When you’re starting a business it can be difficult to keep track of everything that needs to be done. It is not uncommon for tasks to slip under the radar, but it is important to remember some aspects will and to do your best to stay on top of it all.
So, here’s a quick look at five essential things to remember along your entrepreneurship path:
You will never have all of the answers.
As savvy and confident as you may be, you can’t possibly know everything there is to know about starting a business. Admitting this is an important reality to address early on in the establishment of your business. You are going to need help, and luckily, there are plenty of other bright minds out there that you can hire and partner with to cover all of your bases.
Some will share your level of experience, but perhaps they are specialists in a field you are not too familiar with, while others will be seasoned veterans with entrepreneurial strategies that are nearly scientific. Meanwhile, soak in all kinds of advice, tips, and warnings. If you are looking for a good mentor, as entrepreneur Neil Patel explains, “Finding a mentor can be a difficult thing to do.”
So, be sure to organize your thoughts and key questions on areas that are unclear so you’ll know precisely what to ask when you come across knowledgeable individuals. Remember, success is your main aim, not proving you know how it all works. Therefore, exhibit humility as you take in information, as well as constructive criticism.
Customer needs are your most important priority.
It’s not the same as the notion of “customers always being right” – which is somewhat of a myth that is not always true. It is more a matter of directing company goals toward what your potential customers will benefit from the most. Building a successful business entails giving customers what they need, not what you want to sell.
Determine customer needs by reading up on your industry, talking to experienced entrepreneurs, as I mentioned above, and engaging with informal polls, surveys and social media interaction. Then listen closely to keep them coming back, while encouraging referrals and spreading the word through social media. All of these things are advantages you can’t afford to miss out on.
Networking is crucial.
Successful networking is three-fold. It includes networking with customers, interacting with experienced and seasoned entrepreneurs, and engaging with other entrepreneurs. People in other industry-related companies within are not your enemies. As entrepreneur Jill Broder explains, “A successful small business benefits from interacting with others in its field. ‘Be friends with other people in your industry … always stay in touch; don’t think of them as competition — think of them as another resource.’”
In fact, networking with industry peers is a great opportunity to learn more about your industry. And even if you see they are making a mistake, or that their advice is nebulous (and not likely to work), you can always use these experiences to remind yourself of what not to do. Meanwhile, when applicable, attend expos, conventions, etc. Remain open to sharing your knowledge and accepting the expertise of others. However, keep in mind that if you spend too much time networking then you’ll have plenty of contacts, but not enough focus for them to want to help you or collaborate at some point. Keep lines of communication, but strike a healthy balance between networking and chiseling away at your own business.
Focus on the now.
You can develop all kinds of ideas for new products, services, and future ventures, but if you spend too much time speculating and imagining then very little is done in the present. And according to entrepreneur Michael Lazerow, this is the number one mistake entrepreneurs make. No one doubts your ideas are excellent (and have potential), but you have to learn to take note of them, prioritize, and stay focused on what really needs to get done.
If you lose focus on what needs to happen now, then your whole venture could fall apart; while you end up spending too much money, hiring the wrong people, and causing yourself unnecessary stress. If you want your dream to reach its full potential, stay focused on the aspects that will make it successful, even when they are tedious and uninteresting to you. Entrepreneurship isn’t all fun and games; it takes a lot of hard work to get a business off the ground. While you will definitely have time to bring other ideas to life later on, your time to prove to people that your business is important is limited. So get out there and show them that your ideas work.
Don’t forget to take some leisure time.
The old proverb “all work and no play makes Jack a dull boy” really applies to business. It’s good to dive deep into your work and be as productive as possible, but if you don’t take time to unwind and let go of the stress of entrepreneurship it will cause startup burnout.
So, make a schedule and stick to it — either by planning a week-long vacation, not working on weekends, or taking a few hours every day to do something else (i.e., exercise, yoga, family time, or indulging in your favorite hobbies). The brain is powerful and capable of so many exciting things, but it’s also very easy to get mentally burned out. And being burned out isn’t good for your business, employees, or customers. If you’re relaxed and fulfilled, then everything else will fall into place, while your workflow will be much smoother and more enjoyable along the way.
This article has been edited and condensed.
Simon Crompton is a freelance journalist and entrepreneur, who spends the majority of his time blogging about business startups and consulting on web development. He has launched multiple online companies. He is also a dedicated follower of fashion, and has written for the Financial Times and GQ. Connect with @PermanentStle on Twitter.
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