5 things you should do right now to scale your new business
After all, it requires putting everything on the line for an idea that may not resonate with the market, and there are plenty of potential missteps along the way. The risks are clear: Half of all businesses fail within the first five years, according to Gallup research.
To help you avoid that route, we have compiled five important tips to keep in mind when you do decide to start your own business.
1. Study your competition, but don't overreact to what it is doing.
Competition is inevitable, and while it is important to understand your market - and the other major players in it - there is a tendency to react too quickly to a competitor's every move. Remember to play the long game. Focus on your competitive advantage (read: what sets your business apart) rather than slashing prices, badmouthing your competition, or completely revamping your marketing strategy.
That said, research your competitors. Follow them on social media, sign up to receive Google Alerts whenever they are mentioned, and consult new customers who have switched from another business. Just don't panic at what you find out - learn from it instead.
2. Focus on one definable goal every year (and chart your progress every month).
New Year's might be over, but it is not too late to set an actionable goal for your business. And before you say, "What do you mean? I have 100 goals!" remember that taking on too much at once can overwhelm you and make you less productive. So decide what your main priority will be. Whether renovating your store (e.g., painting the walls and getting new furniture), building up your presence on social media, or improving your customer-service skills, outline a plan of action for the year - and check in every month to see what progress you've made.
3. Find the right technology solutions.
When launching a business, you'll be confronted with a myriad of technology solutions. Don't get lost in a sea of products and services; choose the ones that make the most sense for your business and your budget. Start by tracking your week (or even month) to determine what your biggest pain points are, and then explore tools that will help alleviate them. For example, if you're having a hard time responding to customer e-mails, then you may need a service to help you stay on top of them.
Don't be afraid to ask plenty of questions before you commit to a solution. Know exactly what the service does and how it will benefit your business before you implement it. Whether it's mobile computing or network security, the right technology solution will enable you to focus on what matters most: growing your business.
4. Find a good mentor.
When you're just starting out, it is crucial to find someone who can help steer you in the right direction. A mentor can ask tough questions, help you avoid common mistakes, and lend invaluable advice, especially if he or she has been in your shoes.
Finding the right mentor will not be easy, but plenty of tools are at your disposal. Scope social media, LinkedIn, and networking events to find an experienced entrepreneur with the right background, and then find a creative way to reach out. It can be as simple as sharing a link with someone on Twitter and seeing where the conversation goes. After landing a mentor, be sure to manage expectations. Ask yourselves: What do you both want to get out of this relationship? How often will you touch base? If you're on the same page, mentorship can be a meaningful and productive experience for both parties.
5. Take steps to manage your stress.
Creating a company can take a physical and mental toll. It's not just the long hours - there is also the uncertainty that goes along with starting something new. That's why it is crucial to monitor your energy levels and be proactive about reducing stress from the start.
Before you dive headfirst into your business, create boundaries. Give yourself fixed hours (working around the clock will only lead to "entrepreneurial burnout") and carve out time every day to recharge, whether by doing yoga, meditating, taking a walk, or reading a book.
And while it is tempting to want to take on everything yourself, recognize when to enlist help. If tasks like building your website drive you up the wall, you might be better off outsourcing them. After all, time and energy are resources you can't afford to waste.
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