Top 5 Things I Wish I Knew as A New Entrepreneur
By Rosanne DeTorres, Esq. of DeTorres and DeGeorge Family Law
Wouldn’t it be great if you could avoid the pitfalls faced by most new entrepreneurs? Have you launched a new business but don’t know what to do first? Are you working in your business but not getting the customers or building the key alliances you need to scale?
Often the most basic steps to building a business are overlooked by entrepreneurs at the start because you are too busy working! And this is understandable. For most solopreneurs or new entrepreneurs, you do everything in the business – finance, bill paying, collecting revenue, sales, networking, and then the actual work of whatever your business is doing. You are working in your business because you have no time to work on your business. But, if you stop and think about this situation carefully, you will agree that spending some part of your business day working ON your business instead of in your business will pay off exponentially in the long run.
Here are the top 5 things I wish I knew as a new entrepreneur:
1. Identify your ideal customer.
Who is your ideal customer? You can’t sell to everyone so don’t try. If you are all things to all people then you know what the opposite means, right? You become indistinguishable from every one of your competitors. Decide now who you want your ideal customer to be in a very specific way such as age, gender, marital status, income, type of employment, education, etc. Your business will dictate what demographic data points are relevant to defining who your ideal customer is. All your marketing and business development efforts should be targeted to these people. Once you define your ideal customer, then track whether your actual customers are your ideal customers. If not, then you have a different problem, which leads me to my next tip.
2. Be clear on your brand and messaging.
Who are you? What do you stand for? Why do you do what you do? How do you do what you do? Do the answers to these questions attract your ideal customer? Your marketing, your website and all your business development efforts should be consistently sending this same message. Everything from the design of your website and the artwork for your promotional pieces to what you say and do when making a sales pitch must reinforce this messaging. This messaging is going to tell your customers and audience what your unique selling proposition is and why you are different from your competitors.
3. Develop a 10 second, 30 second, 2-minute and 5-minute pitch for your product or service.
You never know when or where you might meet the person to help you take your business to the next level. When you have an opportunity to tell someone what you do, tell them! Your pitch should always start with the problem you solve and not what you do. For example, “I help people exit from their unhappy marriage,” NOT “I am a divorce lawyer.” Ask others to help you and have them tell you what problems they think you help people solve.
4. Get help from experts.
If you aren’t a technology person, don’t build your own website. The same is true for digital media and social media advertising. Let the experts handle it. Don’t know how to write a business plan? Get help. Don’t struggle through. Your time, energy and effort is better spent on drumming up business and operations. There are many business organizations and local colleges with classes on all sorts of topics relating to entrepreneurship. Take advantage of them.
Failure is always about learning and growing. Done is better than perfect. Just do it. You can always adjust your approach later once you’ve seen the effects of your decision-making. If you are cautious by nature, consider getting involved in a peer-to-peer advisory board where you can discuss your challenges and gain insights from other entrepreneurs about what worked for them. There are many such boards out there. One example is called The Alternative Board (TAB).