15 Tips if You’re Starting Your Own Business

Zig Ziglar quote on EntrepreneurshipIn the past few weeks I’ve had several conversations with friends who are starting their own businesses. I think that’s fantastic and always have ideas for them. These tips are for people who have already jumped in. If you told me you were just considering your own business I’d have a different set of tips. When run correctly, businesses can provide their owners tremendous financial freedom. Run badly, they can suck up time and money. Here are a handful of tips to get you started on the right foot. I can go deeper and give detailed examples on any of these if you’d like. Comment below for further discussion.

  1. Getting Profitable Sales is your #1 priority. Invest your time accordingly. All other activities take a back seat to getting sales. Profitable sales. No time to surf the net. No time to watch cat videos on Facebook. You need sales to fund your new business.
  2. Build a website. You need something simple that describes who your prospect is, what you do to help them and how to sign up to learn more. Your website is your hub for collecting leads and disseminating information. Having a Facebook page is fine, but you don’t own that. Facebook changes the rules often. Don’t get caught not being able to communicate with your customers and prospects. You need a website on your own domain and you need a customer list that you own.
  3. Be clear and effective, not just fancy. This goes for your website as well as your fonts, logo, business cards, signs, office space, advertising, etc. It’s not about being artistic. It’s about profitable sales. After you’ve grown, if you want to spend frivolously on vanity signs and business cards for “branding” be my guest. Just don’t show me. I have an aversion to money being flushed down the toilet.
  4. Use a lead magnet. Lead magnets are used in online marketing to attract readers to sign up for an email list. A prospect will give you their email address in exchange for a report, infographic, video or ebook that you’ve developed to as a valuable tool for them. The same concept works offline. Create an informative video, report, etc. for those who come to your website or request a mailing. Then use a one page flyer or even a business card to attract physical contacts to your website where they sign up for the free gift.
  5. Set up a follow-up process for your prospects. Load their contact information into your spreadsheet or Customer Relationship Management (CRM) software. Send them the Lead Magnet. Then follow up with an email or letter. Give valued information several times before pitching a sale.
  6. Create ongoing relationships with your customers. Just as you scripted out a sequence of follow-ups with your prospects, you’ll want to add value to your customers. Put them on a regular mailing list to receive valuable information in a newsletter. Thank them for their business. Maybe a hand-written postcard. Birthday cards. Donuts. Or some other care package. The little, consistent touches mean a lot.
  7. Consider a reduced rate for guinea pigs. You’ll need to test your systems, find the flaws and streamline before you roll out your product or service in a big way. Find a few folks who will let you test on them as your first customers. Then give them your best. Give them extra love.
  8. Deliver amazing customer experiences. How can you go above and beyond what’s expected to delight your customer? Do that.
  9. Collect endorsements. Social proof is extremely persuasive when a prospect considers your offer. Now the extra care you gave your guinea pigs will come back. Get well-scripted endorsements from clients as quickly as you can. Highlight them on your website and in all your marketing.
  10. Publish content that your prospect finds valuable. Videos, podcasts, articles, even social media posts will work. The key is finding your ideal customer and posting content in places she’ll find it. You can probably reach your prospect through one of these channels: chamber of commerce newsletter, rotary club meetings, newspaper articles, trade journals, complimentary websites or blogs. Remember the content must add value to your specific prospect.
  11. Only spend marketing dollars in high-return venues. That means direct response advertising, not branding. If you use billboard advertising it must have a clear call to action (CTA) and you must measure the results against the cost.
  12. Test everything before rolling out (or nixing). Must businesses won’t get great ROI from billboard advertising. But that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t try. Test a unique CTA, measure and you might be surprised. Test newspaper ads. How many responded? What was your profit on those sales vs. the cost of the newspaper ad? If it was a successful test, put ads in other newspapers. Test the ideas you have that you “know” won’t work AND test the ideas that you “know” will be successful. Sometimes the exact opposite of what you thought works. You’ll be glad you tested before rolling out an expensive campaign.
  13. Find or form a mastermind group. Being around other ambitious entrepreneurs is motivating. Entrepreneurship can be lonely and non-entrepreneurs don’t understand what you’re going through. As I mentioned in the Mentoring article, be discerning. Not everyone in business is optimistic, helpful or strategic.
  14. Stay focused. Commit to 12 months of eliminating distractions and prioritizing success. Go all in on your new venture. Evaluate periodically but don’t get distracted before you’ve given all you have to THIS venture.
  15. Watch your checkbook. You didn’t think I’d skip the money part, did you? It’s easy to get caught up in the daily activities and ignore the unpleasant (for most) task of keeping up with the money flowing in and out of the business. Just remember…Cash IS King.

Best wishes on your new business. May it enhance your financial freedom and the life you choose to live. If you have specific challenges or struggles, feel free to bounce them off me. I love talking to entrepreneurs about their businesses!

Also, comment below if you have tips to add or questions about the ones I’ve listed.

Comments

  1. Jeff Sprowls says:

    Good read this morning and great ideas but also some good points to remember and make sure we are following if we already have a successful business. Sometimes we get away from some of these as the business grows, very good reminders. Thanks !!

  2. I am all over on this one… thoughts bouncing around…
    I am willing to be a guinea pig for some of your readers :-)
    I am thinking of ways this applies to the business I am trying to grow, The Lord’s business through our local church. We have been looking at, talking about effective advertising. There are some good points here.
    And I WOULD like to see your tips for someone who is planning to start a business.
    Thanks.

    • Enid, these absolutely apply to churches. And you have the added bonus of volunteer labor. If you have specific questions, shoot me an email. I’d be happy to walk you through some deeper planning. Also, you may want to grab Nelson Searcy’s book, Fusion:Turning First-Time Guests into Fully-Engaged Members of Your Church. Searcy understands the marketing side of church. He includes some good follow up tools in his book.

  3. Jeff Sprowls says:

    All good points and a very good information for anyone starting a business. I would also add these are good reminders even if you have a mature business. Out of all of these great points I really like #8, if a customer has a positive experience with you and continues seeing that with you, those are dividens that keep paying back. Good stuff Nathan !!

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