1. Don’t be daunted
Many entrepreneurs set themselves almost unachievable goals. While idealism and dreams are great qualities in an entrepreneur, setting unrealistic goals often means disappointment and it can also mean you will be more likely to cave in during difficult times. As Sir Richard Branson has once said “Had we tried to plan for such a future, we would certainly have messed it up.”
Instead of trying to be the next Mark Zuckerberg or Steve Jobs, be yourself and start small. Investors are always looking to invest in the right person as well as the business idea, so make sure you are genuine and true to your goals and ideas. We say, aim for the stars but be in the moment and always stay true to who you are.
2. Focus on running the business instead of raising money
You don’t necessarily need to raise money to run a successful business. There are many examples of people who started successful businesses on a shoestring budget.
Jonathan Kettle, founder of Taxi Code built a £11m revenue business without any external investment opportunities. If you grow your business organically and reinvest your own earnings, you are better able to prove yourself, which means you are in a great negotiating position for any future investments. Raising funding can sometimes feel like you won the lottery and it makes it easy to splurge however, having to spend your own money makes it easier to save and keep a healthy cash flow.
3. Sell, sell, sell
If you are not a sales person, make sure you find someone who is and have them on your team or as a co-founder. Your business idea could be the best idea in the world, but without making sales you will have nothing to show for it.
4. Don’t expect anything for free
Just because you are starting out doesn’t mean that you can expect people to help you out for free. Don’t take advantage of favours from friends and family, as this is likely to complicate things in the long run. If you want something done well you have to be prepared to pay for it. The same goes for good employees. Great employees are often cheaper in the in the long run because they deliver better results, while cheaper or less qualified employees will need more training and often make more mistakes.
The life of an entrepreneur is a busy life. However, taking the time out to network is crucial for gaining new business and even a 30 minute networking event will pay off in the long run. Make yourself visible and get the name of your business out there, even if it means stepping out of your comfort zone.
6. Be smart, but not too smart
Although you are the expert about your own business, it is impossible to know everything about running a business. Be open and invite feedback from customers or clients as well as other business people whose professional opinion you trust.
Great coaches have been instrumental to super star careers such as Michael Jordan, Kobe Bryant and other top athletes. Investing in your growth, being curious and eager to learn and improve is instrumental to success.
7. Plan ahead and evaluate
You’ve got to do the work. Get the important stuff done, create a business plan, get sales down, have a plan and stick to it. It may not be the most exciting part but a structured approach is the key to success. Make sure you evaluate on your progress.
8. Know When to Stop
Perseverance and courage are key characteristics of any successful entrepreneur, but make sure you spend your energy on the right things. Constantly knocking on doors while getting no-where and continuing to “push through” thinking that the next move will be your big break may not always be the best approach. Many business owners are entrepreneurs because they like the sound of it or because they dream about a certain lifestyle rather than because they are passionate about the actual business. Starting a business is hard work and requires an incurable passion for what you do, so if it doesn’t make you happy, it’s time to stop.
Find more of our SME growth accelerator guides here.