If only there were a one-size-fits all when it comes to business success, right? If that was the case everyone would be an entrepreneur. There are, however some ways in which you can more easily achieve business success. Yes, hard work and having a great idea are two factors, but there are more. There are myriad reasons why individuals decide to strike out on their own and delve into entrepreneurship and they range from being unemployed, underemployed or simply dissatisfied in their current position.
Most people who make the leap have a marketable skill in a niche that they love. What do I mean by that? As an example, I am a journalist. I started my career at a local newspaper as an obituary writer, moved up to the lifestyle pages and eventually into the role of editor. When the paper closed I had a marketable skill — writing/editing — and the desire to be a self-bosser. I had a niche and a product that people needed and wanted — the written word. It didn’t happen overnight and I had to “pay my dues” by taking on some clients I would never work with today and working for less pay than I was worth, but I did it to get a portfolio. Word of mouth helped me grow my business into what it is today.
Here are my tips for how to be a business success
Define your goal. By that I mean, do you simply want to make enough money to afford “coffee out with the girls” a few times a week or do you want to make enough money to buy a new car, a second home, send your child to college or finance a fantastic vacation? Once you know what you want to achieve you can then put goals into place to make that happen. If you don’t have a destination in mind you will wander aimlessly AND you won’t truly be able to say, “I’m a success!” because you never put a goal in place.
Make sure you have cash reserves. You don’t want to walk into your boss’s office and say, “That’s it. I quit!” unless you have some money in the bank or a spouse or significant other who has the income to support you while you pursue your dream. If you are dissatisfied with your job or are afraid that downsizing may be in your future, start stashing some cash now. Brown bag it and put the money you would have spent into your savings account. Cut back on household expenses; do you really need that many television channels? Can you brew your own coffee rather than buying it out every day? Would it be less expensive to read newspapers online than to pay for a home delivery? Every little bit helps and having a cash cushion will relieve a lot of pressure when you’re getting started.
Do you have a marketable skill? If you don’t have one, but want to learn one do that while you’re still employed. Just because you want to be a writer doesn’t mean you have the skill for that career. You can certainly learn, but you will be competing with individuals who have been in the field for years. If you have always yearned to do taxes for individuals, take a course, gain some experience then strike out on your own. A potential client will want to know that you know your stuff before they will hand over their hard-earned cash.
“Hi, my name is…” Network. Network. Network. If you don’t get out and shake a few hands, how will people know that you’re either in business for yourself or are pursuing that dream? They won’t! You need to make friends with potential clients and get to know others in the business arena. Attend a Chamber of Commerce event, join local Toastmaster groups (great for networking), attend local conferences where you can meet potential business clients.
Social media can be your friend when it comes to building a base of potential clients, but remember do not always be selling. Social media is for being social.
Do you have what it takes? Being an entrepreneur or a solopreneur is not for the faint of heart. It takes a lot of work. You need to sell yourself and shamelessly self promote. You need to be willing to eat ramen while you’re growing your client base. Entrepreneurs rarely work 9-5.
Making it legal. Apply for an EIN (employer identification number), open a business bank account, incorporate if necessary. Find a lawyer or an accountant and ask what type business entity you should operate under. Determine whether you will need to collect sales tax.
Make a business plan. Yes, you need a business plan. It can be a one-page document on which you will note your business idea, what you will charge, how you will bill, who your ideal client is, where and how you will market, your business budget and other pertinent information for your particular business idea. In your business plan you will also want to note who your competition is, what they do, how they do it, and ideas that you can emulate. The business plan should be a living document on which you will note any changes you make to your original plan, expand on original ideas and note successes and failures. Remember a failure is a chance to learn and revamp.
What is your business idea? Have you dipped your toes into the market to see if there is a need for what you have to offer? If so, go forth and prosper!