MY BIGGEST LESSONS LEARNED IN STARTING A BUSINESS
Brutal Self-Honesty and Self-Assessment
One of the most important questions to ask is, why do you want to start a business? This is the beginning point to understanding what type of business you want to create and how to align your values. If your goal is to earn extra money, taking on additional jobs or starting a side hustle is often what comes to mind for most people. If you want more freedom, maybe a 9-5 job is not the best suited form of work for you.
It is really important to ask yourself questions, dive deeper and get curious about what you want to do to figure out the type of business you want to start or how you want your business to grow.
What skills do you have?
What is your passion? What gets you excited to get out of bed?
What are you an expert at?
How much can you afford to spend?
What lifestyle so you want to live?
They key in these questions is to be brutally honest with your answers. These answers are going to be the foundation of what you do moving forward, what goals you set and what opportunities you take. The clearer you get on what it is you want, the easier it is to set targets and goals to start or grow your business.
In my personal experience, I am currently running and growing 2 different businesses. When I started both, I had to be really clear on what I wanted for myself, for my business and for the people who worked with me.
My why was freedom. I evaluated my skillsets; found something I was passionate about and invested everything into my goals and dreams. My goal was to create an environment where people felt welcomed and left feeling confident, I wanted to use my creativity every day and inspire others along the way. The clearer I became in what I already knew, opportunities began presenting themselves to me and my business began to unfold.
2. Know what you’re in for.
Starting a business is risky, scary, and will take you on a roller coaster ride of emotions on a regular basis. In the last few years it seems like being an entrepreneur has become the new celebrity. People seem to love to hashtag photos with #grind or #hustle. It’s cute, but not real. If you’re not ready to question your abilities and your idea every day, if you’re not ready to pivot and adjust even if it means your idea changes, if you’re not ready to change your lifestyle and re-invest everything in your business, you’re probably not ready to jump in.
If all this sounds like a challenge and not a nightmare, you may have what it takes.
3. Find mentors
Finding and building relationships with mentors is, in my opinion, the single most important factor for success. Mentors provide context, experience, and invaluable insight. A good mentor will share their experiences, tell you when you’re on the right path, and most importantly when you’re on the wrong path.
4. Develop your business idea
Do you have a business idea in mind? Or, maybe you can’t decide what you should be doing. If not, there are a ton of ways to begin brainstorming for ideas.
Start here to help you break down a potential business idea:
What is next?
What things are changing in the world? How can you figure out how these changes are going to alter the business landscape as we know it? Are you able to get ahead of the curve and find that idea and execute before someone else does?
Try fixing or creating something that is broken or not being done. People want things to make their life easier. If you are able to fix a problem or create something to make life easier for people, they will be thanking you for it.
Applying your skillset to a different business. Some businesses are stuck in the past and are not able to grasp the ever-changing world. Can you do what you are doing to help another business improve what they are already doing? A fresh perspective can open up opportunities and make all the difference in a business.
Is it better, faster and cheaper? Do you have an idea that checks all these boxes but isn’t completely new? Think about what makes you different and focus on how you can create something that is better, faster and cheaper for your consumer.
If you are still lost, go out and talk to people! Do some market research, get curious and ask for feedback or advice. There are many entrepreneurs putting out valuable content to learn from, you can research online or figure out whatever method works best for you!
5. Validate your idea
You may think you have come up with the next best thing, but until you have validated the market, you will never know how good or bad your idea actually is.
Another great question to ask is, is anyone else already doing what you are doing or want to start doing? If not, is there a reason why?
Start doing market research and a competitive analysis on what offerings or services are already available. This is a way to help you differentiate and find holes in the market.
Seek feedback and talk to others about your idea, especially people you trust. At this stage, what you want is brutally honest feedback. Entrepreneurs have a tendency to get stuck in "idea lock," when they certain their idea is a winner, regardless of what others say. If you are the only person who truly thinks the idea is good, then it is time to reassess.
If you have validated and your idea is going well, start building a brand around it right away. It’s important to react quickly in this fast moving and innovative business environment. It may be that your idea is validated today, but could potential be obsolete tomorrow. So, work efficiently and quickly.
Start small (one step at a time): All successful businesses start small. They emerge as ideas and solutions to problems. Make sure when starting out as a business to keep things simple, take it one step at a time. Make sure you don't start with a concept so complicated that it isn’t absolutely clear what problem you’re solving and who your customer is. If you can’t explain it in 3 sentences it’s not simple enough.
If you start small and make your solutions simple then you are focused, marketing your products become simpler when you've got good support when you take the next step to something bigger, but always remember to start small.
What makes you better than your competition or other substitutes that exist in the market? Why should a customer choose your service over the service of other companies? What makes you different? Once you can figure out why you're different from the rest, make it your brand message and you'll see your business grow and achieve its full potential.
7. Focus on the customer:
Having great customer service will help your business grow. Great customer service should be a company culture and embedded in your values as a company. It is important to treat your customers with respect. When you show your customers you value them, they will, in turn, make your business grow.
The most well-known example of unwavering focus on the customer experience is Amazon. Everything for Amazon starts with a focus or improvement on customer experience. It’s how you build lifetime customers and high retention rates.
These are the seven things I have learned in business. It is important to know that there is always more room for great ideas and entrepreneurs. Know that in the beginning you are going to have more failures before you start to have successes. This is all in the learning and growing process which aids in your successes later on. Most entrepreneurs have three or more failures or failed businesses before they hit one that sticks and is a major success. There is a misconception that entrepreneurs have a lightning bolt moment but that’s not the case. It’s about being disciplined and following guiding principles. The secret sauce is part of it but there is a science to developing and growing businesses. So, get out there and start putting in the work!
If you have started a business, I would love to know more about what you have learned along the way. Leave me a comment in the comment section below!