5 Questions To Ask Yourself Before You Start Out As An Entrepreneur

Going into business is a huge step to take. Whilst working for somebody else has its downsides (and quite a lot of them, at that), you need to make sure that you know what you’re doing before you dive into the world of being an entrepreneur, and there are a few questions that you need to ask yourself in order to be certain that you’re doing the right thing.

We’ve put together five of them here, so that you can go into business safe in the knowledge that you’ve prepared as well as you can for the success that you deserve!

1. Is this person a good business partner?

The likelihood is that you’re going into business with somebody else, and before you sign up to working alongside this person, you need to make sure that they’re the right business partner for you. It’s a good idea to make sure that they have strong values, integrity, and that they will be honest with you so that you can make the business work together. However, a business partner can have all of these respectable traits, but still not be the right fit due to issues with communication. Find somebody who you can talk to, as you’ll need to have important discussions when you’re going through stressful times.

2. Are you going to bring something valuable to your customers?

There are many businesses in operation that don’t start out with the intention of bringing something valuable to their customers, and they have to learn the hard way that a business without passion and values is a lot harder to run. If you wake up every day, and drive to work knowing that you are providing a useful and important service, it will make your role as an entrepreneur a lot easier, and a lot more rewarding. Of course, it’s important to find gaps in the market, but you may be able to find a niche in your field that works because the passion is there, so think about this before you start out.

3. Do you know the fundamentals?

Business is one of those things that you learn about as you go along, but in order to make a success out of it, knowing the fundamentals before you begin is key. For example, do you have the sufficient knowledge about tax, legal processes, contacting an appeals lawyer in case of any issues, and the financial side of running a business? If you don’t educate yourself on these things – or get educated by somebody else – then you could risk seeing your business fail within your first few months as an entrepreneur. Prepare yourself, and learn all that you can about business before you get the ball rolling.

4. Do you have a business plan?

Whatever field you’re going into, however big or small your business is, and whatever you’re hoping to get out of this endeavour, you need to have a business plan. If you’re new to being an entrepreneur, you will soon discover the importance of planning, and you will also see that without a plan, problems are much more likely to occur. Even if you only have a plan to give yourself a sense of security (and the feeling that you’re not at the helm of a business that doesn’t know where it’s going) you need to make sure you’ve got one. Focus on your finances, the direction of your company, and your annual profit expectations.

5. Are you ready to sacrifice?

All successful entrepreneurs have to sacrifice something, whether it is their current job role, their social lives, or the time that they would usually spend with their families. The truth is that if you want to be successful, you have to be putting the hours in, as your competitors are going to be doing this, too. Of course, it’s better to work smart than to work hard if you can do this, but the likelihood is that in your first few months of business, you’ll need to sacrifice some things in order to keep it going. Before you start out, ask yourself whether you’re ready to sacrifice these things for a while.

So, if you’re about to start out as an entrepreneur, you need to ask yourself a multitude of questions, but these are some of the most fundamental ones. Whatever you decide to go into, make sure that you’re not just stumbling into it blindly, and you could be on the road to business success in no time. Enjoy being an entrepreneur!

5 Big Mistakes No Successful Entrepreneur Will Make Again

It may seem like some of the biggest companies out there are being run by people who know everything about the business world. While they may know a lot about it, it doesn’t mean they don’t make mistakes. In fact, almost every entrepreneur has made at least one mistake in their career. There’s nothing wrong with making a mistake as long as you learn something from it. And if you don’t want to learn from your own mistakes but you’d rather learn from other entrepreneur’s experiences, make sure you read on.

Not using social media

There’s no need to say that social media is huge right now. Just in New Zealand, there are 3.5 million active social media users and we can expect this number to grow in the future. However, some entrepreneurs believe using social media is a waste of time and decide not to create social media presence for their business. This is definitely something you don’t want to do, especially because people now often turn to social media search when looking for a product or service. In order to make sure everyone can reach you, you need to create pages on platforms such as Facebook and Twitter, and use them on a daily basis to communicate with your customers directly.

Forgetting to pay themselves

Many rookie entrepreneurs get so excited about running their own business that they completely forget about paying themselves. Even if they do remember to do so, they often decide not to do it in order to leave more money for their company to work with. This can seem like an amazing idea at first but it can seriously hurt both your personal and business finances. If you don’t pay yourself, you’ll soon find yourself with no money on your bank account. Also, you won’t get a clear picture of how well your business is doing and doing your taxes will be more difficult. Those who decided not to pay themselves have learned the hard way that they deserve to receive a paycheck for all their hard work.

Not being formal enough

Running a business is a serious task and only those who take it that way will be able to succeed. That being said, you should try to be formal whenever you get the chance. Let’s say you’re responding to a negative comment from a customer. Instead of arguing with them, you should try to be as formal and polite as possible. This will show your customers that you care about what they have to say, which can be a big plus for your company. When meeting a business partner, renting a vehicle from companies such as Avis Car Rental is a good idea as it makes you look more professional and helps you bring your A-game to the meeting.

Setting unattainable goals

Running your own business sure is great and just like most entrepreneurs out there, you dream of conquering it all. While dreaming big is an important part of success, you can’t just expect your business to do exceptionally well from day one. Many entrepreneurs end up setting unattainable goals for their business right from the start which ends up affecting their operations. In order to make sure this doesn’t happen to you, you need to be extra careful when setting goals for your business. It’s important to start small and adjust your goals as your business grows. We recommend putting your goals in writing so that you could review them every once in a while and make any necessary adjustments.

Taking everyone’s advice

The business world is full of “gurus” who believe they’re the next Mark Zuckerberg or Larry Ellison. Those people will often give you advice in order to help you grow your business. Taking everything they say seriously is a good idea and it could help you take your business to the next level. However, this doesn’t mean you need to do everything they advise you to do. Instead, you need to rely on your own knowledge and instincts. Therefore, every time you need to make an important business decision, you should think about what you want to do and only then listen to what other people have to say. Many of those who’ve taken every piece of advice they’ve got ended up failing even before they got a chance to show what they can do.

Being an entrepreneur isn’t easy. Make sure you don’t make these 5 mistakes and you’ll have nothing to worry about. Even when something goes wrong, fix it as quickly as possible and try to learn something from it.

Diana Smith is a full time mom of two beautiful girls interested in latest business news and new social media trends. In her free time she enjoys exercising and preparing healthy meals for her family.

6 Catastrophic Mistakes An Entrepreneur Can Make In Their Business’ First Year

What makes a great entrepreneur? There are numerous theories on the subject. Is it their hard work, dedication and commitment? Is it their invention, imagination and ability to think outside the box? Is it their ability to parse metric data and use it to keep their finger on the pulse of what their customers want and need? Or could it be their ability to motivate and rally their employees; helping them to work with gusto towards a shared goal. Ultimately, these are all extremely important but it’s arguable that the most important quality of entrepreneurship is…

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Image by Pixabay

Just start.

There are lots of people out there, right now, slaving away in jobs they despise who have a great idea for a business. They have spotted a gap in the market, devised a concept for a product for a product or service that neatly fills that gap and they have a clear vision in their heads of how that can be extrapolated into a living, breathing, working SME. They may have cobbled together something resembling a business plan in their free time. They’ve had some preliminary thoughts about what their business’ mission statement might be and how it would be reflected in their branding. They might even have crunched some numbers to create a reasonably accurate cash flow forecast. But they never reached the point where they reached out to sources of funding or even registered their business’ name. Why? Because they were paralyzed by their fear of the unknown. This perfectly natural and perfectly human impulse may be understandable but it can keep potentially successful entrepreneurs stuck on the path of wage slavery; languishing away in jobs where they’re underpaid, underappreciated and undervalued when they could be at the head of a thriving enterprise.

By far the most crippling of fears when it comes to starting a business is the fear of failure. After all, the numbers are not on the side of nascent entrepreneurs. We’ve all heard that 50% of SMEs fail within their first four years and we’re paralyzed by the fear of what will happen if we fall within this damning statistic. But here’s the thing…

There’s nothing to fear but fear itself

If you have a fantastic idea for a business that would benefit your local high street, create jobs, fill a gap on the market, benefit the local economy and liberate you from a job you despise, it behooves you to overcome your fear of failure and at least attempt to make your business a reality. Very often, failure in small business is not the end but simply a blip on a long learning curve. At worst, you will be made bankrupt (although this is certainly not an inevitable consequence of failure in small business). But in most cases bankruptcy is not the end of an entrepreneurial career. Some of the most successful people on the planet have been made bankrupt at least once.

That said, failure is never an appealing prospect. If we can forego the expense and emotional turmoil that come with failure in small business, so much the better, right?

Learning from the mistakes of others

The beauty of living in the digital age is that we have unparalleled access to a wealth of information which can give you and your business the inside track. As well as learning from our own mistakes (an inevitable and necessary part of small business) we can benefit from the mistakes of other nascent businesses. While there may be no surefire way of avoiding failure in the world of small business (if there were, everyone would be running their own SME), there are certainly commonly made mistakes that you can sidestep when you plan your operations and strategy around avoiding them. Here we’ll look at some of the commonly made mistakes made by businesses in their first year and how you can prevent your business from replicating them…

Under investing to insulate profit margins

When many entrepreneurs start out, they do so with one goal in mind… turning a profit. So long as the numbers are in the black month or month that means the business is going well, right? Well, not necessarily. As important as it is for small businesses to guard against irresponsible, reckless or vanity spending, it’s also vital that they avoid under investing in their enterprises. Under investment in personnel, capital investments like software or equipment, or maintaining / renovating your premises can impede your business’ growth. Unless you’re prepared to invest in better infrastructure for your small business it will only ever stay small and its scope will be limited. While you should certainly learn to walk before you can run and it can be counterproductive to set out with growth in mind before you know how to facilitate that growth sustainably, you should avoid the temptation to under invest in your business for the sake of insulating your profit margins.

Small businesses need to be agile and adaptable and if you fail to invest adequately, you may fail to capitalize on opportunities that come your way and your competitors will leave you in the dust.

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Image Credit

Dipping into personal funds to finance aspects of the business

Separating personal and business finances can be a real learning curve for nascent entrepreneurs. When you have a lot of passion and personal / emotional investment in your business it only makes sense to put your money where your mouth is… but this can be a serious mistake. Not only should you have separate accounts for your personal and business finances, you should take pains to ensure that one doesn’t bleed into the other. Otherwise you could find yourself on a slippery slope.

Trying to do a grade A job with grade B materials

In your first year of business, the name of the game is reputation. With such a plethora of competition out there, prospective customers need a reason to choose your business and not the legions of others who do exactly the same thing. This means that your reputation must be beyond reproach. While a big part of this is in how your employees deal with customers and the experience that your customers can expect, let’s not forget that you can’t do a grade A job with grade B materials. If you work in the construction industry, for example you know that you wouldn’t compromise on materials or make rush decisions when building the foundations of your project. You’d go to HelitechCCD.com and invest what you had to in materials that are right for the job. Otherwise, the whole thing could come tumbling down and take your reputation with it. Whether you’re in construction, catering or content the principal remains the same.

Spending too much time “at the coalface” and too little time on strategy

Entrepreneurs tend to have a proactive and hard working nature and when they see their employees struggling, their first instinct is to roll up your sleeves and join them at the coalface. But while noble in its intentions, this approach can be counterproductive in a number of ways. It can make your employees dependant on you at best or at worst turn you into the kind of relentless micromanager that employees hate to work for. Moreover, this is rarely the best place for you to invest your time and efforts. As the CEO of your business, your time is better spend in your office, concentrating on the strategic running of your business rather than day to day operations. It’s your responsibility to analyze your performance metrics and use them to influence your operational strategy month by month.

Having a resistant approach to new technology

Technology these days moves at a blistering pace. Investing in your technological infrastructure is rarely cheap and often requires an investment not only of capital but of time and effort as you and your employees get to grips with the software and hardware that your business needs to succeed. Thus, when equilibrium is achieved between a business and its tech, it can be extremely tempting to resist technological change. But technological change is an inevitable part of doing business in the 21st century. You need to maintain an agile approach to tech and be prepared to throw out the rulebook when a technological advancement necessitates an overhaul of your operations. If you resist technological change you could end up a dinosaur in your industry, like Blockbuster video in the age of Netflix. If this involves a prohibitively expensive overhaul of your IT or tech infrastructure, you may wish to consider outsourcing your IT operations. Not only will it insulate you from a lot of the cost of staying current, but your tech solutions can be scaled up as your business grows.

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Image by Flickr

Failing to keep an eye on the competition

As important as it is to stay ahead of the curve, keeping your eyes too closely on your own work can be counterproductive. Your business does not operate in a vacuum and competitor analysis is an essential component of any sound business strategy. If your competitors offer something you don’t, run a promotion that you don’t or offer the same services at a price you can’t match you can’t assume that your customers will remain loyal to you.

Steer clear of these common pitfalls of first year businesses, however, and you stand every chance of laying a firm foundation for success.

 

 

 

 

Essential Skills for an Ecommerce Entrepreneur

Becoming a successful entrepreneur is not an easy task. Many have tried and failed miserably. But, don’t let this fact discourage you. The reason they failed was the lack of skill and ideas. If you are not satisfied with the skills you possess, or are not sure what to improve in order to become a successful entrepreneur, despair no more. Listed below is the list of 5 “must have” skills you should acquire in order to become a successful entrepreneur and create a name of your own.

Web basics

No one expects you to know all about the Internet and its code, but learning the basics will greatly improve your chances for success. Get familiar with web technologies, and learn how they work. Try and learn all about HTML, CSS and FTP. Read guides and tutorials and find out as much useful information as you can. These are the basic skills you need to acquire in order to run a successful eCommerce, so learn as quickly as you can.

Marketing guru

One of the highest earning professions in the world is a marketing guru, and at the moment, there is a serious demand for such skilled people. Knowing a thing or two about marketing is not enough; you have to dig deep and know all the secrets and little things that can help you promote your product tomorrow. You have to start from scratch and work your way towards perfecting this skill. Without traffic, you have no leads and no sales. It doesn’t matter how amazing the design of your website is, if you cannot generate leads by implementing a proper marketing strategy, you’re doomed.

SEO Expertise

Another skill that was proven useful almost every time is search engine optimization. If you are able to utilize Google’s infinite potential and use it at your own advantage, there is no stopping you from selling or launching your product. This is especially important for eCommerce businesses, for most of their sales will go via Internet. Work on improving your customer base, and try finding new ways of advertising your products and services. Having good connections is very important in this business, so be creative and see how you can benefit from others by creating collaborations. Mutual benefit is the best way to fast development.

Self-teaching

One of the best traits of every successful businessman is the ability to adapt to and learn new techniques and abilities. One way of doing so is by attending online courses or watching tutorials on how something is done. Another way of doing it is by reading other people’s guides and lesson notes. There are plenty of awesome guides and information online, and all you have to do is look for uq past exams notes. There you can find notes on almost any subject, thorough analysis and legal studies of cases and projects, accounting notes, as well as essays and summaries on many different topics. Use it at your advantage, and educate yourself in any field you choose to master.

The ability to solve fresh problems

Each day, you will face many different problems. Some will appear out of the blue while others will stack up and wait for you to handle them. As a future successful businessman, you have to be able to take care of these problems on the go. Use your intelligence and creativity and work on solving all your problems as soon as they appear. If you disregard them, you will get overwhelmed before you even realize what is going on. If something can be done today, don’t leave it for tomorrow.

These 5 listed skills are your most powerful weapon. Use them wisely and improve them with each passing day. Remember to apply them to your business. It is only a matter of time before you score a significant deal, one that will put you on the track to success.

Tracey Clayton is a working mom of three girls, passionate about traveling, marketing and everything tech related. Her motto is: “Live the life you love; love the life you live.”

How To Start A Successful Business Abroad

In general, becoming a successful entrepreneur takes so much hard work and can be very difficult. But, it seems as though the odds are stacked against you if you’re an entrepreneur in a foreign country.

Local investors and businesses may not be inclined to take you seriously as you’re not a resident yourself. This isn’t just talking about foreign people owning businesses in this country, it applies to anyone from here going overseas and trying to start a company too.

What I want to talk about today is how you can start a business abroad, and get taken seriously. Take a look at my advice below for more info:

Research The Foreign Market

Before starting a business in a foreign market, you need to do your research. Spend hour upon hour getting to know the market, figuring out how things are usually done, and just becoming an all-around expert. You will get taken more seriously if you know everything about the place you’re setting up a business in. If you can tell local businesses and investors information, they don’t know, that’s when you get respect. If they constantly have to fill you in and you’re always asking questions about how things are done, that’s when they don’t take you seriously.

Learn The Language

You will gain so much more respect if you can learn the language of the country you’re aiming to start a business in. This removes the need for interpreters and means you can speak with local people in their native tongue. If you’re from overseas coming here, you should try and not only learn English but also speak English with an American accent. This will get you taken seriously as you’ll speak coherently and everyone will understand you, and there’s no need to keep repeating yourself. The same goes the other way too, make sure you learn a foreign language and understand how to speak in their accent and blend in as a local. It will help dramatically, not least because it shows you respect the country and are serious about starting a company there.

Bring A Unique Idea To The Table

This final tip kind of blends in with the first one about researching the foreign market. During your research, you should be able to pinpoint gaps in the market and possible unique ideas. Often, this idea could be something that’s common in your home country but really hasn’t taken off abroad. So, you get in there and fill that gap with an idea that’s unique to this foreign country. The great thing is, you will be taken seriously as your idea has proof that it’ll be successful because it works back home. Regardless, you just need to have a unique idea at your disposal that’s never been done in that country before. It makes you seem really serious about business, and the locals will be impressed.

Whether you’re from overseas looking to start a business here, or you’re an American going abroad, use this advice to help you get started. It should help you gain more traction and get off to a winning start.