One of the most exciting things you can do in your life takes a major leap of faith and decide to start your own business. By venturing into the entrepreneurial lifestyle, you will be able to gain a sense of independence and determination that you have likely been searching for.
However, because you are venturing into the world of the unknown, it can be very easy to find yourself feeling lost and unsure where to turn. Statistically, a majority of all businesses are unable to functionally operate for more than a decade.
Knowing that there is a very real possibility that you will not succeed, it is important to try to start off with as much useful knowledge as you can possibly access.
Fortunately, the successes and failures of the millions of Americans who have decided to start their own businesses can help you learn and be much more likely to actually succeed on your own.
Though the information that will be most useful for your business will obviously depend on the industry you operate in, your specific goals, and your knowledge in the status quo, there are certainly some pieces of advice that nearly all businesses will find useful.
Don’t Be Afraid to Ask for Outside Help
One problem that many new business owners have is they assume that because their new business was a product of their own creative thinking, reaching out and asking for help may be a sign that they don’t really know what they’re doing.
However, assuming that your new business is something you will be able to run entirely on your own can be a very dangerous assumption. It is highly unlikely that you not only know exactly what you are doing, but you are also able to handle every element of your business (accounting, marketing, development, etc.) without any input from others.
Though they can sometimes be expensive, many successful business owners credit the use of an outside mentor as the reason they were able to get their business off the ground and functionally running. The best mentors are the ones who have experience working with many individuals in situations similar to your own and can offer you advice for how to avoid major hazards, keep yourself motivated, and create a business that will be able to stay afloat over time.
By having the humility to ask for outside help—whether this is from a mentor, a specialist, another business owner, or anything else—you will benefit from putting your desire to succeed over pride or frugality.
Understand that Debt is a Double-Edged Sword
Debt is something that can be incredibly useful for most new business owners. By entering into debt early on, you may be able to gain access to the capital you need to pay for your daily operating costs and ultimately become financially viable. However, entering into debt can also be quite risky.
Companies that become too reliant on external sources of funding may quickly find themselves having a much more difficult time breaking even. There are few things in this world that are less enjoyable than watching your already thin profit margins be immediately transferred to a lender.
In order to avoid becoming entangled in an excessive amount of debt, there are a few different things you can possibly do. The most obvious approach would be to save up a significant amount of your own money before creating your business.
However, many ambitious individuals do not have the patience for this approach. Doing things such as creating a partnership or selling equity (ownership) in your business instead of accumulating debt can help minimize your burden.
Separate Your Business from Your Personal Life
Though your new business will certainly function as a significant portion of your life, it is very important to recognize that the business is not who you are as a person. During the stress and excitement of creating a new enterprise, this simple fact is something that can be very easy to lose sight of.
Fortunately, there are many different things that you can do to help draw the line between your business and your personal life.
- Limit the amount that you are working. Though trying to succeed is certainly admirable, working 12 hour days 7 days per week will quickly burn you out.
- Make consistent efforts to keep your personal expenses and your business expenses entirely separated. This is also useful financial advice in general.
- Pay attention to the relationships you have outside of work.
- Develop hobbies, join a club, and allow for a reasonable amount of personal time.
Create a Business that you can Be Passionate About
The reason you are starting a business may very well be to make money, but it is important to recognize that money isn’t everything. The individuals who are most successful when creating a new business are the ones who are actually passionate about what they are doing.
If your business caters to a specific niche—such as providing customized envelops to people—that doesn’t necessarily mean envelopes are something you need to be passionate about. Obviously, these businesses still serve a very important function.
But what you can be passionate about in this case is working with other people and doing everything you can to provide them with realistic solutions to their problems.
Be Willing to Adapt Over Time
Many new business owners start their business because they have an idea that they believe is truly revolutionary. Though this may indeed be the case, an idea alone—no matter how brilliant—is never enough to guarantee your business will survive. The businesses that are able to genuinely succeed are the ones that can adapt most effectively to a constantly changing world.
Stubbornness—and the refusal to change—is often the greatest downfall of an otherwise feasible business model. The best businesses will be the ones that are constantly looking for new ways they can improve and offer an objective source of value to the market. Even if things are going well in the status quo, you should always be looking for ways to make things better.
Though many of these tips for running a business may seem rather intuitive at first, they are often among the most frequently overlooked. If you can consistently ask for help, use debt responsibly, create balance in your life, maintain a sense of passion, and be willing to change, your business will be in an excellent position to succeed.