We are continuing the celebration of the 10-year anniversary of RISE, the Regional Incubator for Sustainability & Entrepreneurship, by sharing ten useful tips for business owners. Especially those who are just taking those first steps to starting their business. If you haven’t had the chance to read our previous blog, 10 Reasons to Start a Business, be sure to check it out, too!
RISE supports entrepreneurs and small business owners in Erie and Huron Counties. We provide 1-on-1 business advising sessions, host an array of events through out the year, and can help you access the resources you need to grow. To stay up-to-date on our events, follow the RISE Facebook page.
1. Make a Plan
Put the pen to the paper and write it down. What do you want to do? How are you going to get there? Who will help you? Many people have great ideas, but the ones who write their plans down are a step ahead of the rest.
2. Ask For Help
You know your product or services and that’s why you started a business. You like inventing, creating, cleaning, repairing, providing, but you may not know how to actually run a business. That’s okay! You can ask for help. There are resources who want to help. Just ask! You can’t know something until you’ve been taught it.
Do your research. It’s essential when starting a business that you know the value of your product or service, who your competition is, and what you’ll need to market your product. Find this information and incorporate it into your plan.
4. Use a Mentor
Mentors people who support your business, but are also people who aren’t afraid to challenge you. You’ll need someone in your circle who can make you think critically about your actions and goals. Sometimes, you need to see things from a different perspective to figure out how it will work best.
5. Find Support
Network! Meet new people and create relationships with those who are rooting for your success. Having people you can lean on for encouragement and inspiration is key for entrepreneurs and small business owners.
6. Fail fast
You’ll need to “Fail Fast” or “Fail Forward” as a new business owner. If you make a mistake, learn from it. If you fall, pick yourself up, dust yourself off, and move on. You don’t have time to keep making the same mistakes. It’s your time and your money you’ve put into your business. How you react to failure will determine your success.
7. Think Big, Start Small
Or, the popular phrase, “it’s a marathon, not a sprint.” Building a business takes time. Time to learn what works well and what does not. Entrepreneurs are the dreamers. They often don’t have just one great idea. You’ll have to decide what to start with first and then grow. Of course, dream big, but take it one step at a time.
8. Communication is Key
You can sell a great product and provide a great service, but if you aren’t communicating with your customers or suppliers, you won’t make it far. You should be accessible, willing to listen, and able to share a clear message with those who will make your business successful.
9. Value Feedback
Communication is key, right? Good communication includes being able to listen. Listen to those who interact with your business. Without them, you would not be in business. We aren’t talking about the one customer who posted a rage-filled rant online about how you took 5 minutes to restock your donuts one time on the busiest day of the week. We are talking about when multiple customers say your website isn’t accessible or when a customer complains that you’ve consistently been out-of-stock on donuts multiple days in a row. Use that feedback to rethink and restructure how you are doing business.
10. Sit on a 4-Legged Stool
Our advisor, Jim, loves to share this piece of advice. The four legs include your Banker, Lawyer, Insurance Agent, and Accountant. These professionals are essential to making your business successful and you should be people you trust. Start building relationships early with them because when you need them is not when you should be reaching out to them.
If you still have questions, that’s okay! Contact RISE for a free 1-on-1 advising appointment. We want you to succeed because we know how important your business is to you and to our community.
Alissa Fisher, RISE Coordinator