Being an entrepreneur isn’t an easy gig. In fact, it can be extremely stressful, and the success rate is much lower than the failure rate. I recently asked fifteen successful entrepreneurs from an organization I belong to, the Young Entrepreneur Council (YEC), the following question:
“What is your best suggestions and piece of advice for a first-time entrepreneur?”
You can read their tips and suggestions below.
1. Live lean.
You never want to be in a spot where you have excess or unnecessary inventory and/or staffing. Stay focused on growing the business and don’t let the shiny objects get in your way. Start-ups are hard enough as it is, you definitely don’t need any unnecessary stress or distractions from things that you have complete control to prevent.
Drew Gurley, Redbird Advisors
2. Consider hiring a coach.
One of the best decisions I have ever made in relation to my company was to hire a business coach. Without my coach, Bill Treadwell, I would have more than likely closed my company down three and a half years ago. He helped me get my financials in order and helped me get on the right track to start growing my business again. Why reinvent the wheel when you can tap into the resources of a mentor or coach that has been there and done that already. A good coach will literally walk you down the right path, so you don’t make the same mistakes they did. What more can you ask for is the way I see it. It’s like having the cheat codes to your favorite videogame, except the score in this game actually counts for something real.
Ben Walker, Transcription Outsourcing, LLC
3. Plan for scale and success.
There are always two options in any decision-making process: the easy way or the hard way. While the easy way may seem to be the more agile, flexible and cost-effective solution at the start, these decisions may not work at scale and you may find that you have to slow down and go back to fix teething issues just at the point that you are seeing meaningful traction. Planning for success at the beginning can help avoid scaling issues as you grow.
Ismael Wrixen, FE International, Inc.
4. Stay focused.
There is nothing more important than focus. In your first run as an entrepreneur, it is easy to get distracted by the many different things you can do with your time and the many different avenues you can potentially pursue. However, it is critical to avoid spreading yourself too thin and to maintain an intense focus on a singular business objective. In my first year as an entrepreneur, my business partner and I spent way too much time working on too many different ideas instead of picking our best one and focusing on it. Entrepreneurship is hard enough — do not make it harder by attacking a new business without full focus.
Adam Mendler, The Veloz Group
5. Bootstrap as much as possible.
If you can make things happen with little to no resources at your disposal, you will be much more capable and prepared for the future, with lots of funds and resources available to you. Those who work hard and hustle early on and make things happen with nothing always end up being those who drive results down the line when they have everything at their fingertips.
Curt Fignar, TFSOURCE.com
6. Don’t fear failing.
Embrace failure as often as possible, learn from it and continue moving forward. Don’t be discouraged by it, but see it as an opportunity to learn. Move fast from those failures.
Dan Gaul, Digital Trends
7. Master time management.
When it comes to time management, there’s an incredible analogy from Stephen Covey’s “First Things First” that guides my planning on a quarterly, weekly, and daily basis.
Imagine a glass cylinder set on a table. Next to the cylinder are rocks, gravel, sand, and a glass of water. Consider the cylinder to represent the time you have in a typical day. The rocks are your main priorities, the gravel represents your day-to-day responsibilities, the sand represents interruptions, and the water is everything else that you get hit with during your workday.
Most professionals pour the water and sand into the cylinder first, so that the urgent gets in the way of the important. Great entrepreneurs put the rocks in first, so that they can focus on what will best advance their business and mission.
Dan Pickett, Launch Academy
8. Be patient — success doesn’t happen overnight.
Life, especially being an entrepreneur, is hard. The best tip I can provide any first-time entrepreneur is to remember this: the toughest battle you’ll face today is in your head. Work hard, stay focused and remain patient. These things take time.
Zach Burkes, Predictable Profits
9. Avoid giving up equity early on.
The best advice I ever received when starting my business was that giving up equity early on can be a big mistake. Finance your business in a different way and be confident that you’ll make your new business a success. Obviously, this advice varies depending on what type of business you are in and your goals, but for me, I can’t overstate how important this takeaway has been.
I was warned that in giving up equity early, years later I would be kicking myself for giving up a portion of my business. I can’t speak to the road not taken, but I can say that I learned to be self-sufficient in my business and trust in my strengths. I learned to hustle and do whatever it takes to make my business work on my own and don’t have to report to any investors.
Kyle Goguen, Pawstruck.com
10. Learn to operate out of your comfort zone.
You can still feel uneasy about something and still do it. It doesn’t have to feel good nor do you have to be in the “zone” or “feeling it.” A good example is talking in front of a crowd on stage — it usually feels terrifying, but I still will myself to do it and it has turned into new connections, leads, friendships, etc. Half of what I do entrepreneurship-wise feels terrible, negative or scary at the moment, but it all turns out to be worth it in the long run. Struggle equals progress.
Edwin Choi, Jetfuel.agency
11. Have a nest egg saved up.
Have money saved up. If you start a business, all profits must be reinvested, so that leaves little to no room to pay yourself. The art of “grinding” and living off of as little as possible is a trait most successful entrepreneurs mastered by necessity in the first year of their venture. To think that all business owners start out driving fancy cars and going out to decadent dinners is a common misconception. That is the goal, not the standard.
Marc Lobliner, TigerFitness.com
12. Be prepared.
Read the book Zero to One. Aim to build something that is a monopoly as Peter Thiel says. Expect to have to jump through hoops. Choose solid people to be a part of your startup, don’t settle because of time. A bad hire early on can mean more lost time than spending more time finding the right one. Be patient, but work urgently. Do market research, and test. Do it the methodically way. Find a mentor that’s done it.
Moshe Reuven Sheradsky, WeeDu
13. Do everything yourself at first.
E-V-E-R-Y-T-H-I-N-G. As you grow, outsourcing your responsibilities through training and scaling human resources happens fast — one of the biggest pitfalls for first-time entrepreneurs (myself included) was handing off the things I didn’t like or wasn’t good at without doing them myself first. Doing everything yourself allows you to build proficiency and an understanding of what it will take to have it done well; including how to design a scalable and sustainable process.
Nick Eubanks, I’m From The Future
14. Learn to adapt.
Fail big and fail fast. Fear of failure is what stops most people. Learn to adapt and continue.
Ali Mahvan, Sharebert
15. Never stop learning.
The only way I have gotten to where I am as an entrepreneur is by constantly learning about new ideas, trends and concepts — sometimes I revisit ideas that I have already learned in the past, to get a fresh perspective. I go through audiobooks, podcasts and digital courses every day. If I have free time, I tune into my iBooks and continue with my latest book where I left off. The knowledge out there is so vast and being in our own silo, we forget how much there is to learn. If there is a topic you are not familiar with, find a blog, a book or a digital course to learn more about. Make learning a lifelong goal.
Jean Ginzburg, Ginball Digital Marketing