Imagine being lost in the middle of the woods in a foreign land. Desperate to get back to civilization and starving, you finally run into a friendly stranger. You ask them which way to go, and they ask you which direction you're headed. If you don't know which direction you want to go, however, it wouldn't matter which way they direct you to.
That lesson above is the same as business. If you don't have a clear outcome that you are heading toward, then you will simply run around in circles. To ensure you don't waste valuable time, youth, and money, have a plan. It's okay if you adjust your business plan as you go on. However, understand what your income targets are, charity targets are, and timelines are. By doing this, I was able to shave months off the process of getting my first big clients.
Negotiating correctly is what sets real entrepreneurs apart from those who don't succeed very far. You don't need to be an expert in negotiating, but you should understand the basics.
One of the biggest pieces of advice I give to new entrepreneurs starting a company is to consider how to negotiate with investors. If you seek new funds, you don't want to give your company away. Practice your rebuttals in private so when you're in the room with investors you can confidently assert your needs.
If you're afraid to make cold calls, that's okay. I was too at first. The key to getting over that fear is to have a script. Once you know exactly what you're going to say, you won't have as many excuses to prevent you from picking up the phone. Keep in mind that a cold call can also be in person.
Email marketing is one of the ways I've grown my business since its inception. By utilizing this scalable technology, I have a direct connection with my customers. Whenever I have a great deal to offer them, I just send out an email blast for increased profits.
Market research is one of those skills that you need whether you start your own company or want to get hired by someone else. It is always better to find out as much about your market as possible before jumping in. Become a student of it. This allows you to connect with customers in ways your competitors can only dream.
When you validate a business idea, you know that you're spending your time wisely. I love to use free tools like Google's Keyword Planner to find out what search terms are popular and growing at the moment. I always want to be on the upswing of a trend. That way, by the time my site's built I've timed my entry into the market right on cue.
I specifically remember reading Animal Farm chapter summaries and other books when first getting started. It helped me to maintain perspective. When you read, you learn things from someone's viewpoint that you can apply to whatever problems you have. Leaders are readers, and that's not changing anytime soon even with the surge of new technology.
If you want to start your own business, it is hard. Don't get any ideas that you're going to be smooth sailing without any problems whatsoever. However, it can be made easier if you use the right blueprint. Hopefully, you can apply the techniques I used and get results faster in your first company.