9 Valuable Tips from First-time Business Owners
Even with the tens-of-thousands of successful businesses in operation, rounding up business tips is no easy task. There’s no one-size-fits-all recipe for business success.
Take a look at our 9 valuable tips from first-time business owners to help inform you as you start selling online.
1. Create a culture of trust
Feeling like you’re too picky with who you choose to work? All is well. The only connections possibly more important than buyers are the people who work with you.
Try to work with a range of people from different backgrounds, all of whom you know would run the business in the business’ favor.
Successful entrepreneurs know that they will always have gaps in their knowledge. Learning from your trusted peers is one of the strongest investments in professional development you can make.
“The ability to establish, grow, extend, and restore trust is the key professional and personal competency of our time.” – Stephen M.R. Covey, NY Times Best-Selling Author
2. Understand the importance of your social network
Many business-owners place all their focus on the technical aspects of establishing a business. However, engaging with a professional network and building a strong community for yourself can actually pay later on.
By networking, you are able to market your brand effectively, turn relationships into possible partnerships, and acquire insight about your industry and competition.
Twitter, Facebook, Instagram — frivolous social media sites, right?
Well, not exactly. Simple tricks, like curating your social media feeds, engaging with followers, and posting content unique to your business are all great ways to continue building a robust network of connections.
Moreover, a good social media presence pays. Over 90% of current and potential customers reach out to a brand online. If you have great social networking skills, chances are you will be able to transfer those skills over to business and bring in more conversions or clients.
"Your network is your net worth." – Porter Gale, Former VP of Marketing at Virgin America
3. Every interaction represents your brand
Nowadays, a digital archive can be pulled up in a matter of seconds, revealing all past and present transgressions of a company or individual.
As an entrepreneur, you are the steward of your brand image -- whether helping out on customer service or contacting a company for some quality guest-posting.
Even if you run a small online store, your words and actions can have considerable impact on your business – for better or for worse.
“A brand is the set of expectations, memories, stories and relationships that, taken together, account for a consumer's decision to choose one product or service over another.” – Seth Godin, Marketing Guru
4. Money isn’t everything, but don’t act like it isn’t
Throughout the course of building your business, you will need to take risks. Sometimes, these risks will involve money. While taking calculated risks results in generally positive outcomes, splurging recently acquired capital is not advised.
Your expense account should stay trim: no fancy offices, cars, or furniture. When improperly executed, these expenses can fail a business.
Do you think your employees or partners will be happy to hear that you aren’t making the numbers, and that you can’t pay them on time? Or that your marketing budgets must be cut for the next month?
By monitoring your cash flows as early and as often as possible, you will avoid becoming one of the many companies that fold.
“Too many people spend money they earned..to buy things they don't want..to impress people that they don't like.” – Will Rogers, American Actor
5. You will fail. Get used to it.
You invest time and energy into your business idea, only to find that there is no market for your product. What do you do?
No person wants to start a business that fails, but failure is such an integral part of business. How do you embrace this paradox?
There are many solutions, but the most effective is to treat every failure as a learning opportunity.
Roadblocks can present you with chances that you might not have had if everything had gone as planned, providing you valuable insider knowledge. Make the most of your failures, and get up after you fall down.
“Even if you fail at your ambitious thing, it’s very hard to fail completely.” – Larry Page, Former CEO of Alphabet
6. It will never be the “right time” to launch
So you have your million-dollar-idea. You’re certain it benefits people, and it stands out from the competitors.
Every day, you’re working on your company or store, hard-at-work to make sure everything is perfect. All good -- except you were scheduled to launch three months ago.
Maybe you don’t think the product is ready, or maybe you think it can be improved. Maybe you’re second-guessing the market demand for your product!
Let us tell you: there is no perfect time to enter the market.
The sooner you place your product on the market, the sooner you can gain customer feedback, and improve the product overall!
“In business, perfection is the enemy of profitability.” – Mark Cuban, Shark Tank
7. Keep your idea top-of-mind
As an entrepreneur, you have a unique opportunity to share your expertise with the world. Your experiences alone might be as valuable as your products!
Reach out to publications and offer to author blog posts or other content based on your specific expertise and knowledge.
Many online platforms have content needs they need to fill, and, as an added benefit, you will be bolstering your brand’s reputation as both a) the superhero who swoops in and gets the job done and b) the valuable content provider.
By focusing on your idea, you can turn valuable knowledge and innovative thinking into content that can create more profitable streams for your business.
“Our job is not to create content. Our job is to change the world of the people who consume it.” – Andrea Fryrear, Marketing Coach
8. Value your personal time
Your business is just that, your business. It’s not you.
You have family, friends, hobbies and interests that deserve your attention too. Even after giving all your focus and energy into your company, make sure to save some for yourself.
You could burn out early on, preventing your business from scaling as quickly as it could.
Think of your time as an investment: would you put all of your bets on one outcome, or would you diversify (a bit) to prevent potential failures? Commit to using your personal time, so that when you return to your business activities you can achieve even more.
“You can’t have everything, but you can have the things that really matter to you.” – Marissa Mayer, former president and CEO of Yahoo
9. Like thy customer. Love thy competition.
Make no mistake, customers are important. In a world of almost two billion digital buyers, overlooking your customers’ needs could land you in trouble. More difficult, however, is understanding the importance your competition plays in your business strategy.
It goes without saying that the internet moves faster and faster – every day. It can be difficult to keep up with the many changes in the marketplace. However, as with anything, informed data can always improve any undertaking.
Research your competition, and find out these three key insights:
What your competition is doing better than you
What your competition is doing worse than you
What your competition is doing the same as you
Backed with this information, you should be able to create new marketing tactics and engage with your potential customers in ways you never thought before.
“The competition is always more fierce – even when you can offer a much better value, getting customers to try something new is an uphill battle.” – Josh Nickell, Saturn Security Systems