It’s Sunday evening and you’re not looking forward to the start of the week. You’re not a pessimist but you can help to feel a sinking notion in your stomach–it’s the feeling of torture of another work week. You’ll attend boring meetings, dispute unimportant ideas, and desperately stare at the clock–hoping to see 5:00 pm.
You’ve dreamed of starting a successful business but you didn’t feel capable. After all, you’re not a computer nerd or have any business experience. So, you’ve kept your head down and crossed this dream of your list.
But, what if you were wrong? What if there was a better way to start a business? Not only that but you’d generate a higher income than your current job.
The good news is that it’s possible, but you need to change your approach. I’ve also been in this dark place–not believing I was worthy of building a successful business. But after 3 years of experimenting, I’m finally seeing some success.
I’ve made countless mistakes and learned which strategies work from other successful entrepreneurs. My hope is that you avoid the long road I took and to learn from my mistakes. More importantly, adopt proven strategies from other successful entrepreneurs and avoid wasting time.
Here’s how to start a successful business–one that you’ll be proud of:
1. Build your business around your lifestyle
“If you fail to plan, you are planning to fail!” – Benjamin Franklin
Don’t fantasize about starting a business so much that you forget why you’d wanted to start one. Sure, you want the freedom to choose which types of projects you’ll work on–but don’t create another job for yourself.
Take for example an entrepreneur who decides to start their own pie business. This person commits and quits her job to work on her business. After a few months, she’s earning a sustainable income. The only problem is that she’s no busier than ever.
She works 60 to 80 hours each week and doesn’t know how long she’ll be able to sustain her business. This is the case for many entrepreneurs who fail to plan. Before brainstorming business ideas, decide why you want to become an entrepreneur.
Do you want to spend more times with your family? Or travel the world? Whatever your reason, be clear on why you’re starting your business.
Once you know your reason, start building your business around your desired lifestyle, not the other way around.
2. Don’t wait for all the green lights to pick your business idea
You’re clear on why you’re starting your business, now what?
Decide what type of business you want to create. Some examples include opening a restaurant or selling online products and services. Brainstorm a few business niches you’d like to explore (i.e. health, finance, and fashion.)
A few years ago, I was clueless about which business idea to choose. After stumbling upon blogging, I failed miserably along the way. My biggest mistake was spending months designing my blog.
The truth is building a blog is one of the most important things you can create for any business. It allows you to deepen the relationship with your customers by providing value. But it’s also time-consuming, making you prone to waste time as I did.
Instead, skip creating a blog and provide valuable content on an existing platform. This will help you determine if your business idea is something you’d like to pursue long-term while getting audience feedback. The best platform to do this is Medium for written content.
Jot down a few ideas and narrow your list down to 1 to 3, then focus on producing quality content. Once you’re confident about your idea, brainstorm how you’ll monetize it.
3. You don’t need business experience to get started
The best part about building a business is that the market doesn’t care about your experience.
If you can solve a problem, the market doesn’t care about a college degree or your business experience. Many entrepreneurs have built successful businesses without the help of their degree.
For example, Richard Branson quit school at age 16. Today he’s the founder of the Virgin group and worth billions. Bill Gates received his degree from Harvard 30+ after dropping out.
I share these examples to show that a college degree doesn’t make or break a successful business.
Instead, start a business on a niche that interests you the most. Chances are that you’ll have some knowledge in this area. Eventually, you’ll become an expert on the topic you choose.
4. Don’t invest any money in legal
Investing money in your business is great only if you’re investing in the right areas.
An issue many entrepreneurs face early on their journey is spending money on legal fees. For example, when they have an idea they start registering their business or pay for patents. This may have been the route a while back, but it no longer is the case.
Unless you’re creating medicine, there’s no need to spend any money on legal fees. Here’s why many times you’ll change your mind about an idea. You might discover that the type of business you’ve created isn’t one that you enjoy working in.
Wait until you’ve built a proven idea that you enjoy working in before you consider legal fees.
5. You don’t need to invest a fortune to start a successful business
A few decades ago, starting a business was an option only for those with enough money–this isn’t the case anymore.
The internet has removed most barriers, creating low entry business costs. For example, you don’t need to waste money on paying rent if your business is online based. You also have the opportunity to create profitable products (courses, and books) at a low cost.
You can build a website for less than $100 or spend a few hundred hiring a professional developer. Gary Vaynerchuk says that these are some of the best years to start an online business. Not only do you have low business costs, but you’re now able to reach more customers.
By using Facebook Ads to target your customers at a low cost. The internet is making it easier to do business for online and offline businesses. Get practical and spend only on what’s necessary for your business.
6. Surround yourself with all types of people
“You are the average of the five people you spend the most time with.”
If you’re an entrepreneur, you should only be around other entrepreneurs, right?
Entrepreneurship is a long and lonely journey. The truth is you’ll benefit being around other entrepreneurs and learning from others.
For example, your friends and family can potentially be your customers. Use this knowledge to test your product or create new features. Be willing to learn from everyone but also be careful with who you spend most of your time with.
Take my case, for example, when I was in high school, I began hanging around the wrong crowd. Being a good student, I didn’t imagine this would have any effect on me. Eventually, my grades dropped and I began caring less about school.
As an entrepreneur, similar instances can happen to you. Surround yourself with supportive people who’ll help you in your lowest points. Spend less time with those who don’t believe in your goals.
7. Learn more about other things besides business
It’s not uncommon for entrepreneurs to read.
Bill Gates claims to read 50 books per year, and Warren Buffet recommends reading 500 pages per day. So you should only read business books, right? Yes and no.
Business books will teach you more about running a business effectively but these shouldn’t be the only types of books you read. You’ll limit your growth in other important areas for your business.
For example, human psychology is important to better understand how your customers think. Reading fiction can spark creativity for you to innovate in your business. The truth is expanding the type of books you read will only benefit you.
Mix it up by creating a reading list in a variety of categories. Also, join book clubs to become inspired to read different types of books with others.
8. You don’t need to wait 10 years to see profits
It’s true, building a successful business takes time. But this doesn’t need to take 10 years.
To be clear, there are no shortcuts to building a successful business. But you can save time by avoiding common mistakes. The best way is by learning from entrepreneurs who’ve built successful businesses.
Listen to their podcast, buy their products, and stalk them on social media (not in a creepy way.) Master being a student and you’ll spot patterns that contribute to their success.
If you have extra money available, hire a business coach. Your other options are joining masterminds or business groups. It’ll be easier to succeed when you have a strong support system. One that challenges you to grow and helps you avoid common mistakes.
9. Focus on value instead of money
“Serve a million people—and serve them incredibly well—and the money will follow.” – Dharmesh Shah
Focusing only on making money can be toxic.
Many people have ended their life after losing their entire wealth. This doesn’t mean that wanting to build large wealth is bad; but putting money on a pedestal is. Instead, focus on a higher purpose.
When you focus on giving more, you’re more likely to build more wealth.
Gary Vaynerchuk shared a story of a time when he delivered a low-end wine to one of his customers during a snowstorm. He didn’t expect anything, but this customer’s wealthy son later placed a large order with Gary.
This doesn’t mean that you should give for the sake of receiving something. Give out of the intent to help others and experience the positive benefits. Studies have shown that people who give money away experience happier moods.
Focus on increasing profits for your business but remember to have a higher purpose.
10. Be fulfilled running a profitable business
Entrepreneurship is a lonely journey. It’s a journey where you’ll fail dozens of times. But if you want to live your dream life and impact other people’s lives, it’s a journey you’ll need to take. Imagine not dreading Monday’s anymore, every day’s a Friday.
You still have challenging days but you’re now more in control of your life. Although your income is increasing, that’s no longer your motive. You’re motivated by the positive impact you’re making to other people’s lives.
You’d started this journey wanting to build a successful business. Now you’re looking for more ways to impact people’s lives. To others, you look the same, but you know you’re a better person than before.
Wouldn’t this be amazing?
Stop letting your fear take over and begin taking action towards your dream lifestyle. You now have a mini-blueprint on how to get started.
Don’t waste time fumbling on bad ideas, building unnecessary websites, and learning alone. Instead, surround yourself around amazing people and invest in you’re personal growth.
It took me years to learn from my mistakes. It doesn’t have to be the same for you. Your business idea is waiting–will you have the courage to pursue it?