Starting your own business is exciting. Perhaps you have a unique idea and are ready to share it with the world, or maybe you are striking out on your own with a much-needed service to the community. No matter your motivations, as someone starting their own business, seeking advice from successful small business owners is essential. Use the wise insights of those who have succeeded as you launch your own business.
Have Financial Resources Available
Without sufficient financial support, even the most solid business plan cannot thrive. You will need to not only have your startup costs financed, but also a source of cash flow to keep your business growing until it's profitable on its own.
Many small business owners turn to venture capitalists for cash infusions. According to Walt Capell, president and owner of Workers Compensation Shop, "A venture capitalist gives financial support in exchange for a certain percent of ownership in the business. Some venture capitalists also offer guidance and advice. Some offer only operating capital."
Having available credit is essential for starting a small business. When Tim Delaney started his online business, Elma Wine & Liquor, a fellow small business owner advised him to open a line of credit with his bank, even though he did not plan on using it.
"Less than a year after opening that line, I had the opportunity to purchase good inventory from a store that went out of business for pennies on the dollar," he says. "It was still a very large purchase though, and having the line of credit available to move quickly and make an offer ultimately allowed me to secure that inventory and vastly improve my profitability that year."
Manage Your Time Wisely
When starting your own business, you may be tempted to dedicate yourself to the endeavor 24/7. But without firm boundaries and downtime, small business owners can burn out quickly.
Paige Arnof-Fenn, founder of Mavens & Moguls, a global strategic marketing consulting firm, appreciates the advice she received about self-care. "My advice is to give yourself permission to say no," she says. "Whether it means sleeping in (no to an alarm clock), getting a massage, taking a walk, or just turning off my phone and computer (no, I will respond later on my own schedule), simple acts of letting myself relax and enjoy the moment are the very best gifts I can give myself."
Managing your time also means trusting your employees. While it might be tempting to do everything yourself, delegating tasks saves your time for the work only you can do.
Cassy Aite, CEO and co-founder of Hoppier, says the best advice she can give to new small business owners is to delegate. "When I was starting out, I wanted to be the responsible CEO and do all the tasks in front of me, from PR to business development, all the way to cleaning the office," she says. "I realized after some time that if you want to scale, you need all of your focus on growing the company, while those kind of tasks should be left to people who do them well."
Take Care of People
As you begin to grow your business, you will interact with many people: customers, providers, and eventually employees. While simple advice, taking care of people the way you would like to be treated is essential to building your reputation. One negative interaction can sever that relationship but also spread through word of mouth to potential customers or providers.
Matthew Meier, founder of MaxTour, says this was the best piece of advice he received when starting his company. "Take care of you customers and they will recommend you to their social circle and leave reviews, all which will lead to more sales," he says. "Take care of your employees and they will in turn take care of your customers."
Although your resources may be scant in the beginning, plan to take care of your employees in concrete ways as your business grows. Tytus Golas, CEO of Tidio—a startup software as a service (SaaS) company that helps e-commerce small business owners grow their online stores with live chats and chatbots—recommends showing employees your appreciation for their work.
"A piece of advice I was given was to invest in the people," he says. "This investment means more than just spending money on hiring the right people for the right roles. It also means continuous investment in their growth: budget for education, conferences, courses, workshops, perhaps even coaching or mentoring."
Starting a new business doesn't need to be overwhelming. Relying on the wisdom of other small business owners will help you avoid common pitfalls and reach your goals more quickly.