Let me first start off by saying: I know at 20 years old I might not seem like I have the authority (or experience) to list off 5 things you need to know before taking the plunge and starting your own business, but in my year and a half of building my company, I have encountered many obstacles that may have been avoidable had I read a list like the one below. Starting your own business is scary (terrifying, really) but you don’t have to feel alone. I hope that this blog serves as a resource for budding entrepreneurs to feel like they aren’t going through their struggles alone, and even feel free to share their own experiences in the comment section.
You’re going to have to make some sacrifices. Starting a business isn’t easy– if it was, everyone would do it. You’re going to have to give up things you love to do in order to make room for your new venture, and that may include TV time, going out with friends, vacations, and yes, even sleep. But this amount of time commitment is what a business needs in order to be successful. Think of your company like a flower– it needs constant time (water) and energy (sunlight) in order to grow into a budding start up. Half-ass the process, and you’re left with a brown and lackluster weed that’s not going to make it.
You’re going to want to give up. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve woken up at 6 A.M. (when my work day starts) and wanted to go right back to sleep. But in my case, if I ever decided to do that, I would disappoint the thousands of Newsette daily readers who wouldn’t receive their issue and probably unsubscribe. There’s also been those times when something terrible has happened, and I’ve thought, “Why am I doing this to myself?” But guess what, you’re doing this because you have an idea that you believe can change the world (or at least an industry) and your passion will move you past those negative thoughts. I promise, no matter how bad you f**ked up, it’s going to be ok. If you quit, you’re not the only one missing out, the thousands (even millions!) of potential customers waiting for a product like yours will be missing out as well.
You don’t know as many people as you think you do. When I first started out, I thought that I would be able to just write a simple Facebook post, and BAM, the networking effect would take over and I’d go viral faster than that white and gold dress. Sadly, that only works for cat videos. Take advantage of your network and let everyone you know about your new business to start, but then make a strategic marketing plan on how you’re going to bring your product to people who don’t know you and your twitter handle. Whether you set aside a marketing budget, or just recruit a team of friends to blast their networks as well, letting potential customers outside of your network will set you up for greater marketing success.
You won’t be making money any time soon. This is a tough one to swallow. You might be thinking, “But wait! I’m going to be the next Sophia Amoruso, she’s worth like $280 million.” I sincerely hope you are the next big founder, but even Sophia started out by dumpster diving for bagels and barely making rent in her early days. You need to accept that you will be working for free in the beginning, while you build your brand. For instance, if you’re starting a blog, you’ll have to grow your audience and write valuable content for months (even years) before someone’s ready to hand you a check. But don’t worry, if you put in the work, the reward will be amazing $$.
You’re going to need help. We all think that we’re superman when we start a business, but once you start realizing how much work and stress goes into your venture, you’ll start to realize you need to add some more superheroes to your A-team. Try to recruit any friends or family in the beginning to help you get the word out, and even reach out to that friend who’s a pro at photoshop to make your first logo (that’s what I did).
Were these tips helpful? Have you gone through similar experiences? Sound off in the comment section!