It’s no surprise that many people fantasize about a life where they are their own boss. Being an entrepreneur means living independently without the need to follow orders. Furthermore, entrepreneurship may lead to flexible work hours with no limit on your income and owning your own business empire.
However, building a business from the ground up is no easy feat. Only 40% of small businesses are profitable, while the other 60% either break even or lose money continuously.
So how exactly does one master business in this harsh economy? Though there is no fixed formula, but here are some tips on learning how to help you learn business and get started as an entrepreneur.
1. Start Small
Starting small is underrated. Most aspiring entrepreneurs try to hit the ground running immediately, before even learning the basics and pitfalls to avoid. My advice is to take things slowly in the beginning and start small. Going big from day one isn’t always the best approach.
My partner and I just got on Forbes 30 Under 30 Asia’s list of honorees. However, we most definitely did not get there in a day. It took us 7 years to really get the hang of how to run our business, and it’s not something we were able to do from day one.
The first presentation I ever did was for a cheesecake shop in the United Kingdom for a few hundred dollars. It was not much, but it gave me the confidence to do bigger things and a happy customer is always good to have at the beginning.
Start off by trying to sell cheaper goods or services like selling old clothing pieces you no longer need online or offering graphic design services. These activities may seem trivial, but the opportunities they teach you cost management, basic marketing and how to deliver real value to your consumers (and dealing with challenges along the way)
Trying to fast-track your progress and by diving in immediately could lead to a rude awakening, potentially even business failure. 7 out of 10 small businesses are impacted by business failure , and statistics show they end up failing before their 10-year mark. Be it due to poor expense control or a lack of a proper business system, business failure can be minimized once you master the basics early.
2. Model After Success
Reading up founder stories online through feature articles, podcasts, and websites can give you the insights to how these outstanding individuals succeeded in their journey and the pitfalls to avoid on your own.
Business leaders tend to leave patterns of success. Modeling after them, learning more about their world views, and vicariously going down the same path they took will give you a powerful head start, possibly clarifying difficult and similar decisions you’ll have to make.
Do ensure you pick the right person to model after. Choose someone who has reached the level you aspire to reach. Read up about his or her mottos and visions, their drawbacks and successes, including how they got to where they are now. To quote the old adage: “Learn from the mistakes of others. You can’t live long enough to make them all yourself!””
When I first started our business, I reached out personally to entrepreneurs I looked up to, like Ana Foureaux Frazao, who was a keynote designer at Apple at the time. Fortunately, they generously shared their experienced advice and encouragement that really got me through some tight spots.
Now, you’re lucky enough to be starting a business in a time where podcasts are all the rage and experts share advice for free on Linkedin.
Every success story belies a road laden with challenges and pitfalls waiting to creep up on you. Discover more about these founders’ failures, how they picked themselves up, and apply these lessons you have learned to your own personal ventures. Not only do you get to avoid the mistakes they made, but you are also one step closer to your goal.
3. Enroll in a Course to Learn New Skills
Being an entrepreneur requires you to wear many hats, which often means that you have to take on more roles than you would be comfortable with. In a big company, there are a few essential roles that make the company tick, helmed by various people — HR, marketing, accounts, administrative, etc. Starting your own business means you’ll need to take on all of them.
Consistently acquiring new skill sets and experiences is the hallmark habit of a great entrepreneur.
Take some time to attend classes to improve your skills in areas that need work. Explore in-depth areas that you’re already adept at. By taking a crash course to explore different topics of business, you can hone all your business skills, especially those which you particularly avoided in school.
For example, apart from learning hard skills, like programming and design, you’ll also want to pick up soft skills, like negotiation, sales, and presentation skills.
Being an entrepreneur does not necessarily mean you need to be good at everything, but it does mean that you need to be willing to try everything and become a jack-of-all-trades. Take the first step to better equip yourself with the most comprehensive duffel bag of skill sets for the long journey ahead because in the beginning, you’ll likely have to do it all by yourself.
4. Master Marketing
Our world is changing. We have children making millions filming reviews about toys and teenage influencers earning more on good months than entry-level bankers. Attention is becoming scarcer, and if you know how to command it, you’ll be in a good position to profit massively.
As a starting point, you’ll want to master a few key elements and skill sets to begin learning marketing:
Platforms and Social Media
Get intimate with various new social platforms like TikTok, tackle professional audiences on LinkedIn, and get familiar with the old-but-gold Facebook channel for advertising. These will be your bread-and-butter channels that you’ll own apart from your own websites and will be crucial in getting the word out about your business.
Blogging and Publishing
Whether you’re using WordPress or Medium, the ethos is the same. Share valuable content for free that your audience will love and develop a community and expert identity. In turn, they’ll potentially purchase what you sell and spread your message.
Years back, SlideShare was the go-to platform for our niche before they got acquired by LinkedIn. I regularly put up PDFs there, which, in turn, got us hundreds of inquiries and leads. After a year or two, we had millions of people viewing our content. Now that it’s almost defunct, we’ve had to find new channels like LinkedIn to market.
All the marketing tactics and strategies available will be for naught if you do not have a clear idea of who you’re targeting, what they want, and the best ways to reach them. Take time to first understand your audience inside-out — understand their desires, fears, and aspirations.
Marketing should lead to you getting noticed. It should also lead to you getting paid. The latter is more difficult to accomplish effectively. Setting the right prices that will resonate with your audience is crucial to developing a successful marketing strategy and business.
5. Meet Other Entrepreneurs
Nothing beats surrounding yourself with smart, like-minded, and driven individuals who are also facing the same struggles as you are. You are not alone in this journey; there are others that can help you along the way!
The road to being a successful entrepreneur can be rough and, most of all, lonely. There is a 100% chance that you’ll face challenges and hardship along the way, and having a strong mental game mindset is essential to persisting and staying optimistic.
Having an inner circle of entrepreneurs can offer you contextual advice on making difficult decisions and navigating your next steps. Exposing yourself to this new group of individuals is the best opportunity to pick up something new.
Using apps like Meetup, joining groups on LinkedIn, or attending business events on platforms like Eventbrite can set you up to meet your future inner circle of entrepreneurs.
You never know, you may just learn a little something that can ultimately bring you to greater heights and accomplish even more of the unknown.
Aside from that, you can potentially find business partners or collaborators that don’t compete directly but serve a similar customer group amongst your target audience .
6. Identify a Product Niche You Know Well
It’s easier to sell a product that you are familiar with intimately. You understand the pain points that drive you to make a decision, and your potential customers will go through the same journey of decision-making. Understanding the pain points of the product, you know exactly the change you want to bring to it.
In the best-case scenario, what you’re selling could be what you’re passionate about.
Your interest may be in working out, for instance. As such, starting a business in that space can prove to be more interesting, and due to your intimate understanding of it, likely more successful, too.
We started our presentation consultancy, HighSpark, stemming from interest and expertise. Our existing skills in the area made it easier to get our first few clients versus selling a service or offering what we truly didn’t understand at all. We were also able to clearly articulate the pain points based on previous clients we helped on a freelance basis before starting the business.
Good business ideas hardly just “come to you” by magic. However, that shouldn’t stop you from starting. Start with a passion, pick a pain point, and begin there. Your ideas and business model might evolve over time, but you’ll thank yourself for starting early.
7. Become an Intern
Before you start building your own empire, consider getting some first-hand experience in the real world to have a good kickstart. Without knowing how the gears work behind the scenes, you increase the chances of yourself making mistakes that could have been avoided.
Interning at a successful small company can be a good start. It can give you deep insights into the company’s inner workings and how its founders developed their business first-hand.
A well-selected internship can expand your horizons, provide an opportunity to work directly with and learn from the founders of the small company. In a larger corporation setting, you might not get the same level of responsibility.
You’ll also have the license to make a few mistakes in a safer environment. People are generally more forgiving towards interns, who are usually less experienced than full-time hires.
This opportunity will let you capitalize on your strengths and apply lessons learned to your business ventures with greater ease. Best of all, you get a free ticket to be mentored by a professional, so there is no need to feel your way in the dark when in doubt. You are not on your own!
These tips should be sufficient to get you started, but undertaking the responsibilities to nourish and grow your company takes a lot of courage.
With great resolve and continuous learning, you are only a few more steps away from becoming a successful entrepreneur!
More Tips on Becoming an Entrepreneur
Unsurprisingly enough, all businesses are online today. Considering the advances in the smartphone industry as well as the increasingly accessible internet facility, it was only a matter of time before businesses took advantage of the online environment.
This increasing popularity makes for a promising future for a lot of young entrepreneurs. And knowing how to start an online business will open up a world of possibilities for you that was not possible 10 years ago.
So, keeping the potential for exponential growth in mind, let’s dive into the article below, and explore the steps of starting an online business that will bring you success.
1. Becoming the Master of ‘ONE’ Trade
Most successful online businesses are the master of one trade. And that’s why beginning with a niche is always a good idea.
A niche market is a focused segment within a larger market. Imagine a men’s shoes market and then, imagine handcrafted brown Italian leather shoes for men. While the previous one is a bigger market, the latter one is simply a more focused segment within that market.
Knowing the niche helps a lot to start an online business and if you are feeling a bit lost, here are some self-queries that will act as a perfect guide:
What Speaks to Your Heart?
This first way of discovering the niche is perfect for those who want to do what they love. Working in a market that you love will ensure that constant excitement and drive to do better, eventually leading to ultimate prosperity.
Decisions Based on Knowledge
The second way is perfect for those who have a lot of untapped knowledge about a specific industry. Utilizing the insights on a specific industry is a great way to find a niche. This way, you’ll already know all the ins and outs of the industry and can easily get ahead of all the competitors.
Lastly, conducting research into various industries and finding an untapped segment is another amazing way of finding the right niche. This practice will require you to come up with a new and unique solution for uncatered audiences.
2. When Is Your Idea Valid?
All the great ideas for starting an online business needs to be valid. And once you have found the niche, this validation process is what comes next.
Proving the soundness of the idea is not at all hard. A detailed industry examination is all you need initially to understand the value of the concept and recalibrate it to turn into a great online business.
Market research is a systematic unraveling of the target market. This research will include all the information on the product/service you are about to sell, the target audience, and how the competitors are operating in this crowded market.
This in-depth research will give you the initial idea of how the products can make an impact in the outside world. And once the small online business ideas are validated, it will be time to move on and craft a plan and start working on establishing the business.
3. Crafting the Map to Success
Having a proper plan for an online business is like having a map when you travel to an unknown city. This is a document that includes all the factual information on the business and crucial business data.
To help you out, here’s a list of all the information online business plans must include:
- An idea of objective – The best online business plans always have a clear outline of the business goals and intentions. Having this clear outline will increase the efficiency of business functions later on. The target demographic, business model—all kinds of information needs to be a part of this document.
- Taking stock of available resources – A startup needs to utilize all the resources it has, and that’s why the plan needs to have an in-depth outline of the financial resources in use as well as the employees and their expertise. With a better idea of all the resources in hand, starting an online business will be an easier process.
4. The Virtual Storefront: A Process of Development
The steps of how to start an online business are incomplete without the website creation process. With the right website approach, you can easily succeed in increasing business revenue.
What does that perfect business website look like? Let’s follow these steps to create an effective business website.
Choose Your Approach
There are numerous ways of making a website and for a positive outcome, you need to choose the perfect approach. Depending on the business model, initial finances, and end goals, there are two kinds of approaches for the online storefront:
- Third-party approach – Third-party platforms will connect you with the customers out there. For small online business ideas, Creating an account or site with these platforms will be beneficial because these platforms come with a large array of services as well as a big enough existing consumer base ready to utilize.
- Creating a new website – A business-specific website will help you eliminate the third party go-between and connect directly with the buyers. With this approach, you get more control over the business and how it is presented to the consumers out there and the revenue you make. Any of the above-mentioned approaches can be beneficial for easy online business startups. However, to achieve some specific business goals, having a customized website will be more beneficial for you.
Design Can Bring You Maximum Success!
For those who have decided to create their own site, the design is of paramount importance. With a great design, you will be able to engage and interact with the visitors better and encourage them to make a purchase.
The design, however, is not just a matter of aesthetics. A website’s design encompasses all aspects of it, from the visual effects to the content that’s used on the site.
To create a truly amazing design that reflects new online business concepts here are a few matters to consider:
- Keep it responsive – Many markets are simply skipping over the desktop phase and launching the business for mobile users around the world. Considering this popularity of the mobile internet market, the business website has to be responsive. This approach will help you to reach a bigger audience and conduct business on a larger scale.
- Users want a fast experience – Using high-quality images on the site does improve the visuals, but make sure all those images are compressed. Having a faster website will enhance the user experience on the site. Besides compressing all the media content on the site, you can also utilize an asynchronous loading technique that loads all the contents simultaneously, reducing friction. With a faster site, it will become easier to implement the online business startup ideas into reality.
- Define the brand – The design stage determines a lot of things for the business website and one of those things is the business image. To make an impact on the world with the business, you have to create a perfect image and for that, a brand guide is necessary. The brand guide is a document that includes all the information and guidelines on various visual elements on the site that makes up the business personality. Based on the kind of image you want to create, all the elements will be outlined in this documentation.
Where the Website Becomes Reality
Since we know how website design helps to launch a successful online business, it is time to move onto development. Online business development is where the idea becomes a reality. And to make this reality perfect, you need to make sure that the development and deployment process goes well.
A high performing site always includes all the right features that enhance the user experience as well as helps you to convert more traffic. And for the best results, ensure the use of only the latest tech stack during development.
Here are some development issues you have to pay attention to while building the business website:
- The right partner makes all the difference – For small startups who are wondering how to start an online business, finding the right development partner is going to make all the difference. However, before making a decision, there are a few things you should contemplate. The team that you are about to hire should have experience in catering to your industry, as well as an extensive portfolio and good reviews. Additionally, it will be perfect if the agency or freelancer also provides a 360-degree service, from development to maintenance.
- How to assure the quality of the site? – Testing the site is an integral part of the answer to the question of “how to start an online business?”. An experienced partner will be able to help you the most with this. From security testing to split testing, this stage in development will help in understanding how well the site functions and what needs to change. And once the changes are made and the test results come clean, it will be time to launch the website.
5. Some Tricks to Increase Online Sales
Selling online is not easy, but not hard either. In a physical store, you can use campaigns, go door to door with pamphlets, and such. However, successful online businesses have their own style of campaigns that helps them to sell more without any problems.
So, what are these tricks?
Utilize the Magic of SEO
With an increase in quality traffic, the sales ratio will go up too. And to drive quality traffic on the website, you need to utilize the SEO tricks, and probably hire an SEO expert.
When starting an online business site, ensure all the content on the site is optimized to rank for the right queries by target consumers. With a higher rank on the SERP, the traffic will increase on the site.
With the increase in quality traffic, it will become easier for you to convert visitors. The visitor data will help you to adjust the site performance. In brief, utilizing SEO will open the doors to a lot of possibilities for your small online business ideas.
Entice With Free Value
Consumers today have lots of options to choose from. And keeping all that in mind, it will be wise to create a business plan for an online startup that provides free value to the users before asking them to buy something.
Consumers want to buy from someone who knows what they are doing, especially in the case of a curated service or goods provider. And that’s why to turn the profitable online business ideas even more effective, you need to start offering free value on the site, with free products and content.
Having a blog is also another way of displaying your expertise. With specialized content on the industry, you can easily grab the attention of the audience. And once assured of your knowledge on the matter, consumers will feel a lot safer about making a purchase.
A Killer Customer Service Is Everything
Your small online business idea needs a better service option. Using AI-based interactive features to implement better support for the global consumer base will prove to be extremely beneficial. With a 24/7 automated support channel, customers will be satisfied with your business and come back more often.
It’s an Easy Process: All You Have to Do Is to Start
And there it is, the simple five-step process of starting an online business that is bound to succeed. If you look closely, you’ll notice that there are not a lot of differences between creating a physical business and an online one. The main differences are only in the consumer and competitive landscape.
While a physical store faces and caters to local competitors and consumers, the online business has to deal with the same on a global basis. So, focusing well on the global market landscape while crafting the plan will help you succeed.