There’s no sugarcoating the fact that starting your own business involves lots of risk. After all, one-fourth of startups close within their first year. Many entrepreneurs are in debt for years until their business starts to take off, if they ever make it that far.
Don’t let this discourage you though. By taking careful precautions, you can set yourself up for ongoing success.
If you are considering stepping out from your current career to start your own business, don’t do it without a bulletproof plan. Turning side business ideas into a full-time career is arguably one of the most admirable goals out there. While many dream of running their own company, only a few are willing to make the big sacrifices necessary.
1. Do it for the Right Reasons
Before you dive into an entrepreneurial endeavor, be sure that your expectations and mindset are in the right place. Of course, there are hundreds of inspiring success stories of innovators who gave up everything to pursue their idea. However, the sad reality is that most entrepreneurs (even the ultimately successful ones) do experience failure, at one point or another.
Take Ariana Huffington, founder of the Huffington Post, for example. Her first writing efforts were less than stellar. In fact, her book was rejected by 36 publishing companies before she eventually founded one of the most read news and blog sites in the United States. She refused to give up and she firmly believed in her skills, no matter how many times she was turned down. In order to succeed, every entrepreneur must be able to cultivate this mentality.
If you want your startup idea to thrive, it is imperative that you set goals and develop the necessary mentality beforehand. Since entrepreneurs face such difficulty, they must be sure they have the drive to keep going, even when things get tough. If you are leaving your 9-5 job behind, make sure that you and your family are ready for those types of sacrifices. Giving up the security of a steady income, along with the benefits it may provide, is a huge risk. But, the payoff of being your own boss can be incredible.
2. Test the Waters
Before the wheels start to turn, you need to be certain that your startup idea has a customer base that will be large enough to support your financial goals. Focusing on a niche audience is a great way to start off as an entrepreneur. However, being too narrowly focused can diminish the number of potential customers.
Test the market before diving in head first by starting small and scaling up from there. Starting off as a part-time entrepreneur is a great way to get a feel for the new lifestyle you are looking to pursue.
As you’re most likely aware, in-depth market research is essential for launching a business. You will need to know the exact demographics of your target audience in order to get a feel for how you will position your marketing efforts.
Conducting surveys is a great way to get an idea of the general acceptance and interest levels. It can also help you better define your target audience. For instance, let’s say your new business idea is an online food company. Asking participants about their online shopping habits is a great way to learn what kind of demand you would have, as well as how to promote your messaging.
Focus on Branding First
Building a strong personal brand before launching your next startup is one way to create new opportunities for yourself and your business. Focus on positioning yourself as a thought leader or expert on a niche topic that you have personal interest and experience in.
Neil Patel is a great example of how to use your personal brand to propel a business. He used his experiences to position himself as a leader in the digital marketing and SEO sector. He founded several well-known businesses, such as Crazy Egg and KISSmetrics, but his own personal blog is what truly helped him launch such a successful career.
Starting a blog is a great way to begin this type of executive branding. You will also need to understand how to use social media effectively in developing your personal brand. By getting your name out there and producing content related to your industry, you can start generating valuable links that will lead readers to your new company website.
Find a Mentor
Leadership incompetence and lack of experience are among the top causes of business failure, with 77% of failed startups placing the blame on these factors.
While many entrepreneurs opt to learn along the way, there is no reason to figure everything out on your own. Partnering with an experienced mentor can make all the difference in terms of the outcome of your entrepreneurial career. Oprah Winfrey attributes much of her success to the support and guidance of her mentor, Maya Angelou. Mark Zuckerberg credited Steve Jobs as an instrumental guide and teacher in his life.
There is no shame in asking for help or suggestions from more experienced entrepreneurs. Learning from their victories and failures could potentially save your business from total disaster down the road. Don’t be afraid to reach out to someone you know or admire who has experience starting their own business, and ask if they would consider mentoring you.
Entrepreneurship is full of risks, but it is also full of rewards. There is a lot of excitement that comes along with the idea and desire to begin this journey, but it is important to make wise choices and set up a smart safety net before you jump into doing it full-time.
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