Startup business tips for success
Things I Wish Someone Had Told Me From Day One
So you started a business? Congratulations! You are on your way to taking back charge over your time and life and designing life your way. Entrepreneurship is exhilarating, but there are many traps you must watch out for. Today I will identify the top ones:
1/ Whom You Invest In
In the beginning, you should hire ONE experienced and vetted business coach (not a mindset/energy/manifestation/ empowerment/guru/social media expert type coach) who:
- has 10+ years of business experience,
- built a legitimate and successful business outside of coaching (this is very important),
- is knowledgeable in business setup, including legal and financial issues, marketing, and sales and
- does not force you to use one method or software but tailors a strategy to your unique business needs, personality, and work style
Here are some tips for hiring the right coach. Beware of hiring the wrong coaches. Don’t be fooled by reviews that are often written by affiliates, paid reviews, or clever marketing, which anyone can pay for to impress others. It is a big investment since coaches aren’t cheap, but nothing will sink you faster than investing your hard-earned savings into the wrong person.
Similarly to coaches, there will be a ton of service providers offering you their services from a whole array of prices. When I started my own business, I interviewed, among other people, marketing agencies, web developers, ad specialists, copywriters, SEO experts, email experts, social media managers, and many, many more! My 3 words: Don’t Do It. Wait until you have fleshed out your brand target audience, your service offerings, and your general messaging with your coach BEFORE spending a single dollar on any other services. Trust me, after working with hundreds of business owners, we rarely have enough brand clarity in the first six months and/or without a coach. Then anything you did may be wasted. Plus, managing others is a time investment you don’t need in the beginning.
Please don’t try to DIY your business! You may be hesitant to invest in a coach, but a good one will save you so much money, and time, I promise. And later, there will be plenty of time to hire more amazing people to help you grow.
2/ What You Invest In
Starting a business means having a million different things in your head and a sense of urgency to get them all now. Also, unless you live a hermit life, you are being marketed to with clever ads and envious promises every time you go online. But wait! You don’t need as much or what you may think (or be told).
Please do not buy any courses unless it is part of your plan with your business coach. There are too many bogus courses out there overpromising and under-delivering. Yes, good (and even amazing) courses do exist, so once your coach and you decide it would a worthy investment, here are some of the criteria to find the best course.
When you launch a business, you do not need a cool logo, a brand book, a fancy website, a sophisticated project management tool, or to run ads right away. IT IS TOO EARLY. Build your audience first and use all the free and low-cost tools you can until you hit 6-figures. Once it starts working, you will have the clarity to be ready to upgrade and use your own money from your business, not your savings, loans, etc.
In the beginning, please do not overspend on equipment or software! Your coach can help you with a list of affordable and reliable gear and also tell you which you can wait on until later.
What you do need right away, among other things, are:
- A registered business in your state with a business name (check first via research that other businesses don’t exist with too-similar names)
- A business bank account to get paid
- An accounting software to track business expenses
- An online payment processor (pro-tip: check with your accountable but usually all fees are tax-deductible)
- Register your business name website domain (.com, .co, .club, plus any countries if you run a non-U.S. company). I advise registering a domain name for your own name and later, maybe a different one for your business name (speak with your coach first to avoid purchasing the wrong name)
- A website host (use my affiliate link if you want to try out Siteground)
- A business phone number (I use a VoIP provider) and business mailing address (ask your local post office)
- Register one or two business emails for your domain ([email protected], [email protected], [email protected], etc.)
- An email provider and your first sign up landing page (use my affiliate link if you want to try out Convertkit)
- Set up your business name on all social media platforms with your website URL and business information (address, phone, and email)
- File a trademark for your business name if it is one you fear others may try to use
- A good, fast computer with a service plan and insurance, good anti-virus software and firewall, password manager and 2-step verification, and high-speed Internet with an Ethernet cable
- Other basic equipment investments: a good phone with a high-quality camera lens, a DSLR camera and tripod, a webcam, a microphone, a headset, and basic video, photo, audio, and graphics editing software NOTE: Deduct all of your investments as business expenses
- An Audible subscription — you will need this because readers are leaders
This list is not exhaustive. Please work with your business coach to complete it and make sure you are properly ready to do business.
3/ Time Management
This is a huge problem for new entrepreneurs who aren’t used to setting self-imposed deadlines, knowing what and how to prioritize and avoid distractions. How you schedule your daily routines has a huge impact on the success of your business. I run workshops and work 1:1 with clients to help new entrepreneurs plan out their day, week, month and set their business goals. Here are a few general time management tips all new entrepreneurs can use. I’ve also written several articles about some common time management and productivity killers I frequently see new business owners face:
3/ EMAIL MANAGEMENT
4/ Money Management
Do not, I repeat, do not take out a loan. I know it may be tempting, but businesses die every day. First, you must research, test, and validate your business idea. Then you will make enough money with your first clients to grow organically in the beginning and only later to re-invest money from your revenue back into the business. That is the smartest way. There are a few exceptions: you need an investment to be able to build a product prototype, or you are opening a physical business like a store or a restaurant that requires expensive equipment. Regardless, make sure you have done extensive market research and are sure this is a good idea, plus you have a plan in case anything goes wrong, like LLC protection and business insurance.
Do not outsource your core business. The best businesses are built by people who have that core skill or partner with a trusted person who does in clearly defined roles and shared financial risk. If you want to be the owner but neither you nor your business partners know how to do the actual work, there is a problem. Of course, once you have clients, you can hire people to perform sub-skills under the umbrella of the business but make sure you are an expert in the main service.
When you start a business, you must anticipate 6–24 months before you start generating enough revenue to cover your costs. Therefore, you must prepare a budget for how you will live during that time and live low. Cut as many costs as possible. Downsize, sell, and minimize as much as you can. Maybe you have a day job and start your business as a side hustle. Or you live with your parents and have no costs. Whatever you decide, make sure you plan well for the initial dry spell. But, in the long term, it is a good business practice to follow billionaire Warren Buffet who says:
“Don’t save what is left after spending; spend what is left after saving.” If you want to become wealthy, you must allocate some of your current earnings towards the future. By saving first, you eliminate the problem of not having enough money to save, at the end of the month.”
Read books on money management specifically for entrepreneurs. Note: the following list contains affiliate links, which means Amazon will pay me a small commission if you order them at no cost to you:
I myself fell into a high maintenance lifestyle, and it was a true wake-up call for me to lose my home and move back in with my family for a spell. My current philosophy is to live below my means and re-invest in my business and savings.
5/ A Well-Researched, Tried-and-Tested, Irresistible Offer
Branding is everything for a business, yet many new business owners fail to invest time and effort into creating an irresistible offer for a very targeted niche. In my years of business, that really is the recipe for success. I won’t lie that it is easy. It takes time, research, and adjustments to hit the sweet spot. But once you do, you’ll know it by your revenue.
The common mistake is to launch a course in a hurry without first working with hundreds of clients to understand their needs and the problems they actually struggle with, not the ones YOU struggled with or you THINK others struggle from.
Launching a course from day one is a huge mistake. This is the reason sadly many courses are mediocre. It is not because you aren’t an expert. It is because you havn’t first tested if your methods work for several different types of people. That’s what a course is, as opposed to coaching, which tailors solutions to the needs of each client. Some coaches are teaching students that launching a course is a way to make money quickly but I feel it is also the way to invest a lot of time and money into producing something way too early and untested and to ruin your reputation.
Instead, I advise clients to spend as much time as possible working with their clients and audience until they really notice a pattern and see similar problems over and over again enough that they know they have found the right material to make a course from. But wait! Then, it is imperial to develop solutions that you test on real people before launching. Try it out on a small beta group and gather feedback to improve. I like my first launches to be live so I can see first-hand what the reactions are and address questions. After you have run a course a few times live, then you are ready for an evergreen model.
6/ Lack of a Vision, Clear Goals, or Solid Business Strategy
Some people follow the wrong dreams, not their own, but a version of what they think will impress others. To succeed in business, you must have absolute clarity about your big picture goals and a clear vision of what you want your future to look like on a deeper level. That isn’t enough. One must set a business strategy like a boss. Unless you have launched a successful business of the same type before, you will need help. You must love your dream with everything you’ve got because there is a long, hard road ahead before you succeed where your North Star will guide you.
“You’re going to go through a time where you’re not going to make any money. It’s not going to be a week, it’s not going to be a month, it’s not going to be one year. It’s going to be years. And during that time, if you don’t love what you do, it’s going to be very hard to stick it out. That is something that people don’t understand when they hear, “Follow your passion.” They hear rainbows, unicorns, bullshit. But the truth of it is that it’s important, because if you don’t enjoy what you’re doing, you’re going to be that much more likely to quit when shit’s hard.”
― Gary Vaynerchuk, Crushing It!: How Great Entrepreneurs Build Their Business and Influence — and How You Can, Too
But goals are not enough to run a successful business.The heart of a business is the business plan. Surprisingly, many people skip this crucial step and try to go straight into making money. It is no surprise then when they fail. Every business must develop a full business plan, keeping in-mind that it doesn’t have to happen overnight. Different components may be eleborated on and changed, especially as a business brings on experts to help with the main areas of Sales, Marketing, Operaitons, and Finances.
“If you fail to plan, you are planning to fail.” — Benjamin Frankin
7/ Mindset Issues
The things that transformed my life and made me succeed as an entrepreneur were:
- Inner Coaching
- Mental Toughness and Resilience and https://kmollion.medium.com/how-losing-my-car-was-the-best-thing-that-happened-to-me-bdfe4cc8d296 and https://medium.com/the-sassy-chronicles/becoming-savage-1e9a3bc7e875
- Not Caring What Others Think/ Self-Confidence
- Giving up Perfection: https://medium.com/curious/the-blessings-of-imperfection-bf56c857d42d and https://medium.com/illumination/freedom-from-perfectionism-five-ways-i-cured-my-own-case-830743897b37
- Workaholic Behaviors that Lead to Burnout
- Conquering Waning Motivation
- Overcoming Imposter Syndrome
There is indeed a lot that can go wrong, but if you have the right focus and support, you can survive and thrive. There really is nothing more rewarding than running your own business if you are actually cut out to be an entrepreneur.
About the Author
Krista Mollion is a seasoned Silicon Valley tech entrepreneur, a career and business coach, a content creator, a Linkedin micro-influencer, and the founder of From Follower to Leader, a blueprint program to teach students how to gain influence using her methods to grow over 60k followers and made over 7-figures in Sales on Linkedin.
Krista built one of the leading experiential marketing agencies in San Francisco specializing in 3d and virtual reality and worked with leading brands like Apple, HR, Samsung, Google, and Lennar Urban to launch new cutting-edge products before selling her shares to begin consulting businesses in content marketing strategy, Linkedin, and small business strategy.
You can find out more about her programs here. Subscribe to her mailing list and podcast, Take Back Mondays, for inspiring advice for entrepreneurs and positive work culture, or, if you prefer video, subscribe to her YouTube channel or Linkedin, where she blogs daily.