You have a great idea that you believe you can turn into a thriving business.
Congratulations — you’re one of countless would-be entrepreneurs with dreams of making the big time.
You need to stand apart from all the others, even those you don’t consider direct competitors. Consumer dollars are finite, and a decision to buy product X often means deferring or forgoing a decision to buy product Y.
Standing out is easy in theory but difficult in practice. Still, you’ll have an easier time of it if you do these seven things early in your business’s life (and before your business is properly born, in some cases).
If you’re very lucky, you might be able to limit your entrepreneurial workday to something resembling a 9-to-5.
In five years. Maybe.
Starting out? Forget it. 5-to-9 is more like it. You’ll always need to be “on,” weekends included. The rest of your life won’t have to wait, necessarily, but you will have to juggle equally or more important responsibilities while you’re running your business.
If that doesn’t sound like your idea of a good time, reconsider. Better to pull the plug before you’ve invested too much time, sweat, and money.
Launching a business is really difficult work. Not all of us have what it takes. If you’re serious about seeing this thing through, you’ll need to dig deep and draw on your toughest, most challenging experiences for resolve.
That’s what the best do, at least. Like OpenGate Capital founder Andrew Nikou, who drew inspiration from a difficult childhood when he started his business on a shoestring. Or Oprah Winfrey, the media mogul who grew up without indoor plumbing.
Adversity makes you stronger. If you allow it to.
Your life won’t organize itself. And your business? Absolutely not.
Organization is personal, though. You need to devise and stick to a system that works for you. No one can tell you exactly how this system should work. You need not and maybe should not copy a scheme that works for someone else simply because it seems logical.
Focus on getting and keeping organized. The rest will follow.
Call it the ABDs: “always be documenting.” You know that you need to keep detailed records of business expenses for tax and accounting purposes, but what about conversations with clients and employees? Emails with vendors? Invitations to industry conferences? Late-night brainstorming sessions with your partner (or solo)?
Events like these tend to document themselves, to be sure. It’s a matter of collecting and organizing that documentation so it’s available if and when you need it later.
Know what you’re up against. It sounds easy enough, but you wouldn’t believe how many entrepreneurs think they can waltz into a competitive industry and seize market share.
No matter how much better your product is, entrenched competitors won’t give up without a fight. You have to beat them on their own turf. And that means studying up on them well before you announce your intention.
If you can get it done in two minutes, do it immediately. That’s the “two-minute rule,” and some of the world’s most successful entrepreneurs swear by it.
Ask yourself this: Would you rather take two minutes to put aside whatever you’re doing and address something that needs immediate attention now? Or wait until that single two-minute task becomes a day full of them?
The answer is clear.
If you’re fortunate enough to survive the pre-revenue death trap and carve out a niche for yourself in the market, you’ll feel tempted after not too long to take a breather.
Don’t. If and when you’re no longer locked in fierce competition with your rivals, turn inward. Fight yourself. More to the point, challenge yourself and your team to get just a tiny bit better every quarter.
These tips don’t make for a complete, magical recipe for entrepreneurial success. Unfortunately, being in the right place at the right time still counts for a lot in business.
That’s why entrepreneurship isn’t for the faint of heart. Luck matters. Sometimes, the best-laid plans can go awry, and the smartest people in the room end up looking like fools.
But these tips will help you skew the odds in your favor. Maybe not enough to succeed at anything you put your mind to, but enough to gain an edge over the rest of the field. Enough to have a fighting chance to make your mark wherever you choose to try.
Your opportunity awaits. Are you ready to seize it?