7 Top Tips for First-Time Business Owners

Being a first-time business owner can be exciting, scary, and rewarding all at the same time. Just because you have a unique idea, it does not mean your venture will fly. It takes more than great ideas to make businesses work. Here are a couple of tips for those who want to make their first foray into business a success. 

Putting up a business is not as simple as just selling your goods and getting a profit from it. Whether your new business is service-based or product-based, you now have financial, marketing, and legal concerns. You need to ensure customer satisfaction while at the same time take care of the bottom line. You have to promote your business, hire new staff, and As with all firsts, expect the journey to have its share of bumpy roads. But it will be a journey worth taking as you will learn a lot of things as you work on making your business a success. Here are some tips that may help you.

1. Know Your Competition

Here’s mega-entrepreneur Sir Richard Branson’s advice: “If you want to be successful in business, you need to welcome your competition with open arms—just don’t let them walk all over you. Strike the right balance between respecting your rivals and focusing on how you can beat them, and you’ll have a winning formula.” Monitor your competition. Research your competition’s products and services in the marketplace. You should always be in the know if your competition is doing things better or if their pricing can potentially affect your sales. 

2. Know Your Customer

When Magic Johnson transitioned from basketball to boardroom, one of his biggest business advice from experience was “get to know your customer.” So know how the minds of your target market work.  Are they more likely to use Instagram than Facebook? How do they like to spend their money? Understanding their needs is key to strategizing how you will make them need what your new business has to offer.

3.  Social Media Is Your Ally

Start a Facebook page about your business and promote it for less the cost. Everyone is on social media, from your friends to your mom’s friends, so it’s a great way to get you and your new business venture out there. Jimmy Fallon of The Tonight Show is often used as an example of how businesses can learn from celebrities who use social media. Fallon incites mass fan involvement with his #latenighthashtags. So remember to use hashtags to engage and grow your online presence.

4.  Master Your Elevator Pitch

Michelle Van Slyke is SVP of Marketing and Sales for The UPS Store, Inc. which provides small business solutions to entrepreneurs and small business owners across the United States. She says an elevator pitch is a powerful tool that allows you to quickly spark interest in your business. So learn to pitch your business in 30 seconds. You never know when you could run into a potential investor or an interested customer. Be ready to clearly state your mission, goals, and what makes your product or service compelling and unique.

5.  Do What You Know, Love What You Do

Pick a business that you are passionate about and one where you are extremely knowledgeable.  Scott Gerber, American serial entrepreneur, author of Never Get A “Real” Job, and founder of the Young Entrepreneur Council, says a business built around your strengths and talents will have a greater chance of success.

6.  Start With the End in Mind.

John Bly, managing partner at LBA Haynes Strand, one of the fastest growing accounting firms in North Carolina, says that you need to be crystal clear about what you want to get out of your business. Is it about making enough money to afford retirement at 40? Or just extra income on the side? Keep your goal in mind so you make the right business decisions.

7.  Get Your Accounting Properly Organized

Kirk Simpson is co-founder and CEO of Wave Accounting, his third start-up. He says, “accounting is one of those back-office tasks that never cross your mind when you decide to run your own business, and yet it sucks up your day and makes running a successful business that much harder. But there's hope, and it starts with getting organized.” Proper accounting is critical. Be on top of all your expenses, income, and balance sheet. Keep good records of your financials on a daily, weekly and monthly basis.