When thinking about starting a business, there are a lot of questions that need to be answered. We tend to overthink about what to do first, then procrastinate what to do next, and worry about what to do last in order to climb the mountain of success all the way to the top.
Starting a business is a long journey, and there are countless paths that you can take to reach your destination. So it’s important to have self awareness and the discipline to know which path is the right path for you.
If you are contemplating a business idea, and are wondering what to do first, then we have created this article to help you take some simple but effective steps to find out if starting a business is right for you and how to pave your own path towards success.
1. Recycle Your Resume
Your resume is not only crucial when applying for jobs, it can also become a unique tool to help tell your story.
Your resume tells potential customers, vendors, bankers, and partners who you are as well as what skills and expertise you have.
Put Your Spin On It
- Use your current and past jobs as an opportunity to spin your past into new lessons or inspirations. Every job can probably teach you something, or remind you of something you already knew but didn’t pursue.
- Explain how your past jobs have prepared you for the journey you are on now.
- This can also tell a story about your vision for the future.
- You can really spin it into whatever story you want to tell, don’t be afraid to sell yourself.
Update or create your linked in profile
LinkedIn is still a very influential and powerful platform when it comes to making professional connections. There is still organic reach meaning that you don’t need ads to get in front of people who want what you have to offer (see #2 Below).
Benefits of Maintaining Your Linked In Account
- Access to its Powerful Job Board
- Broad spectrum of job opportunities and you can even apply to jobs via the networking platform itself.
- You can receive regular emails and alerts related to your job search.
- Ability to discover and utilize keywords from job postings.
- Offers the Benefits of a Personal Website Without Building a Website
- Personal websites are great for showcasing your brand while also highlighting your expertise and personality. Linked in offers a simpler shorter solution that is easily just as trusted & effective.
- You can upload a professional profile picture and write a personalized summary that showcases your unique brand personality.
- You can also access the “featured” section on LinkedIn where you are able to highlight your content like blogs and podcasts. So over all this profile should contain everything that you need to present yourself, and your brand with confidence, and clarity without all of the costs of a traditional website.
- Helps Boost Your Google Ranking
- Ranking on Google’s first page is becoming increasingly more difficult. But, Linked in with its trusted and powerful network, is sometimes able to boost your page higher in google rankings than a website or online portfolio.
- Google yourself. If you haven’t done it already, now is the time. See what pops up, because it’s a guarantee that other professionals will google you before ever setting up a meeting. Google search is pretty important, so we want to take it pretty seriously.
- Portable Professional Network
- Gone are the days of stuffing business cards into your wallet. Even though business cards have carried great importance in the past, they no longer serve the same purpose and often end up in a junk drawer or worse… the trash.
- Linked in is a better way to keep up with your professional connections along the way. Keep them saved in your connections so that one day you can quickly reconnect if either of you want to.
- Get a Peek Into Company Cultures
- Not only can individuals create and maintain LinkedIn pages, so can companies.
- If a Company uses the platform effectively, you should be able to understand a lot about them and what they do, as well as their company culture and the overall employee experience too.
- First to Know About Industry Related News, Events, and Opportunities.
- Just like any other social platform, there is a timeline where you can view content, news, and other media from those that you connect with.
- Here, you can get access to the professional communities of social media, that tend to share more networking and professional opportunities and related news.
So if you have held back on creating or updating your Linked In profile, then this is your little nudge to just do it!
There are tons of serious benefits to having a Linked In profile as an entrepreneur and if you aren’t in then you’re out, you know?
2. Learn From a Small Business
- Small business owners wear a lot of hats, and it’s hard to really visualize that kind of multitasking without seeing it first hand.
- Working in a “big business” usually means that you have a pretty defined job role, and your role is pretty clearly lined out.
- Working in a small business (less than 10 employees) is great for a part time second job while you are working to grow your business or even working at another company while building your business in your spare time.
- An advantage to working in a small business is that you are more closely linked to the top tier of the company and you can more quickly access opportunities to grow within the business.
- Getting a front row seat to watch another business can help you better prepare for the volatility of business and learn how to ride the ups and downs more smoothly.
- Go for job interviews. This is an amazing, cheap and clever way to sell yourself and your experiences. You don’t have to accept a job just because you attend an interview or a meeting. Interviews are great practice to learn how to pitch yourself and your services as well as improve your storytelling and interviewing skills.
- Interviewing with multiple people, or working in various roles can help you understand more quickly what you dislike just as much as what you do like. Just simply taking the time to be open to opportunities can help lead you down an amazing new path you didn’t otherwise see.
3. Take Personality Tests
Following your curiosities is one of the many powerful secrets to uncovering your true potential and passions.
Personality tests are our answer to the many questions that we have about ourselves. This natural curiosity leads us to want to have a deeper understanding of ourselves and the other people around us.
Personality tests are growing more and more trusted by professionals and are becoming a more integral part of our current recruitment processes.
Aside from the more obvious professional benefits, on a personal level it is really beneficial to know more about ourselves and each other in order to be more conscientious colleagues and humans in general.
While there is not one specific personality type that makes a successful entrepreneur, there are a number of traits that are bound to make you more naturally inclined to be successful in the business world. Some of which are:
- Risk Tolerance
- Visionary Perspective
- Empathetic Nature
- Innovative Thinking
- Disciplined & Determined
- Ability to Embrace Failure
Evaluate Your Goals:
It’s important to understand where your ideas and goals are coming from.
Try to think both in the short term and the long term, because even though business is a long term game, it requires consistent short term action to make it last.
Getting super clear on who you are, and what you want out of your life will help you better understand yourself and your ambitions to take clear concise actions towards your dreams.
5 Personality Tests that Encourage Personal & Professional Growth
- Enneagram: 9 Personality Types
- Type Finder: Myers Briggs 16 Personalities
- DISC Assessment: You In The Workplace
- Big Five Test: Score Yourself Openness, Conscientiousness, Extraversion, Agreeableness, and Neuroticism.
- Holland Code Career Test: Learn which jobs suit your interests, talents, and aptitude.
4. Ask For The Sale
I’m sure you have heard it before: Know your worth.
It takes some time to know how to price and sell yourself or your business. Everything is based around value, and value is perceived. So you can truly charge whatever you think that you are worth. Here are some bits of advice you should consider before your business sells anything:
-Don’t give away your products or services for free. Even if you only charge $20 to start out, you are at least gaining the practice of valuing yourself.
-Your prices are never set in stone- you always can and should change them as you grow and figure out the future of your business.
-Don’t worry about underpricing yourself. When first starting, your first sales are going to help you develop a system that works for you while also hopefully gaining some feedback about what is going well and what needs to be improved. This way, when things start to pick up traction you already have some basic knowledge and experience to build on.
-Don’t give away 100% of your products. Always establish boundaries and limits of the quantity you are comfortable with using for promotional purposes. Limiting the number you are able to give away, means that you have to sell the rest and that establishes more urgency which is crucial in an effective selling process..
-Lastly get used to asking for referrals and reviews. These can change your whole business trajectory if you receive good ones. Word of mouth is still the most powerful marketing tool around town, no doubt.
5. Find Your Financial Flow
Yucky finances I know…but this is probably the most important step you need to take when even considering starting a business.
As an entrepreneur or solopreneur, you will wear a lot of hats and you will likely have to teach yourself a number of things too. One of which is bookkeeping.
Bookkeeping for your business isn’t easy, but it doesn’t have to be so hard either.
Let’s Get Clear on Some Important Terms First:
- Revenue: Your Income before paying expenses.
- Profit: The difference of subtracting expenses from revenue. This amount is what you have available to leave in the business itself or withdraw.
- Expenses: Bills, and other things that you have to pay for to keep running your business.
- Fixed Cost: An expense that doesn’t change with changes in volume of goods or services produced by your company. (ex: rent, salaries, utilities, etc)
- Variable Cost: An expense that varies depending on what a company is producing.
- Equity: Money obtained from investors, or yourself, in exchange for ownership of a company.
- Debt: Money that comes in the form of loans from banks that must be repaid over time.
- Cashflow: The amount of money flowing in and out of your business. Free cash flow is the amount left after paying expenditures and free cash flow is a way to measure the profitability of your business.
- Burn Rate: The amount of money that your startup is expected to spend over a predetermined period of time, usually measured in quarterly or yearly cycles. A growth period rate pre-revenue. Ideally you can then continue growth from profits.
- ROI: Return on Investment
Track Your Progress
Many people hope to start a business in order to make an impact or provide value. Although how could we ever know if we are being truly impactful if we don’t have a way to measure our impact.
KPI’s are “Key Performance Indicators”. These are super important to get familiar with if you have hopes to run a successful business of any kind.
A Key Performance indicator is a measurable value that demonstrates the effectiveness of a company and how successful they have been in achieving their key business objectives.
What gets measured, gets managed. Don’t be overwhelmed with KPIs in the early stage, as you will start simple with one or two KPI’s and then gradually add more. Letting your data tell a story and help you make better decisions is the ultimate goal.
As you learn to track your progress using Key Performance Indicators, you will be able to establish more reachable money goals, budget, invest, and save more effectively.
Keep Things Seperate
The last thing that we want is financial trouble. So it’s important to keep your start-up finances separate from your personal finances.
By keeping your finances separate you will be able to better manage your business growth and make sure that you are staying on top of your responsibilities. In addition to that, it will help save you a substantial amount of time and money.
Having all of your finances go through a personal account, could lead to more confusion and more time communicating with a financial professional, which also means more billable hours and less money in your bank account.
As your business grows, you won’t want to be the accountant/bookkeeper forever. You will eventually want to hire someone to manage your finances and taxes for you. And I can guarantee that they will insist that your finances remain separate. So it would be best to just keep them separated from the start
Lastly we should talk briefly about Debt because statistics show that 8/10 people in the United States are caught in the web of debt, which is seriously substantial.
If you are able to pay your debt off before starting a business, it would be advantageous to do so. Although that isn’t a possibility for everyone, and different types of debt play different roles in someone’s financial situation too.
So when considering starting a business, make sure that you also make a detailed list of all debt that you have both personally and professionally, and try to pay off what you can before committing to a business venture that could require additional financial responsibility from you as you grow.
Now that you have a foundational understanding of start up finances, do your best to get comfortable with your numbers, and get super clear on what your business will accomplish, and how you plan to monitor that progress.
By keeping your finances clean and separated, and developing a system to monitor your progress, you will be able to start your business more confidently instead of cautiously.
Now, it’s important to remember that every business is different and depending on your business model you may have different steps to take in order to get started but generally speaking, these 5 action steps will help you get more clear on what exactly you desire to do, how to plan for it, and how to maintain it once you are up and running.
Do you have questions about how to make your business idea into a reality? Reach out to us and our community of business leaders will help you get the ball rolling.