In 1986, I started my first business. I worked long hours and made little money. We struggled to find customers. During our first year, my business partner and I earned about $0.50 per hour.
Starting a business wasn’t easy, but I sure did learn a lot. Through trial and error, I discovered what worked and applied those things to the other businesses I started. My experiences led me to succeed, and I created Patriot Software, just one of my successful businesses.
If you’re starting a new business, I want to help. I want to share my new business tips and tricks so your business succeeds, too. Here are five pieces of advice for new business owners.
1. Study your market
Before you officially start your business, you need to conduct a market analysis. You need to learn about your industry, get to know your potential customers, and find out who your competitors are.
Before I started my first business, I opened the phone book to find potential markets. Once I found a few options, I went to the library and researched each one. I read books about each group of people to learn about their needs. There wasn’t internet then, so market research was more difficult.
If you don’t study your business’s market, you might start in the wrong direction. We have the luxury of the internet now. Use it. Find out where your customers are and what they want. Figure out how to make your business stand out from the competition. Use what you learn to make a plan for your business.
2. Have a vision
It’s good to have a vision for your business. A vision drives you forward and pushes you to improve your business. Your vision helps you see what your business can become.
However, don’t let your vision blind you. If you look at your business through rose-colored glasses, you might miss problems. Or, you might not see a possible different direction for your business.
When I started out, I was building computers, but I saw a pivot point for my business. That’s when I started making software instead. Don’t let your vision stop you from seeing other options for your business.
3. Find an adviser
I bet you don’t know everything about running a business. That means you’re going to need help at some point. Sure, you could learn everything, but that takes a lot of time. You probably don’t have extra time when you’re running your business.
You need to find a small business adviser. Advisers specialize in certain parts of running a business, so you don’t have to be an expert in everything. You can find an adviser for anything. Do you need legal advice? Talk to an attorney.
Do you need help with local marketing? Find a marketing consultant. An adviser will give you small business startup tips that other businesses had to learn the hard way. Don’t be afraid to seek help.
4. Stay within your means
When you first start your business, you’ll want everything to look nice. Your business is new, so your business-related things, such as your building, should be shiny and fresh too, right? Well, having nice things probably doesn’t fit in your budget.
You need to work with what you have and what you can afford. When I started out, my business was in the basement of a factory. It was cold and damp.
The floors would flood. There were birds, rats, flies, and snakes. The factory basement was far from glamorous, but the rent was in our price range: free.
You need to run your business within your means. As your business grows, you can buy nicer things. But, don’t bankrupt your business before it starts by living too large.
5. Celebrate victories
Starting a business is hard, but it can be extremely rewarding. Remember to celebrate your business’s accomplishments. Recognizing your victories will help you stay motivated and moving toward your next small business milestone.
When I started my first business, getting paid was a big accomplishment. I remember getting the check for our first software job: $235 for writing a computer program. A copy of that check is still hanging on my wall today.
When we weren’t making very much, that check was something to be proud of. We had money coming in, so we kept working on our business. Celebrate the victories that keep you motivated about your business.