In the digital age, entrepreneurship is more accessible than ever. That doesn’t mean it’s a cakewalk, though. Here are 10 tips for success.
In the digital age, becoming a successful entrepreneur is more accessible than ever before. Anyone with a few bucks and an internet connection can become an Internet mogul if they play their cards right and have the patience and savvy to work the system. Our founder, Eric Porat, took a website from scratch to 70,000 visitors per month in three years and has since solddozens of websites for over half a million dollars.
That doesn’t mean it’s easy. In fact, it’s far from it. So here are 10 tips for success to get you started.
1. Plan, plan, plan… and plan some more.
There is no substitute for a solid business plan. If you think you’ve planned your business and market strategy out enough, you’re probably wrong. Analysis of your target demographic and competitors is especially important. Also, prepare yourself for any eventuality. Analyze any possible thing that can gowrong with your game plan, and then prepare an apt response. That way, when anything does happen, you’re ready. Keep track of your skills and weaknesses, what you offer, how said product or service is unique, and how you plan on growing your offering once you’ve entered the market.
2. Find a Mentor
Look, you don’t have to have an Obi-Wan or a Gandalf, but going at the entrepreneurial game alone is a Deathwish. Whether it’s a community of like-minded investors and entrepreneurs or a close friend or business associate who is more experienced in the market, having someone to learn from and bounce ideas off of is paramount to success. Learn from their mistakes and successes, so you can minimize the former and maximize the latter in your own endeavors.
That said, always trust your gut. If you’re following a shadow for your entire career, you’re never going to really break out and make it big.
3. Keep Your Marketing Tight
By that we mean tight budget. Marketing your business is extremely important, but it shouldn’t cost an arm and a leg. Remember, social media is your friend. Creating your business page on Facebook and founding social accounts on Twitter and Instagram for your business is free, and will also help your SEO. Submitting your website URL to search engines like Google and Bing is another free way to boost your visibility.
We don’t mean you need to be a stinge, but good marketing should work smarter, not harder. Hit the right demographic (there we go with the planning again) and you won’t have to invest in complex or costly paid media campaigns. Strong, targeted email and social media campaigns are much cheaper and more effective.
4. Build a Strong Team
Don’t get the wrong idea, we don’t mean hiring a bunch of overpaid “experts.” Just surround yourself with people who share your vision, folks who you vibe with. Everyone knows that starting a business with your friends typically goes wrong, but you do want to have stuff in common with the folks you work with, at least from an outlook perspective. Also, be open to new opinions and suggestions. You don’t want a bunch of mindless drones, you want a team of individual, critical thinkers.
5. Be Ready for Financial Challenges
Almost every startup hits the ground because of one factor: COST. Duh. Running a business is expensive. So be ready to operate on the cheap, and be ready for every eventuality. Deal with cash flow hits by saving a month’s worth of expenses ahead of time, or by getting creative with how you lower your overheads. As part of your business plan, be sure to give yourself an adequate runway for success. Things like SEO take time. You can’t expect to be turning a profit with an online business three months out, at least not if you’re starting a site from scratch. If you don’t have the cash to survive, there’s no point starting out. And at all costs, avoid DEBT.
6. Take Care of Yourself
Entrepreneurship is a lifestyle, but don’t work yourself senseless. When you’re running your own business, it’s really easy to forget to clock out. The days of 9-5 are long gone for you (if you’re successful), but remember to separate work and play. Don’t let your business take over your life. You may have to put in a extra hours at the beginning to get your endeavor off the ground, but in the long run, be sure to watch your time management so you can have time to keep LIVING.
7. Read Case Studies
As an entrepreneur, you’ll be focusing on your business 24/7. So, when you get home and have some leisure time, you might be tempted to play video games, read fiction, or watch TV to relax. Read case studies instead. Read biographies of successful entrepreneurs. Just do as much reading as you can about those who came before you, what they did right and what they did wrong. It’ll pay off in the end, trust us.
8. Take Risks
Humans are generally risk-averse, but part of being an entrepreneur is being willing to take risks (and knowing which risks are viable and which aren’t). Learn which risks will benefit your business and which won’t, and learn to go for it. Entrepreneurial endeavors aren’t like calculus equations. There is no guaranteed right answer. Sometimes you have to analyze the market and take a leap of faith. Everyone, and we mean EVERYONE, who has ever achieved real success has taken a risk.
There is no such thing as too much networking. Never stop networking, even during your free time. Don’t be one of those irritating people who never stops talking about their business, of course, but make connections at all times. You never know where your next lead will come from. You might find a new connection while grabbing a beer at your local bar, on a flight to visit your folks for Thanksgiving, or on a street corner. You might meet your next business partner in an elevator or a laundromat.
This doesn’t mean being annoying and constantly pitching your ideas to everyone. Just be human. Be organic. Connect, relate, talk with, and get to know people.
10. Never Stop Learning
This is critical to success. The market is constantly changing. You should be, too. Starting your own business is a constant process of growth and learning. Teach yourself new skills, from SEO to writing to design to management and presentation. The more you know, the less you’ll have to pay others to do stuff for you, and the more you can understand the inner workings of the market. If you want to get into the entrepreneurial game, you need to be ready to go 110%, and that means signing up for a never-ending learning process.
About the Author
Eric Porat is a successful online entrepreneur, investor, and digital marketer with over 15 years of experience in buying and selling websites.