What should all first-time entrepreneurs know before starting their very first business?

A good idea, alone, receives no rewards, and don’t expect any just because you believe you have a good idea for a product or service. I’ve been involved with 14 start-up businesses and have worked with over 400 business turn around projects and there are some lessons learned to share with first time entrepreneurs. And, I will apologize ahead of time for being so blunt but if you fit into this category you need to listen and listen very closely.

  1. The WISDOM of MISTAKES: You will always underestimate the amount of TIME, MONEY and EFFORT required to roll out your idea/product. Your progress will never move as fast as you think it will. You will ALWAYS be tight on money and you will initially never work as focused or as hard as you should or could.
  2. Write a Business Plan: Force yourself to write a business plan. I’ve written business plans for every business Ive been a part of. Sometimes i was the only person to even read the final product, but the process is invaluable. Do not use an online, boiler plate version. Find another entrepreneur and find out what they used. A business plan will force you to think through issues that you might not have considered before. It may even change the direction and focus of your idea. If you ever want to seek funding, I will guarantee you that every banker, Venture Capital manager, Angel investor or friend will want to know if you have a business plan. They won’t always read it, but they do want to know that you’ve taken the time to think this project through. You must ask yourself why someone should ever give you money just because you think your project is a good idea.
  3. CHANGE, the CHANGE some more: Be flexible and be ready to change. The idea you start with will seldom be the idea/product/service that you end with. If your ego won’t allow you to be flexible with your plan, then go get a job at a convenience store.
  4. Be READY for CRITICISM: Have a thick skin. In other words, be ready for the naysayers, the critics, the doomsday orators and particularly negative family members. You have to passionately believe in your vision. No matter what anyone says, believe in it. Again, if you are not passionate about it how can you expect anyone else to be. Believe me, if you are the least bit doubtful yourself, potential investors, bankers, advisors, board members and spouses can see, feel and smell your doubt.
  5. Learn to sell! No matter how you feel about being called a salesperson, learn to be one. If you don’t like it, tuff. Shut up, stop whining and put your entrepreneurial idea on the shelf and be happy that you once had a good idea. Every phase of being an entrepreneur includes selling. Selling partners; selling bankers; selling investors; selling customers; every phase includes selling. An investor usually won’t talk to you if you don’t (again) have a business plan and have already sold your product or service to someone. Do whatever you must to learn to sell or to hone your sales skills.
  6. SURPRISE: Allow me to be the first to tell you that you don’t know everything. Never stop learning or being willing to learn.
  7. WORK HARD: Finally, you must have a positive and aggressive attitude for work. An exceptional work ethic is absolutely required. If you’ve spent the last 10 years of your life in college, getting MBA’s and PhD’s, fantastic. But if you want to be an entrepreneur, remember that once you finish your college education, that is when you really go to school. It all means nothing if you aren’t willing to apply that knowledge. Remember, Knowledge is not power, the application of knowledge is real power. The world doesn’t owe you anything, but you owe it to the world and yourself and generations to come to bring your idea to the light and work very, very hard to reveal its value.

I work with entrepreneurs, business owners and executives every day. This is what I do, if I can help call or right today! I always offer a complimentary 1 hour business review consultation.

Make every day count,

Coach Dan

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