There is no shortage of advice blogs, books and podcasts about entrepreneurship these days. Sifting through all of this advice can take up valuable time and, unfortunately, not all of it will actually help you succeed.
That’s why it’s helpful to learn targeted tips from entrepreneurs who understand what it takes to launch and grow a successful startup. To share the good and warn against the bad, 10 members of Young Entrepreneur Council gave their advice for first-time entrepreneurs. Follow their tips when you need guidance to get you through the early days of your business endeavors.
1. Get A Mentor
One of the most important relationships a fledgling entrepreneur can have is with a mentor. A mentor is a trusted advisor who helps you grow professionally and personally by offering advanced knowledge and experience. Mentors often help you set goals, maintain accountability and offer encouragement. They can help establish connections that will foster business growth and provide constructive feedback. Look to your existing network to find a mentor. Ask colleagues for recommendations. Find someone using LinkedIn who is successful in their business and reach out. – Jared Weitz, United Capital Source Inc.
2. Follow A Process That Works
I would advise them to follow a process that works. There are countless businesses out there that are successful because they follow a system. This doesn’t necessarily mean following the system of a franchise or dealership. Join industry-related groups online as well as local, if applicable. Find some entrepreneurial mentors or coaches who can help you on your journey in your specific niche. There may be people you can hire to coach you through the process and along the journey who have already had the success that you want to achieve. Don’t try to just guess, but follow people who have already had success. This will save you time and avoid the trial and error so many entrepreneurs face when launching out on their own. Try modeling successful businesses and emulate what’s working. – Bryan Citrin, Chiropractic Advertising
3. Grind And Get Things Done
Grind. This might include keeping your day job while pushing with a new opportunity. It might include foregoing nights and weekends to push harder. Entrepreneurship is not a 9-to-5 endeavor. It’s sometimes 24/7. Second, seek out mentors and guides, but be respectful of their time. Most people are willing to offer thoughts, advice, guidance and connections, but can’t dedicate significant chunks of hours with what is probably already a busy and full schedule. Lastly, don’t overthink what you’re trying to do. Bite off something that you can do first, get it done and move on to the next. That might be individual tasks, but it might also be product delivery pieces. You’ll learn as you go and will be smarter for each part you start and finish. – Andrew Howlett, Struck
4. Have A Plan And Be Patient
Have a plan, love what you do, be patient and be in it for the long haul. The idea of entrepreneurship—setting up your own business, being your own boss and making a lot of money—can be seductive. However, the realities of entrepreneurship are very different. While all the glory can be yours if things go well, conversely, the risk is also yours and sometimes things don’t go as planned. This is why it is so important to have a plan and focus on something you really care about. Building a business takes years of effort and energy with many ups and downs, but if you have a plan and you love what you do, you will always be able to stay motivated and have the patience to persevere despite the inevitable bumps along the way. – Maria Thimothy, OneIMS
5. Be A Practical Dreamer
Have a strong, clear vision of the fully realized potential of your company, but create a business plan for the real world that maps out capital and labor requirements. There are a lot of dreamers who don’t execute and a lot of analytical folks who lack imagination. Entrepreneurs need to be practical dreamers and understand both sides. If you can show that you know how to “connect the dots” to your vision, you will get a lot of people to believe in you. Once you get those people who believe in you–employees, clients, investors and partners—don’t take the relationships for granted, and invest back in them. – Miles Jennings, Recruiter.com
6. Have Something To Fall Back On
If your startup doesn’t work out, you can fall back on something. That can be a side hustle, a consulting gig or simply going back to the job market. My first try at entrepreneurship ended after a year because I got a job offer I couldn’t refuse. Before trying a startup again I got an MBA and worked for large corporations like Microsoft to hone my skills. – David Boehl, TravelSite.io
7. Test New Approaches
You won’t make millions from day one. But if you persistently and creatively generate and test new approaches that will make you millions, sooner or later, you will find a repeatable model. It will be fine to combine “traditional” business and test new hypotheses. Moreover, it is the least risky way, if that word even applies to entrepreneurship. So don’t stop there. – Maksym Babych, SpdLoad
8. Turn Weaknesses Into Strengths
Discover how every weakness can become a strength, and how every negative can be used as a positive. Too young? Great, ask questions and bring out the mentor in people. Too old? Everyone loves to see someone shake the dust off their life and grow again. Too broke? Let it be the fuel for your dreams. Remember, so many of us are stuck in this mindset of writing off our dreams as impossible. Actively practice the opposite. Stay agile, stay positive and pivot like you’re in a boxing ring until you find an angle that works. It’s a beautiful battle to be a part of, and when you take the leap, the winds of assistance will rise to meet you. – Tyler Bray, TK Trailer Parts
9. Focus On Distribution
First-time entrepreneurs think about product; second-time entrepreneurs think about distribution. It’s important to perfect your product and offer something that people are really going to want. But it’s just as important to focus on your distribution from the start and really build your company around how you’re going to get customers. Without customers, you don’t have a business, but a business that bakes in distribution from the start will be much more customer-focused and deliver an experience that people will really get excited about. – Cody Candee, Bounce
10. Remain Consistent
For someone entering entrepreneurship for the first time, I would tell them to remain consistent if they want to reach their goals. Consistency beats talent because talent isn’t reliable and doesn’t guarantee growth. It’s only consistent hard work and effort that’ll get you the results you desire. There’ll be many days when you feel like slacking or skipping a day, but it’s important to remember why you started a business in the first place. – Stephanie Wells, Formidable Forms