9 things you should know before starting a small business
- There's more to starting a business than just money and a good idea.
- Entrepreneurs with successful startups say you need to find a good accountant, have a diverse team, and find your niche.
- Here are 9 pieces of advice on how to start a new business.
- Visit Business Insider's homepage for more stories.
Starting your own business doesn't just take money and a good idea.
There are dozens of small things to keep in mind before calling yourself an entrepreneur: Have you found a good accountant? What's your niche? Who are you bringing onto your project?
Read more: 8 startups helping moms get back to work after having kids
There's no better place to seek advice on how to launch a startup than from other successful entrepreneurs. Business Insider rounded up eight solid pieces of advice on how to start your own business, according to successful entrepreneurs.
Figure out how you're going to finance the company.
To start a business, you need money for licenses, equipment, software, legal fees, operating expenses, and more. You can consider financing your company from outside investors, says entrepreneur Jayson DeMers. Potential sources include your friends and family, angel investors or venture capitalists, or crowdfunding on Kickstarter.
You can also consider bootstrapping your company, another word for self-funding and not giving up ownership too fast.
"Bootstrapping for as long as possible gives your product or service time to gain traction and catch on," said entrepreneur Brenton Hayden. "Only when you can demonstrate to investors that a new influx of capital will go towards clearly defined milestones should you look for funding."
Have a good team.
The importance of building up a team comprised of people smarter than you will help scale the business and transform the company, said Ilir Sela, CEO of Slice.
Ben Anderson, founder of Amino apps, also said gathering input from a diverse range of people leads to higher-quality decisions and a more dynamic organization.
"You need diverse input from people who have a variety of backgrounds and perspectives who can help you look at issues through a new lens," Anderson told Business Insider.
Find your niche.
Before Maleeka T. Hollaway launched her communications agency The Official Maleeka Group, she built multiple income streams by ghostwriting, editing, coaching freelancers, and pitching herself to brands.
She took a step back and realized all her freelance work indicated she was a skilled communicator: She could sell herself with her writing and coaching. "Everything I did then and that I do now in my business revolves around communicating," Hollaway wrote in 2018.
Her business now revolves around ways to teach others about her area of expertise. She teaches other small business owners to pitch their experience through workshops, becoming ambassadors for brands, or creating an online course.
Don't settle for an accountant.
Small-business owner Nicole Rollender said when she first set up her LLC, she hired an affordable virtual accountant. The virtual tool ended up messing up her tax forms, causing her to overpay.
Afterward, she shopped around for a local accountant familiar with her state's particular forms and regulations, and even helped her get back the money she overpaid.
"Whether or not the firm is local to you, it should understand small businesses and your state's particular forms and regulations," Rollender said.
Figure out your marketing strategy.
A business owner never stops marketing, Rollender said, who recommends spending at least several hours a week pitching her firm on LinkedIn and email. The one time she stopped marketing, she lost several clients and had to spend several hours a day pitching to get four new ones.
She stresses the importance of marketing because building relationships can take weeks or even months before they start paying: "One coach wisely said I should always be prospecting, because relationships can take months to convert to paying clients," Rollender wrote to Business Insider.
Four years after Justin McLeod launched the dating app Hinge, he made the decision to "reboot" the entire app by removing the swiping feature to appeal to users interested in serious relationships.
That kind of flexibility was key to keeping his business afloat, McLeod told Business Insider: "Doing things the same way we've always done as the company continues to grow and the market continues to change is just a recipe for disaster."
Business owners would be wise to solicit feedback and constructive criticism from their customers. For instance, ask early clients, friends, or family members to test your product or service. See if there are any recurring notes they have — it may mean there's a way to improve your offering before it hits the mainstream market.
Additionally, make sure your company is open to communication from customers. This can be as easy as encouraging people to message a social media platform and as complicated as a form on your website. Either way, you'll hear what works, what doesn't and what people like about your business.
Garrett and Melanie Marrero, cofounders of Maui Brewing Company and the Small Business Association's People of the Year in 2017, credited their success to an "unwillingness to quit."
The two faced a number of obstacles during the company's early days — including a lawsuit from the owners of the space they bought — which took a toll on their emotions.
Knowing the two had invested their own money into the business, they had no choice but to keep going.
"It was going to be a fight, and we fought hard to make sure that we were going to be successful," Garrett told Business Insider reporter Rich Feloni.
Just go for it.
You can't plan for the challenges your company might face five or even two years ahead of time. Instead of spending a year working on business models or developing an idea, Bouchra Ezzahraoui, founder of AUrate, says to just go for it.
"Just go and start," she told Business Insider reporter Shana Lebowitz. "Test it. Have focus groups. Start with people around you."
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