Wednesday, September 7, 2022

6 Keys To Selecting The Right Business Future For You

Free close up of two people hands, signing documents with laptop on table in office image, public domain CC0 photo.Most of you business professionals that I know have at least thought about or talked about starting their own business, to get more control, make more money, or to get more satisfaction out of their life. The challenge is when and how to make the switch to the entrepreneur lifestyle. As a mentor to young aspiring entrepreneurs, I often get asked for tips on a strategy to get started.

If you research the backgrounds on some of the most successful entrepreneurs, you will find some, like Mark Cuban, espouse the “go for it” risk everything approach to give you the motivation to keep going, while others recommend a more measured approach. I favor the more cautious approach, and would offer the following insights to help you make the right decisions:

  1. Join a startup or take a role in an existing business. In my view, no amount of academic education can prepare you for the challenges of running a business, but real experience will quickly open your eyes to some of the challenges, and let you know how much you enjoy responding to these on a day-to-day basis. You must feel satisfaction.

    Learning in school is primarily based on history, and fixed processes. Working in a business, especially a startup, is all about predicting the future, and responding to unanticipated changes, or new entrants. The ability to pivot quickly is a key to success.

  2. Check out local sources for coaching and assistance. Don’t be shy about networking for advisors with business experience for coaching and mentoring. Sources should include local startup incubators, blog owners, and government support organizations, such as SCORE. At this stage, good relationships are more important than knowledge.

    Every industry organization has regular local meetings and annual conferences for education purposes and bringing the right people together. Even if you are an introvert, you will find peers and experts in these groups to help, and your confidence will grow.

  3. Acquire and get familiar with required business tools. You can’t start and run a business these days with a working knowledge and access to online and standalone tools, including a word processor, spreadsheet editing, and presentation software. You will also need business management tools, such as Quickbooks, Zoom, and Hubspot.

    Traditionally, business software products have been specialized and focused toward a given task, but I see a trend these days to highly functional “all-in-one” business tools. Consolidated tools tend to be easier to use and cheaper than the old standbys.

  4. Assess potential for funding or bootstrapping. If you will need to supplement your own funds and assets for your business, don’t wait for a crisis to enlist family, friends, angel investors, or start a crowdfunding campaign. Raising money is difficult, even with the best idea, so don’t assume any entitlement to loans, grants, or seed funding.

    I don’t advise pitching to famous Silicon Valley venture capitalists for major funding until well after your business is a proven hit, and you are looking to scale it up across the country or world-wide. Remember that investors tend to fund entrepreneurs, not ideas.

  5. Write a business plan for your desired new business. Many of you will argue that business plans are no longer required for funding, but I assure you that there is no better way to quantify your own analysis of your value proposition, market size, business model, competition, required marketing, and strategy. You can’t keep all these in your head.

    In my experience, a good business plan should not be a book, or a one-pager. The best ones I have seen are about twenty pages, and cover all the key business issues, as well as your own background and experience, as well as co-founders and key team members.

  6. Establish a legal presence and intent via the Internet. Test your own willingness and ability to create a new business by creating a website, acquiring a domain name, and an LLC name that projects the right message. Make sure you can get consistent names on Twitter, Facebook, and other key social media sites. No presence gives you no credibility.

Remember too, that new businesses come in all shapes, sizes, and locations, from a single person service organization operating out of your home, to a small pre-defined franchise, all the way up to the next innovative world-wide unicorn. In my view, the tips listed here apply to all, so now is the time to test your fit for you own business, or just staying where you are. We need you to get busy and be happy.

Marty Zwilling

*** First published on on 8/24/2022 ***



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