Being an entrepreneur will be a challenge that’s unlike any you’ve faced before. Unfortunately, the lack of experience is always scary and the consequences of acquiring it may be quite expensive. Luckily, you have a chance to learn from the experience of others. With that in mind and without further ado, here are five must-hear tips for first-time entrepreneurs.
Validate your ideas and put them on paper
The first thing you need to understand about a business idea is the fact that while to you it may sound great, the idea itself might not be as viable as you think. This is why you need to validate it before you start making moves to make this idea come to life. After you validate the idea, you need to start making a business plan. While you may be confident about your ability to keep all the vital data in your head, your investors and your team won’t be as thrilled with this idea.
Taking money means making a commitment
When it comes to fundraising, a lot of entrepreneurs just want to get their hands on the resources to make their dreams come true. What they don’t realize is that after taking the money, they’re making a long-term commitment that might decide the course of their business. Look at it this way, if you use your personal funds, you’ll be in dire financial straits until your business is profitable (which might not happen at all). If you get a loan, you’ll have a break-even point to worry about and an interest rate to deal with. Those who lend money from friends and family (which is about 38 percent of all startup owners) might end up ruining a long-lasting relationship.
Put your staff first
One of the biggest misconceptions of the business world, as well as one that’s done the most harm is believing that the customer always comes first. Needless to say, by siding with a malicious, unreasonable customer, you’ll alienate your team the fastest. This will lead to low morale and high talent abandonment rate. To avoid this, you need to put your staff first. Remember, you don’t have to be loved or even liked by your employees, however, they do need to trust and respect you. This means always keeping your word and always, always, always paying on time. Even if your cash flow is depleted at the moment, this is something worth considering payday loans for.
Two laws of productivity
When it comes to the productivity of your staff, there are two major laws that you need to keep an eye out for. The first one is Price’s law, which claims that only a small portion of your employees is doing the majority of all the work. Anyone who has ever worked in a collective (or even on a group project) knows this to be true. The second one is Parkinson’s law, which claims that the work expands so as to fill the time available for its completion. This means that regardless of how much it takes for a project to be completed, the deadline will always be a determining factor. This is why you need to be less lenient with your deadlines.
A successful business burns a lot of money
Being frugal is a good trait for any entrepreneur but being too frugal might end up being quite problematic. You see, a successful business makes bulk orders of supplies they’ll need in the future. It also spends a fortune on marketing, gives out employee bonuses and refunds their clients when they’re not satisfied. All of this money comes under operational expenses and unless you can drastically improve your cash flow, you won’t be able to do any of this.
Finally, even though there were times in life when you’ve felt overworked to on a tight schedule, but the truth is that this is nothing when compared to the amount of work that you’ll face as an entrepreneur. Unfortunately, if you sacrifice too much of your personal life it will be easier for you to lose it and burn out mentally. Also, keep in mind that you’re not pursuing success for the sake of success alone. Most commonly, you’re trying to create a better lifestyle for your family or achieve some personal goals. This means that sacrificing these things for the sake of your business might be more than a bit paradoxical.
Considerations for Managing Your Startup’s Financial Health
Finances play a key role in your startup’s success. If you manage your startup’s finances well, you can grow your business. Conversely, if you ignore your startup’s financial health, your company can collapse.
Whether you’re a financial guru or dud, you need to manage your startup’s financial health if you want it to be successful. To do so, you need to consider the following factors:
1. Initial Financing
Initial financing lays the foundation for success. However, there is a finite amount of initial financing at your disposal. If you do not manage this financing properly, it can quickly run out.
Track your initial financing and how you spend it. Oftentimes, it helps to budget your initial financing. It can be beneficial to invest these finances in different areas of your business, too. By doing so, you can avoid the risk of putting all your eggs into one basket and losing your financing in one fell swoop.
Of course, in addition to securing initial financing, explore myriad opportunities to fund your business. One such way is through a business loan or other grants to help keep your company afloat. Regardless of which financing options you pursue, weigh their pros and cons. Afterward, you can make an informed decision about which financing options meet your requirements.
2. Personal Finances
If you’re comfortable doing so, you can also use your personal finances to fund your startup. Although this may feel like a risky option, you may have more skin in the game, so to speak, so you’ll be more likely to keep your business on track. On the other hand, it can put you in a personal financial bind.
It pays to separate your personal and business finances. Any money your business generates should go back into your company. Resist the urge to take too much money for yourself to recover any money you invest in your business as well. Otherwise, this can lead to poor spending habits that can be costly for you and your business. Also ensure you’re managing your personal finances with a fine-tooth comb, to ensure there isn’t any accidental overlap or accidental overspending in any part of your life.
Try not to become too reliant on your personal finances to fund your company. Remember, there is no guarantee your startup will succeed, regardless of how much you invest in it. Instead, prioritize crowdfunding and other funding options. Then, you can get money for your business without having to leverage your finances.
How you monitor your startup’s expenses and spending can have far-flung effects on your bottom line. With proper accounting measures in place, you’re well-equipped to get the most value out of your money, time, and resources.
You can hire an accountant who can become a vital contributor to your team. However, the demand for accountants is increasing. To find a quality accountant, you may want to consider full-time, part-time, and contract professionals. You can use online job boards to identify accounting professionals who can perform budget audits, prepare your taxes, and perform similar financial tasks. Also, you can leverage your professional network to engage with peers who may be able to put you in touch with talented accountants.
Moreover, it helps to find an accountant capable of analyzing financial data and generating insights from it. This accountant can produce reports that highlight your startup’s performance and help you establish goals. From here, you can determine the best course of action to ensure your startup fulfills its expectations.
The Bottom Line on How to Manage Your Startup’s Financial Health
Throughout the process of building your business from the ground up, know that it takes time for a startup to grow. By managing your startup’s financial health from the get-go, you can put your business on the path to success.
Treat your startup’s financial health in the same way you treat your own. Much in the same way that maintaining a balanced diet supports good health, it can be beneficial to identify the ideal balance of financing and investments for your company. In addition, it helps to track your startup’s financial health much like you handle your wellbeing. That way, if you identify any financial health problems with your startup, you can address them in their early stages.
Ultimately, you need to take care of your startup’s financial health day after day. In doing so, you can put your company in an excellent position to thrive now and in the future.
6 Reasons to Choose Business Formation Services for Your Startup
Have you finally decided to chase your dreams and take your business live? Laying the foundation stones of a business can be a momentous experience in an entrepreneur’s life. However, handling business formation procedures is not.
Read on to find out why businesses prefer to take help during the initial steps of setting up and officiating their business.
6 Reasons You Need a Business Formation Service
1. Zero Errors During Business Formation Procedure
A new business must always stand on a solid legal foundation. For that, you should ensure that all legal procedures are handled with precision from the outset.
Business formation involves a series of steps such as verifying the availability of your business name, preparing your articles of organization, filing documents, etc. One small miscalculation could lead to large consequences. Even seasoned professionals can make errors while handling the paperwork frenzy that business formation usually entails.
A business formation service will handle your paperwork procedures entirely and ensure that no human errors are committed. From paying attention to small details while preparing sensitive documents to handling their delivery, a business formation provider will shoulder the responsibility with extreme care and finesse.
2. Get Valuable Advice From Experts
Starting out into the dynamic world of business can be daunting, and a smooth start could set the right tone for your business’s future. Setting up properly is probably the very first challenge you’re going to face, and there are many critical questions you’ll need to answer.
For example, do you need protection for personal liability? What business entity do you want to form? What are the pros and cons of different business entities, and which one fits the bill for you? What tax structure are you willing to follow?
Having experts to help you navigate you through these complex problems can be a huge bonus, as it will give you a thorough understanding of legal compliances, the laws that protect you, the tax structure you follow, etc.
Business formation services usually employ experts and skilled professionals, so you can rest assured that your business will be in good hands.
3. Get Complimentary Registered Agent Services
Government agencies mandate that all LLCs and Corporations have a registered agent. Also known as the resident or statutory agent, this is essentially an entity that receives tax and legal documents on your company’s behalf.
The point is to have a registered address that serves as a point of contact between your business and the government. For many startup owners, it is a problem to have a physical location in the same state the business was formed.
A business formation service can provide you with an agent who meets state requirements and can be trusted with handling key business documents.
4. Easy Preparation and Access to Documents
Business professionals usually frown at paperwork, and rightfully so. It is a mundane piece of task that needs to be handled with extreme care nevertheless. When forming a business, you’ll be required to file the following paperwork:
- Articles of Incorporation
- Articles of Organization
- Operating Agreements or Bylaws (depending on your business entity)
- Paperwork for licenses and permits
While filling paperwork, you need to have full knowledge of what details to fill, how to frame your paragraphs, common mistakes to avoid, caveats to pay heed to, and much more.
Business formation professionals are experienced in this and can assist you through the entire process with their knowledge and resourcefulness. Moreover, they can provide you advice and services customized to your business’s needs.
You’ll be able to access your paperwork and monitor everything during the procedure while someone else does the heavy lifting and files it for you.
5. Find Time for Other Important Issues
A new business must tackle a series of question marks- how to get its first customer/clients? How to gain recognition? How much investment to procure? What talent to acquire?
The list is endless. Any entrepreneur would much rather invest their time on growth-related matters than tedious formation-related procedures and paperwork.
A business formation service takes these initial mandatory tasks out of your way so that you can focus on growing your business. You can entrust the responsibility paperwork filing and legal details to your business formation advisors.
Their entire purpose is to take unwanted work off of your plate so that you can pay attention to other matters at hand, thereby enhancing the productivity and efficiency of your business functions right from its inception.
6. Work Smartly by Getting Access to Premium Business Tools
Business formation services seek to make the process fast, easy, and smooth for their clients. Competitive ones offer business tools that provide extra value to their clients.
For example, you might get access to smart document creation tools. If you pay for premium services, many firms will offer quick filing and approval speed to fast-track the process for you.
Be Smart With Your Choices
One skill that entrepreneurs need to work on diligently is decision making. Oftentimes, you’ll have to decide which business operations to run in-house and which ones to outsource, based on a cost-to-benefit analysis.
It’s usually smarter to outsource business formation services, as they can help kick-start your business and save you from getting overwhelmed by uncharted territories.
Customer Discovery: the Hidden Key to a Successful Startup
The term “customer discovery” might make you think of all kinds of processes.
Is it the part where you try to learn as much about your customers as you can? Is it the part where you go out and discover actual flesh-and-blood customers who will buy your products? Is it something else?
Turns out, it’s something else.
What Is Customer Discovery?
Customer discovery is a term used by two of the main figures of the lean startup methodology, Steve Blank and Eric Reis. They define customer discovery as questioning your core business assumptions. It is a way for you to validate your ideas and theories by going to the source – the customer – and a way to flesh out evidence supporting your product-market fit.
When Would You Need Customer Discovery?
In reality, you need customer discovery whenever you are designing a product or a service.
Let’s break it down into three distinct stages:
- You define a problem/market need (that your product/service is meant to fill).
- You develop a hypothesis about the solution (i.e., develop the product/service idea).
- You conduct an experiment to test your hypothesis (gather data from actual customers).
Yes, customer discovery is meant to validate your ideas – but it is more of a scientific approach than asking your friends, family, and coworkers what they think about your idea and whether they think it would work.
Let’s take a look at the four key steps to customer discovery, and see how you can use it to design solutions that fit your customer’s needs.
Step One: Come up with Your Hypothesis
This step encompasses stages one and two we’ve listed above: you are defining both the problem and the solution you are proposing to implement, and you are forming a hypothesis as to how the solution will impact the problem.
The best way to formulate your hypothesis is in a single sentence: my solution solves problem X. As simple as that.
You want to be incredibly specific with your hypothesis, and you want it to be accurate. Don’t just assume certain people have a certain problem. What if these people don’t see it as a problem?
That’s what customer discovery will help you discover, but in order to set off on the best foot possible, ensure you have a firm grasp of the issue yourself.
As for specificity: don’t just say, “I am solving the problem of lack of dog walkers by starting a dog walking service.” Instead, go for “I am solving a problem people living in this area have with walking their dogs from 9-5 by offering a safe, hassle-free, and reliable dog walking service”.
Step Two: Define Your Assumptions
As you can already tell, you were forced to make certain assumptions in step one. They may be correct, or they may be incorrect, and now is the time to write them all down.
You may be assuming that something is a problem (when, in fact, it isn’t), you may be assuming that your solution will help (when in reality, it won’t), and you may be assuming a certain demographic has this issue (which they may not).
Once you have your assumptions down, create a target persona in order to alleviate as much of them as possible. This is the person you are targeting, your ideal customer, the person with these problems.
Go into as much detail about your persona as possible, as it will help you ensure your data is sound later on.
Step Three: Test It out
Now that you have your hypothesis, an ideal customer in mind, and you are (in theory) aware of at least some of the pitfalls you may be facing, the time has come to test your theory out in the real world.
You are going to ask some people some questions.
The people you start with should be your potential customers. In our hypothetical case, dog owners living in a certain area, working 9-to-5 jobs.
Don’t ask people living in other areas, people who own cats and not dogs, or people who don’t own dogs but live in the area and work the nine-to-five. You have defined your audience – stick to it.
As for the questions themselves, you need to be very careful about how you formulate them.
You don’t want to ask, “Do you think this is a good idea?”. You don’t want to say anything about your idea, in fact. You want the people you’re asking to tell you what they would appreciate as a solution, and you are then going to build your solution based on their answers.
This is what customer discovery is about – creating a final product that matches the real needs of real customers.
To that end, your questions should be open-ended and not specifically related to your idea. Here are some examples:
- What do you currently do for…?
- Do you like the process?
- Is it working out for you?
- If you could improve the process, how would you do it?
- What is the biggest challenge about…?
- What do you like about it?
And so on.
The answers you get should help you outline your solution and make it a reality in the future.
Step Four: Evaluate Your Data
Now that you have plenty of data at your disposal, the time has come to go through it.
If you have done your homework well, you’ve likely discovered information you had no idea about previously. Someone has pointed out a solution or an issue you were not aware of.
This allows you to go back and refine your hypothesis and the idea itself, at which point you can do another round of customer discovery.
If, however, you’ve discovered your hypothesis was entirely correct, you can move on to product development.
Test out more than one hypothesis, and keep discovering until you are satisfied that you have come up with the best possible solution.
Customer discovery is certainly a lengthy and complex process, but it’s worth all the effort. It can significantly increase your chances of producing a solution that not only works but that is already sought after by a vast number of people. Consequently, your solution will be much more likely to become a success.
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