Top Ten Tips for Entrepreneurs

Starting a successful business can be very rewarding and lucrative. Unfortunately, most new businesses fail. To find success, an entrepreneur must be both wise and strategic when making decisions. With this in mind, below is a top ten list of great advice for would-be entrepreneurs.

1. Consider the Market First

One mistake entrepreneurs make is creating products they want to sell as opposed to products that people actually want to purchase. While you certainly need to have passion for your products, that can’t be your only motivating force. You should start off by asking whether or not a market exists or could exist for your product or service. If you want to open a skate shop, for example, you better make sure to do it in a location that is near a large skate park to sustain your business.

2. Test Your Business Concepts

While you may assume your idea for a business is a sound one, you should certainly make sure to perform the proper research first before launching your company. While the services of business consultants can be costly, you can do much of the leg work needed on your own. For example, if you are considering opening a location in a mall, spend a few weekends handing out questionnaires and asking mall patrons questions about whether or not they would be interested in your products.

3. Focus on Sales and Marketing

If you can’t attract customers, you will never sell your products. Before you launch, make sure your sales personnel has the ability to produce leads and convert those leads into sales. You also need to make sure you have a solid marketing plan in place that has the ability to inform the core demographics you are targeting about your products and services.

4. Create a Healthy Cash Flow

For any business to get off the ground and stay alive, you need a healthy cash flow. Without good cash flow, your company will never be able to produce a profit and will be quickly dragged under by fixed expenses. To do this, you need to make sure you are keeping your products profitable, expenses under control and the payment received usable within the time period you need it. While offering things like coupons and discounts can attract customers, it can also bleed your business dry if you’re not careful.

5. Record and Use Data

If you want to make the correct strategic decisions with your company, you are going to need data. Make sure to invest in at least a simple software package that gives you the ability to track sales, record customer data and transfer that information into a form that can be analyzed such as charts and graphs. For example, you may find that a certain product only sells at certain times of the year.

6. Always Look for Ways to Keep Costs Down

A healthy cash flow can quickly be wiped out by out of control expenses. With this in mind, you should always be looking for new ways to keep costs under control. This way, you’ll always be in the black. Examine every aspect of your company. Are the suppliers and vendors you’re working with being fair to you on pricing? Are you over-staffed in your stores or factories? Could you make your production processes more efficient? Keep asking these questions.

7. Make Conservative Estimates

When you are planning for both your company’s short term and long term future, you need to try to keep yourself grounded in reality. When estimating your revenue, keep the number lower near a more conservative estimate. Similarly, make sure to estimate your expenses to a slightly higher level. This way, your company will not be cratered by unexpected expenses or slow business.

8. Create the Team You Need

Many entrepreneurs may want to tackle the entire job on their own. While the business owner should certainly invest the most effort, it would be foolish not to take advantage of the skills and knowledge of others. Instead, you should be looking to create a team that can work together to achieve your company’s long term goals. Find talented and hard working individuals who can share your vision for your company.

9. Make Customer Service a Priority

While it’s certainly necessary to have a product that people want, you will need to be able to provide quality customer service to create customer loyalty. Make sure all your employees are trained on how to properly serve your customers and show them respect. Make sure to adequately address any problems customers may have and try to make them feel valued by your company.

10. Be Prepared to Make Your Business Your Life

Entrepreneurship isn’t something that should be attempted by the lazy and irresponsible. If you want to make a start-up a success, you’re going to need to forget about things like free time for a good while. To make your vision a reality, you are going to need to take complete control of the situation. Only ease back once you have the systems in place to maintain your success when you take time off.

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Overall, being a successful entrepreneur isn’t easy by any stretch of the imagination. Make sure you become knowledgeable and competent on all aspects of your new company well before the launch date. Also, never assume you know everything. To stay successful, you need to be constantly learning.

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