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Tips For Starting Your First Business

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Starting a business can literally change your life. Whether you are looking to create a sustainable side hustle or build a full-on corporation, the process of starting will be the same. While it is often a massive undertaking, it can also be one of the most rewarding things you do in your entire life. Unfortunately, just the thought of starting that massive undertaking stops a lot of people from taking the plunge. If you’re thinking about starting a business, but feel overwhelmed or you’re not sure where to start, here are a few recommendations.

Let Go of What’s Holding You Back

If nothing is holding you back and you feel ready to rock and roll, go ahead and move on to the next tip. If you do feel like something is holding you back—investigate that. Is it fear? A lack of confidence? Money? What can you choose to let go of? What can you do to overcome what’s stopping you? How can you problem-solve?

Starting a business isn’t always as scary or even as expensive as people assume and you don’t need to do everything all at once. They say the first step is the hardest. Although that may often be true, it can also be the step that changes your life forever.

Don’t Skip The Business Plan

You might be surprised to learn how many people skip creating a business plan when they launch their first business. Some people find themselves burnt out from life and working a 9-5, so they jump in without a plan in place. Others find creating a business plan to be tedious or boring, so they skip it. Unfortunately, they also find out (often rather quickly) that this mistake comes at a cost. Going forward without a business plan can lead to low productivity, irrational decision-making and confusion as to where your business is going in the long-term. It also increases the likelihood that your business will not be taken seriously by others.

Having a plan allows you to clearly and concisely tell the world exactly what your business is and what it does. At bare minimum, a business plan provides you with a sense of direction and a mission statement that will allow you to make decisions for your business that are aligned with your goals, as well as your values. Be sure to keep your initial business plan clear and simple, allowing for growth and change over time.

Understand Your Target Market and Customers

Even a well-developed business plan can be poorly executed. Doing market research helps you understand the area you are launching your business in as well as who you are selling to. This research will also help you assess your own business in comparison to your competitors.

Looking at competitors in your area as well as in the broader industry can help you fill in the missing pieces when it comes to marketing materials, strategies, information-gathering technologies and more. For example, many companies have taken to social media to assist in their market research.

“With social media, you have access to focus groups at the tips of your fingers,” shares Elliot. “In the process of creating “What Do You Meme?”, we utilize social media by photoshopping together cards and posting them to gauge the reaction,” he continues. “Once we had that market approval, we wanted to move on to measuring purchase intent. Before printing any units of the game, we launched a Kickstarter, which was very successful. It was only then that we went to print.”

Learn from Others (Not Just Competitors)

It may seem like ‘Business 101’ to study your direct competitors for business insight, but you might not realize how much you can learn from the business industry as a whole. It’s important to pay attention to developments in the niches related to yours so that you have a broader sense of what’s going on in that world. You can use that knowledge to better your business along the way, setting your company apart as one that provides additional value to its customers. Keep tabs on developing trends and strategies in marketing, tech and other related fields. Ask yourself, “How can I be innovative in this market?”, “How can I use this development to take my business to the next level or to add additional value for my customers?”

Don’t Get Hung Up On Mistakes

Successful business owners don’t linger over their mistakes. When you find that you’ve made a mistake, it’s important to accept the reality of that mistake, quickly see what can be done to rectify any issues that the mistake may have caused and then evaluate what can be done in the future to avoid a repeat.

Protip: There is great power in writing something down. Create an in-house evaluation document that allows you to work through any mistakes or problems that arise.

Build A Team Around Your Strengths and Weaknesses

You can’t excel in everything, which means it’s important to know what you are good at and what you’re not. Having this self-awareness is going to help you build a team that fills in the gaps in your skills, knowledge and experience. Having a diversely experienced and skilled team is going to push your company along further than it could ever get with just one person behind the scenes. “One of the most important things I’ve learned about starting a business is how critical having the right people on your teams is,” shares Elliot. “It truly can make or break a company.”

Don’t Get Comfortable Just Because Things Are Going Well

The world we live in is constantly changing and evolving. Largely due to advancing technology and the launch of excessive short-form content, attention spans are shorter than they’ve ever been. This means it’s not always enough to simply provide a high-quality product or service. What’s worked in the past might not always work in the future.

An easy way to combat company staleness is to continue learning and trying new things. On top of what is currently working, consider:

  • networking in mastermind groups to keep up with changing technologies and developments
  • attend industry conferences
  • take training and courses
  • surround yourself with experts in your field and others

“When it comes to marketing, What Do You Meme?, we originally stuck to Instagram and Facebook,” shares Elliot. “While that was working well, we saw that TikTok was beginning to trend and knew it would be important to jump on the platform. Because we made the leap so early, we were able to test and see what worked well with its audiences. This led our brand account to gain a really significant following as well as a close-knit ambassador program with over 500 TikTokers,” he continues. “I strongly believe that if we hadn’t gotten on the platform in the early days, the company would be in a much different position. We’re following the same strategy today. Currently, we are looking at emerging platforms like YouTube Shorts and BeReal, for example.”

Have Fun With It

While the premise of your business doesn’t necessarily need to be a lifelong passion, it is a lot easier to stay engaged and excited about your business if you get to do things that you enjoy. A huge perk of being a business owner is getting to have more choices in your daily life. Be sure to add in moments for fun and joy wherever you can. It will help you and your team stay motivated over time.

Check out more articles about Elliot Tebele on his blog.

—Composed by a Staff Writer with insights from Elliot Tebele.