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6 things to nail before starting up a new business

6 things you need to consider before starting a new business


You can achieve your dream of operating your own business with less capital than ever before in human history. That´s the good news. The bad news is that you need to stay on top of a lot more things than ever before. The technical revolution is happening so fast and across so many different lines it is hard for any one individual to stay on top of it all and keep a good perspective. While you could build a business on a very low budget, it may be in your best interest to invest some money in the things that are worthwhile and that really make a difference. Let´s have a look at what tools are at your disposal, what your priorities should be, and what you need to consider to achieve startup bliss.

1. Dig where you stand. While there is certainly other ways to go about starting up a business, it is my experience that most successful entrepreneurs operate in a field in which they have a competitive advantage. That competitive advantage might take on several different forms, but I do believe it is necessary to give yourself the best possible chance of success. Ask yourself: is there anything I´m exceptionally good at? What have I excelled at during my younger years? What do I love to do, and more importantly what have I devoted big portions of my life to already? Is there an interest that stands out? Do I have a personality trait which stands out? What do my friends and family consider I am really good at? If you are younger and want to start a business my advice is simple: just go do it. I am confident that you would at the very least learn so much from the endeavor that it would be time (and money) well spent. If the business is successful that´s just a bonus. Whatever happens, it will be a fantastic building block for success later on in life. But if you can´t have the luxury of a potential “crash-and-burn” experience you should be looking to tap into your life experience and commit to a field in which you are familiar and in which you can stand out, preferably head and shoulders above the competition.

2. Put away an emergency stash. Being self-employed is a financial roller-coaster in most cases. At times everything is fine and the money is pouring in, but on other occassions there just isn´t enough to go around. In order not to let the financial roller coaster turn into an emotional roller coaster you need an emergency stash safely tucked away. When the rainier days appear you will be able to keep your long-term objectives, instead of being forced to make unwanted desperate shorter-term decisions. Being self-employed is stressful as it is. Do not let yourself be a prisoner of your last cash-flow statement. Instead, allow yourself to stand firm in the face of adversity and keep your eyes on your long-term goals. If you adhere to this advice it will save you a lot of worrying down the road.

3. Go to the mattresses. This phrase from the blockbuster movie The Godfather means, in its purest form, to prepare for battle and adopt a warlike stance. So what does this mean in business terms? It means go get your hands dirty. While you don´t need a lot of money to start a business nowadays, you still do need to put in a lot of time and effort to make things happen. Prepare for the worst and hope for the best. You might want to break down your long-term goals into daily short-term “to-do-lists”. That way you can keep yourself motivated even when you are overwhelmed by what needs to be done. As the riddle goes: “How do you eat an elephant?”. The answer: “A little bit at a time.” While it is good to have the longer-term goal clearly stated, it is neccessary to break that goal down into smaller pieces, and get as many of those done in the shortest amount of time possible. Start with the easy stuff. That way you will get a feeling of accomplishment, which will motivate and inspire you to get the harder tasks done as well.

4. Do I really need this? Ask yourself this question every time you are about to make a purchase on behalf of your enterprise. Most of the time, the answer should be no. You really don´t need that much to be in business. The biggest cost you will have is time. Time to get things moving, time to keep them moving, and time to keep it all together. You don´t really need a fancy office. But you do need a good work environment where you are allowed to work undisturbed for long hours. You can work from home, as long as you can get a decent amount of work done there. A home office with a separate entrance is ideal. Establishing ground rules with your spouse is of paramount importance. Work time is just that- work time! You don´t need an expensive office but a comfortable chair might be a good investment. Also your daily work equipment needs to be excellent. Personally I tend to put more emphasis on technological devices that help me do my work more effectively. This depends of what line of business you are in, but for me investing in a good computer, fast internet access and a smartphone is a no-brainer. Also I can honestly say that my Ipad (although relatively expensive) has enabled me to work more effectively and get a lot more done throughout the day.

5. Go digital. If you are not on the Web you might as well be dead. At least in the eyes of potential customers. The internet allows you to do some serious networking at virtually no cost whatsoever. It will take some time though, so you really need to consider if you are in a line of business that is suited for digital networking and internet maketing. You really do need a website. It doesn´t have to cost a lot, and in many cases you might want to consider doing it yourself. Learn to create a simple website using WordPress or some other CMS. Outsource the design to someone else. You might want to consider adding some content to your site every now and then to create some loyal traffic from customers, but again this is dependant on what line of business you are operating in. Twitter, LinkedIn and Facebook are all free of charge and represent excellent opportunities for the upstart entrepreneur. The writing is on the wall, the internet is making a huge impact on the world of business and this trend is still growing. We strongly urge you to put a digital footprint in place as soon as possible. It will only cost you a couple of hundred bucks and a bit of time, but the upside is tremendous.

6. Get your infrastructure in order. Your business infrastructure is a lot more than the furniture you keep in your office. I am talking about everything you need in order to run your business efficiently and at the lowest possible cost. The most important part of your infrastructure is your team. I am talking about all those supporting people you interact with on a daily basis to keep your business going. Your accountant, your tech guy, your suppliers, you lawyer they are all part of your social infrastructure and they can make or break a business in the blink of an eye. You need to have people around you which you can trust. Ideally you want to be doing business with the same group of people all your life. This will save you a lot of time, and money in the long run and it will enable you to put your focus where it should ultimately be- finding improved ways to serve your customers even better in the future. I have had the same support team in place for the last 15 plus years and the impact it has had on my business cannot be overstated. Save yourself the hassle and get your support team in order.

So there it goes, some things to consider before taking the leap. There is plenty more worth mentioning but this shoulg get you started, and more importanly, get you moving in the right direction. Good luck!

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