(1) Be realistic: It’s great to be a cheerleader for your company when dealing with customers and clients, but you must be realistic when it comes to understanding the limitations of your business, making financial projections, accepting apparent weaknesses, etc. We’ve all heard the expression, “Don’t drink your own Kool-Aid.” This principle applies to new ventures as it can get a startup entrepreneur in real trouble. Be honest and realistic as you move forward. If not, trouble can come before success!
(2) Slow down: It’s a never-ending problem all founders and small business owners have. There is never enough time in the day to get everything accomplished. It’s either too much to do by yourself or a lack of delegation. Whatever the problem, you must find time to step back from the business to relax, enjoy, and think. Yes, think. Without some “down” time, you cannot properly plan, innovate, or make improvements. Work smarter, not harder and longer!
(3) Full energy: You can only be successful in a small business when you devote your full energy to your new venture. This doesn’t mean working yourself to death (see #2 above). It does mean, however, that whatever hours you devote to your new endeavor whether full-time or part-time, it needs to be with your full energy and devotion during those hours. Who wants to do business with you or, possibly, invest in your business when you’re not giving it your “100%” when needed? Work on your new business with partial energy and see only partial results!
(4) Hatch your eggs: Make sure your eggs hatch before moving forward. Every entrepreneur wants to make a big splash right out of the starting blocks. It would be wonderful if it works that way but most of the time, it doesn’t. Throw a small pebble, make a ripple, and see what works. Then you’re ready to throw a boulder and make a big splash. Make sure the eggs hatch before moving on!
(5) Competence counts: Entrepreneurs “think” they know best and, maybe, they do when it comes to the technical aspects of their businesses. When it comes to other areas such as taxes, accounting, insurance, or legal, it pays to obtain professional and competent advice. Don’t try to do something yourself today only to hire a professional tomorrow to undo your mistakes. Pay to get the competent advice right from the start. Pay now or pay later!
(6) Narrow your focus: It would be nice to be all things to all customers, but it usually doesn’t work that way. Narrow your focus and concentrate on what you do best. Determine your strategy, define your target market, and don’t deviate. New opportunities and new markets can be profitable, but they must match the internal resources and strengths of a business. Be a great business in a narrow market rather than a mediocre business in a broad market. Focus first, then expand!
(7) Market research: Of course you know that your product or service is going to be successful, but have you checked with prospective customers for what they want? Market research is a powerful tool that can help lead a new business in the right direction. You can do it yourself. Ask, talk, send surveys, read industry publications, search the Internet, have a “think tank” dinner with respected business colleagues. When so much information is available before you start your business, why not take advantage of it? Market research just might be an eye-opener!
(8) Be prepared: It’s exciting to get a new business off the ground, but you must be prepared. This means having everything in place, so there is no faltering when the “doors open.” Financing, employees, marketing, procedures, etc. must be in place and ready to go. Why stumble at the opening when you can start running? It’s all about being prepared!
(9) Be passionate but prudent: You can’t be a small business owner if you’re not passionate about what you do. Unfortunately, being passionate does not always equate to being successful. Be practical, wise, and sensible when making business decisions. New startups do not have the luxury of poor decision making…and survive. Take the opposite approach. Be prudent and succeed!
(10) Know your numbers: You’re not an accountant. You don’t want to be an accountant, but you still need to know the numbers of your business…inside and out. What is your estimated revenue, cost of goods sold, gross profit percentage, cash burn rate, or current ratio? If the numbers don’t work, then your business might not work. Don’t leave all the numbers to someone else. Perhaps, they can do the preparation, but you still need to understand the numbers!
Source: http://www.aasbc.com, 10/23/14.