Long, relentless workdays. Stagnant wages. And uncertainty—will you get that promotion you’ve been working crazy hours to get or will it go to your boss’s favorite? Will you even have a job next year at this time? These are the worries that come with grinding it out in corporate America. Stay late, schmooze with the higher ups, put your all into every project, and there’s still no guarantee that you’ll land on top. In fact, you might still be sent crashing to the bottom.
If getting out sounds like the right choice for you, keep reading for advice on the steps you need to take to start your own wickedly successful business.
Don’t be bridled by your job title. Forget your job title. When it comes to thinking about what kind of business you should start, job titles are too limiting. What are your actual areas of expertise? How could they be transitioned into a low-cost business?
Follow the right path for you. When people think of starting a business, often they dream of coming up with the next Google or Facebook and becoming billionaires. But really there are two distinct paths to take when thinking about the kind of business you want to create. One is inventing something that’s never been done before. The other is starting a more conventional business like becoming a consultant, opening a franchise or starting a retail business.
Learn from the best. Look at what other businesses are doing. Explore areas that show growth potential and look to see what need you can cover that isn’t presently being filled in your market. Find a successful company similar to the one you envision owning, study how it started and how it grew, and learn as much as possible about the entrepreneur behind it.
Get the basics right. Will starting your own business be rewarding, exciting and maybe even fun at times? Sure, absolutely. But it won’t be easy. You’ll have to get a lot right to make it work. If you can get some basics right, right out of the gate, you’ll be off to a strong start.
Put it on paper. You can think about your business idea all day, but until you really get it all down on paper you can’t truly see where the strengths lie and what holes need to be filled. Writing out your business plan is the best way to think through everything.
Form strategic alliances. The saying goes, “It’s not what you know, it’s who you know.” And to some extent that is certainly true. But really it’s about knowing the right people. If you don’t know them, you’re going to have to do some networking to form the strategic alliances necessary to keep your business moving forward.
Put together a power team. Milazzo has always said she doesn’t believe in having just one mentor or taking advice from just one person. Everyone you meet has the potential to be a mentor. The big advantage today is that a mentor doesn’t have to be a physical person. There are tons of books, websites, blogs, podcasts, etc., out there providing great advice. Social networking sites like Facebook and Twitter make it easy to connect with people far and wide who know what you need to know.
Know that everything is marketing and marketing is everything. Having a great idea for a business is one thing, but if you can’t figure out a way to sell it to everyone else, you’ll be stuck. It’s all about marketing. Today, marketing is complicated. It can be easier and cheaper because you can do a lot with social media for free. But because it’s so easy, practically everyone and their mother are taking a piece of the marketing pie. So, it can be difficult to get the attention of potential customers.
Keep evaluating along the way. You’re absolutely going to hit obstacles along the way. That’s just the nature of business ownership. But you can use each obstacle to improve your business. Evaluate what’s happening at each one. Why did the obstacle pop up? If customers don’t seem as thrilled about your product as you thought they’d be, why is that? Maybe you’ve packaged it in the wrong way. Or maybe you’re targeting the wrong demographic.
Beware of “great” bad ideas. A caveat to the above tip is that sometimes things just aren’t working because you’re “great” idea is a bad business idea. No matter how much you chase after a bad business idea or how much blood, sweat and tears you put into trying to make it work, at some point you have to realize it just won’t.
Expect icebergs. No enterprise is unsinkable; the Titanic sank its first time out. Businesses fail. But when your enterprise has a solid foundation and when you run it like an experienced CEO, only an enormous iceberg can knock you off course.
About The Author: Vickie Milazzo, RN, MSN, JD, is author of the New York Times bestseller Wicked Success Is Inside Every Woman (Wiley, 2011, ISBN: 978-1-1181-0052-3, $21.95,WickedSuccess.com). From a shotgun house in New Orleans to owner of a $16-million business, New York Times best-selling author Milazzo shares the innovative success strategies that earned her a place on the Inc. list of Top 10 Entrepreneurs and Inc. Top 5000 Fastest-Growing Companies in America.
Image Credit: Forbes.com