Need a change of career and want to take control of your own life? Being an entrepreneur and running your own business can be an exciting and rewarding experience, but it’s not without its challenges. Before you dive in to your thrilling new business concept, there are some key things you need to understand first, if you want to succeed.
Know your market
There are a lot more failed start-ups out there than thriving businesses, and it’s not for a lack of good ideas. In fact, plenty of business owners have a brilliant product concept but they fail to make the all-important next step – understanding their market, and how they can relate to it.
Market research is an important first step when planning out your business, and should be one of the first things you do. Done well, this can help you get a clear understanding of who your customers are and aren’t, what they need, and how they live their lives. Once you know this information, you can decide if your product is relevant to them, and work out the best way of presenting it to them to make it irresistible.
You should be passionate about your industry
Having a great idea is just the first part of starting a business – it will take a lot more time and commitment to bring it to life. That’s why if your heart isn’t truly in it from the start, you might soon find yourself running out of energy.
You’ll need to fully embrace your industry, and be prepared to put in a lot of time and effort understanding it. Make sure that you’re ready to explore the tougher, grittier parts of it, not simply the more enjoyable aspects that a customer might experience.
Pay attention to current trends
Trends impact all kinds of industries, and if you pay attention, you may see that different ideas and technologies rise and fall in prominence over time. To succeed in running a business, it’s a good idea to have an understanding of what has been going on in your chosen industry, from the emergence of cutting edge technologies such as AI, to shifts in working patterns across the populace, such as the growth in working from home.
Changing trends might also have an influence on how business is carried out, as well as what people might look for. Take a look here to understand more about how the availability of more digital data can shape marketing.
Know your own strengths and weaknesses
A SWOT analysis, covering your strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats is an essential tool in establishing and running any new business endeavor. Doing this in detail will most likely also reveal surprising information to you, that you might have otherwise overlooked.
Each component is important to the health of a business. Your strengths will show you what you should focus on and take advantage of, while weaknesses can reveal where it may be good to get additional help or guidance. Identifying opportunities can show not only the most obvious ones, but also hidden gems you may not have considered. And looking honestly at the threats from competitors or environmental factors is essential if you want to be able to adapt and meet challenges over the lifetime of your business. This is also something worth repeating at each stage of your business’ growth.
Take a realistic look at costs
Starting a small business might not cost as much as you might think – a small or micro-business working from home could get going with an initial investment of a few thousand dollars. However, running a business can take a lot more investment, especially if it may be some time before you start seeing any profits coming back in.
Before getting started, it’s a wise idea to create a detailed business plan that lists all your expenses. Don’t be tempted to overlook even the smallest expense, as it can all add up. This will give you a clear idea of how much money your business will need to survive in the early weeks and months. If you know that you have enough cash to support your costs in the initial stages, this will put you in a much better place to succeed in the long term. Having a clear cash flow strategy, as well as a generous amount of savings to keep you going, will mean that you can put all of your effort into getting the fledgling business off the ground, without having to immediately worry about making enough money to survive.
Have a wide skillset
Being an entrepreneur means wearing several hats, often at the same time. If you’re moving into running your own business after working as an employee with a team around you, be prepared to take on more roles that you may not be used to.
As well as developing a successful business idea and carrying it out, you’ll also likely have to communicate with other partners and peers, negotiate with service providers, carry out marketing activities and potentially manage employees. All of these roles demand a different set of skills, and you’ll need to be flexible, with enough stamina to move through them all with ease.
Be prepared to fail
A large number of start-ups fail, and often it’s through no fault of their own. Despite having an excellent idea, a clear plan and well thought out strategy, sometimes things just don’t work out. If you’re the kind of person that will feel disappointed and deflated if things don’t go the way you hoped, then you might struggle being a business owner.
Life as an entrepreneur takes some serious mental strength, with the ability to take challenges and failures on the chin, without taking it too personally. Instead, each failure can be a great opportunity to learn more about what you could do differently next time, helping you to pave the way for your eventual success.