We’ve all heard that business success takes a lot of grit, determination, and hard work—but it often also includes mistakes, oversights, and setbacks along the way. Often, we only see entrepreneurial success after the fact and not the struggles the person faced in the beginning. Business success isn’t about being able to avoid setbacks and struggles completely; it’s about managing them the best you can. If you’re just starting out in business, here are 10 important keys to success as an entrepreneur!
1. Have a Plan
If you need funding from a bank or investor, chances are you’ll have to have a detailed business plan, complete with market research. But even if you have your own seed money, creating a plan will help you learn about the market you’re starting out in and narrow your focus. Having a business plan will also help you figure out whether or not you’re on track down the road, since you’ll be able to compare your plan to your current course. If your plan was unrealistic, you can then adjust your future projections according to how your previous plan compared to reality.
2. Keep Organized
Having systems in place for paperwork, client contacts, financial information, project management, and marketing will help you immensely by saving time you might otherwise be using to hunt down documents. Technology is your friend when it comes to keeping organized—accounting software like Billomat, for example, will help you save digital copies of receipts so you can track your expenses efficiently along with your other financial information. Syncing Billomat to project management, CRM, and other tools will help you keep all your information in one place.
You never know when you’ll meet someone who can help you in business, but going to conferences, trade shows, and other industry events will significantly improve your chances. Networking isn’t just for new business owners, either; it’s important to keep meeting people in your industry throughout your career to help you keep up with the latest in your industry. Networking has the added bonus of helping entrepreneurship feel less lonely and learning from the struggles of others can be equally as valuable as learning from your own.
4. Don’t be a Perfectionist
A lot of people who want to start a business have a big dream or genius idea that they keep perfecting, never getting past the planning stages. If you’re new to business, it can feel impossible to take that first step, but the first step is the most important one—and often you will have to take it before you feel ready to. Plans are important, but too much planning can also be a downfall. You’ll learn much more by doing, and by your subsequent mistakes, than you ever will by endless research and planning.
5. Have a Marketing Strategy
A manageable marketing strategy that reaches at least some of your target customers is better than trying every marketing trick all at once. Focus on one or two things you feel comfortable with and build from there. For example, at a minimum, you should have a website with business email and a few social media accounts. If you start with that and post regularly to social media, you’ll convey professionalism and can gradually start with paid advertising or other strategies from there.
6. Keep Doing Market Research
Even after you get your business up and running, you should keep an eye on industry trends. Choose a few blogs to follow or a few conferences to attend so you keep up with new developments in your line of work. Many business owners make the mistake of thinking that once they get the ball rolling, it will keep rolling forever—but that’s not true! Running a business requires you to be flexible enough to keep up with the times, which are changing faster than ever.
7. Learn to Love Your Numbers
Even if you don’t love accounting right now, your own numbers will be much more interesting once you learn what they mean. If you’re using accounting software like Billomat, get to know what your monthly financial reports are telling you. It will be that much more exciting to watch your business grow when you have concrete evidence that you’re succeeding!
8. Start Small
While you might have a grand vision to aim for as an ultimate goal, make sure you also have smaller goals that are achievable right out of the gate. Aiming too high is a recipe for failure and disappointment; instead, try to create goals that are realistic and achievable. Doing so will create a feeling of accomplishment that will propel you forward to move onto the next step.
9. Learn How to Manage Your Time
Keeping a regular schedule is a fundamental life skill that’s even more important when you’re working for yourself. If you find you never have enough time in the day to get things done, it means one of two things: either you’re spending more time on minor things than you thought you were, or you tend to underestimate how much time various tasks take you. Either way, keeping track of how much time you’re spending on things with a time-tracker app will help you make a realistic schedule for yourself.
10. Keep Trying
Above all else, keep trying. Before you decide that entrepreneurship isn’t for you, ask yourself if you can learn something about your mistakes, change your course, or develop different habits that will set you up for business success. Try to find a mentor in your field you can turn to for advice and take a look at industry-specific advice online from others doing similar things. Everyone makes mistakes and has setbacks, but not everyone learns from them and tries something new. Being able to dust yourself off and try again is important in all aspects of life, but especially important in business.
While some of these things might take a while to master, turning them into habits will make it much easier to succeed in business. Having a good idea or skill is only the first step; being able to execute them properly is what makes a true entrepreneur.