May 24, 2013
I recently had the pleasure of speaking at a college to a group of students taking a class on learning to run their own business. While I may have covered some of this before, it still bears repeating.
1. Find a Mentor: Weather your a new business or an old business, a mentor is invaluable. Find someone that is successful in your field. Perhaps someone who is in another city so you won’t be competition for them. You’d be surprised at how owners, once they hit success, be come more altruistic. They will be flattered by your attention and will be willing to talk to you about your issues and give advice.
2. Skill Sets: You can’t do everything. Therefore be honest with yourself about your skill sets. Are you good at providing a service but not so good with numbers? Maybe you have an issue with selling? Do a SWOT analysis to find what you need help in and either hire or contract someone to help with these items.
3. Branding: Many people have a firm idea what they will do when they start out. My experience is that your main revenue stream may come from a completely different area than you first thought. Be general in your naming and branding until you have a couple years under your belt. Sprint’s name says nothing about cell phones. Target says nothing about retail sales. Remember that branding is way more than just your logo or name, it’s the service you provide, how you deal with problems, and how you treat your clients and staff as well. Your name and logo need not convey exactly what you do. If it does and your main revenue stream is different than you thought, you now have to go back and re-brand yourself.
4. Marketing: Develop a strategy that includes budget, who your target audience is (NOT everyone with a wallet), how to reach them, intended outcome, and how to measure. One size does not fit all when it comes to marketing. Most people put the cart before the horse in that they use tools their friends are using even though they are in an unrelated industry. This is a case where your mentor could come in handy.
These are just a few ten thousand foot ideas to help you get started or to help you grow. These are the biggest mistakes I see new business’ make on a daily basis. Lastly, remember to take time to work on your business, not in it.
Now get out there and look good!
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