If you’ve decided that it’s time to quit punching a time clock and start calling the shots, you’re likely planning to strike out on your own and become an entrepreneur. Not only are you in good company, there truly is no time like the present for becoming your own boss. Fact is, for the first time in 18 years, venture capital has hit its peak in this country, meaning that many people just like you are accessing funding and following their true passion.
Nice as the sentiment is, those folks aren’t you, and entrepreneurship can feel like a lonely venture. Whether your goal is to have five employees or five thousand, beginning with your own skill set and ideas puts all of the weight on your shoulders. It’s exciting, it’s a lot of work, and the sheer number of things you have to do to get everything off the ground is daunting.
Sound familiar? We thought so. The truth of the matter is that no one became successful entirely at their own hand, and if you’re looking for tips to take your self-made CEO status to the next level, we’ve got them (10, to be exact). Grab a notebook, take a seat, and take down some new suggestions to ease your mind and improve your strategy.
- Don’t sleep on existing companies – So, maybe you have an invention you want patented, or a crazy new concept that you believe no one has thought of before. You dreamed it up so it must be totally unique, right? Wrong. People have the same ideas all the time, and they also frequently mistake improving upon someone else’s creation for a totally new brainstorm. Odds are, somebody else tried something similar before you, so make sure you do some thorough research on your competition before throwing yourself into the marketplace.
- If at first you do not niche – …try, try again. Given the fact that you may not be the only joint selling what you have to offer, it’s possible that your output may need to take a whole new direction. Maybe a few whole new directions. Definitely as many whole new directions as it takes to ensure you’ve found your niche, or your own little slice of target market that’s not currently catered to by the other guys.
- Diamonds might be forever, but niches are not – Ready for a hard truth? Once you find your niche, you have to be prepared for it to change. Consumers change their minds all the time, what’s trending today is out tomorrow, and it’s up to you to rise to the occasion. One main component to entrepreneurial success is flexibility, so get ready to bend according to market demands.
- Get the word on the street – When you’re just starting out, customer feedback is your best friend. Whether you want to automate a survey or simply reach out to your client base to find out how you’re doing, take what they have to say to heart. These are your first and most pivotal relationships, and their opinions of your company are worth their weight in gold.
- Maintain a singular focus – Maybe you’re a creative type who has so many business-related dreams, you figure that if you’re going to knock one out, you might as well do all of them. Don’t do that—see one idea through at a time. Even if you’re riding high from a booming product launch, you’re going to have to sustain that success long-term, so don’t bite off more than you can chew.
- Risky business is a stepping stone – Although taking your newly-minted venture step by step is a wise choice, don’t let fear keep you from taking some level of calculated risk. After all, you made it this far, so keep on going! Regardless of whether the chances you take ultimately pass or fail, it’s the journey that makes the business, and you may need to take a couple of hits before hitting your stride.
- Tidy up your financial status – With any luck, your entrepreneurship will go off without a hitch, and you’ll be rocking the business world without digging yourself into a tremendous amount of debt. In the event that that doesn’t happen, you may want decent credit when you go for funding. Ditch any lingering bills beforehand, so you can stroll into the bank with confidence.
- Don’t go it alone – It might be hard for you to picture your dream in the hands of anyone other than you, but the truth is that two heads are often better than one. Where you see struggles, someone else may see opportunities, so keep a potential partnership in the back of your mind while you’re planning. The right duo can be dynamic, and wouldn’t it be nice to have someone to bounce ideas off of?
- Get some professional input – In the same vein as #8, solitary work is not the way to go in every instance. Say you’re not a numbers person, but you have books to balance and insurances you’ve been putting off purchasing. Cue the financial professional to give you a much-needed break, analyzing your specific situation and giving you relevant steps to take to better your fiscal outlook. Call them up!
- Keep looking out for #1 – It’s true that being an entrepreneur is an always-on job, and there will always be a tremendous amount of work for you to do. However, that doesn’t mean that you should neglect self-care in the process. The boss is no good if they’re too exhausted to function. Avoid burnout by taking time away from the laptops and drawing boards, spend time with your loved ones, and try to get a little sleep. You are the heart of the business, and preserving your health will ensure you stay in it for the long haul.