels you will be consistent with: In today’s age business owners are inundated with advice. You need SEO to be found! You have to have a blog that posts weekly! You need to be tweeting daily! You need to have an email newsletter! You need to be running Facebook ads… Look, a lot these approaches are important. But the reality is, if you hate writing and that is not your strength, forcing yourself to make a blog, which will probably end up being generic because you don’t like doing it, is not a great look. Maybe you like talking with people, so you should do podcast interviews. Maybe you like being behind the camera so you should make a YouTube channel. The point is, identify your strengths and focus on the things that you can build a steady following over time with. I see way too many new entrepreneurs trying to do it all or ‘half-of-all’ things they don’t care about, and it leads to being a master of none: unproductive results
- Hire the right people: It is so easy for first time entrepreneurs to muddle up this one. They hire friends, or they hire people with the same skill sets as them or they hire way too senior people who then are completely out of their element in a small start-up environment. We could go on and on, but to be concise about this, simply focus on people who are passionate about the product and mission first. Hire people who are a compatible fit. Pay people as aggressively as you can, or leverage equity, once you have the right people. High turnover for a very new start-up is a nightmare. When hiring, don’t just ask the typical everyday interview question “How do you see yourself in 5 years”. Really try to get in to how they think. Probe them about questions in relation to the company, innovation and creativity. There’s also mindset to consider, invariably, think less about what they say and more about how they think about issues.
- Don’t underestimate logistics: First time business owners almost universally underestimate the amount of time that gets eaten up on logistics. For a physical product, if you ship internationally especially, there is a mountain of work that goes into setting up that distribution network. For any business there is payroll, there is legal, there is general administration, and the list could go on and on. When you are planning out your week, you likely didn’t expect to be spending the next 2–3 days desperately trying to get someone to come out and replace your AC unit because it’s now 40°C inside and your employees are about to pass out. But that is business. Logistics come up, and you need to have plans and time set aside to address it.