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7 Tips for First Time Entrepreneurs

There’s likely nothing more exciting out there in the world than discovering that you have an innovative business concept in your own hands. While the life of an entrepreneur can be exciting and rewarding in all of its challenges, it’s a path riddled with uncertainty, financial struggles, and nerve-wracking business decisions. In short, it’s not a position for just any average Joe to take on. There will never be a time in which an entrepreneur can sit back and watch the financial, legal and marketing aspects of their business flourish on their own.

For the entrepreneur hoping to navigate the choppy waters of the startup world, here are seven tips to start:

Know Your Business, Like Your Business

Getting your startup off of the ground will be an ever-arduous uphill battle. You’ll be faced with financial difficulties, challenges you didn’t think you’d sign up for and particulars you don’t care about. As such, before you take the steps to getting the wheels of your project in motion, make sure your startup is something that you’re actually excited, motivated, and informed about. Get into a business whose industry you already have experience in. Remember, every field has a learning curve. A lack of knowledge in yours could be one of your greatest roadblocks.

Go for a Business Idea with Visible Market Opportunity

Before you start signing office leases and buying equipment, ensure that there is an actual market for the product or services your startup will provide. Most investors will only back a project that has market potential and a visible prospective for significant growth. You’ll want to make sure that you hit all of these marks before ever setting an idea in front of a financier.

Rake in As Many Funds as Possible

By now you might have come up with a schedule and timeline that accounts for how long it will take to raise startup financing. It’s an important step to take, but don’t be surprised if you find that raising funds takes longer and is harder than you initially anticipated. Start by ensuring that you have a cushion that can hold up against all of the product development and marketing expenses that you will inevitably incur. In an ideal situation, you’ll raise enough capital to break even.

Be on Top of Your Finances

The major downfall for most businesses and startups typically comes at the hands of entrepreneurs who were unable to keep up with a solid budget plan. Avoid having to fold your project and stay on top of the expenses, income as well as the tight budget of your startup. Live on a shoestring budget and make sure to avoid any expenses that aren’t pertinent.

Know About Your Competition

Think you have a product that is so unique to your market that there couldn’t possibly be anything out there that could compete with it? You’re wrong. Today’s marketplace is overcrowded with new entrepreneurs and their new ideas. In order to succeed in your market, you have to make yourself aware of your competitors. Start by doing as much research as possible on competitive products and services. You should always be the first to know about their new development and upgrades. Set up a Google Alert to stay in the loop of any new information about your competitors that gets published online.

Talk to Other Entrepreneurs

Entrepreneurs, lawyers, and accounts will be your most valuable colors in your crayon box when it comes to receiving business advice and direction. Gathering a group of mentors to counsel you on hiring practices, product development, legal issues, and marketing will be key to the success of your startup. As you continue to build your network, consider developing an advisory board for your new business with members who will be able to provide you with information and guidance as you steer your startup ship. Don’t shy away from motivating associates to come on board by offering them some stock options or company equity.

Have A Strong Elevator Pitch

Having a succinct and engrossing story about your startup, what it does and the problem it looks to solve is crucial. Prepare a pitch for potential clients and investors that you might come across in “elevator scenarios”— ones where you might not have much time to explain your business and that will allow you to get straight to the point. Keep this down to 30 seconds, mostly because even on the off chance that you do find yourself on an international flight seated next to Richard Branson, you’re not going to want to waste his time. Outline the goals, mission, and services of your startup and pinpoint what about it makes it so compelling and unique. In a scenario where you come across an investor or customer that might be interested in pursuing next steps with your startup, you should have an executive summary about your business or “deck” that includes a PowerPoint presentation to present.