With years of experience, I know what it takes to make it. If I have to start again, these are the seven tips I would start with and share you young entrepreneurs:
You will fail. That is part of the game. Your failures are most likely to lead to success if you get involved with something you believe in. Starting a business just for its own sake will leave you directionless, burned out and ultimately, back where you started. Choose an interest that you can be passionate about. Marrying charity to traditional business models may be a great way to combine the things you – and potential consumers – care most about.
2. Define your market
Many young entrepreneurs have heard this before. It’s one of the most common mistakes that entrepreneurs make. Go with something that makes sense for your scope. If you’re a small startup and still a student, staying local or targeting fellow students might be the best direction. The Internet gives us almost infinite reach, but it’s vital to narrow your market down to what is realistic, and stick with those who have a reason to be interested.
3. Price point
Risk taking is important in any new business venture, provided that it is sensible. Consider providing your product or service at the most basic level possible (also called minimum viable product). A small investment up front can hook new customers/donations before risking more money. Your target defines the ideal price. Survey your defined market and adjust accordingly. You can always re-evaluate your prices as you grow.
4. Be honest
This advice applies to yourself, your employees and your customers. Be honest about what you can commit to your business. It doesn’t do any good to over-extend yourself when in truth; you don’t have the cash or the hours to commit to a project. Be honest about what your partners can expect from you and what you expect in return. And be honest with clients.
5. Utilize, but don’t over-use, social media.
Young entrepreneurs/people nowadays are always very eager to jump online, and that’s not a bad thing. But it is important to think carefully before plastering marketing materials on the Internet. Social media is obviously a powerful tool. Focusing it on your business can get word out quickly and cheaply. That said, be careful not to put all of your eggs in the online basket. Experiment and measure results, then constantly evaluate and decide what is working and what you are wasting resources on.
6. Don’t forget PR
Traditional and online press relations can yield coverage that has longer shelf life and costs less than advertising. Think about what makes your product new, interesting and relevant. Then, talk to the media about it. You might get great reviews, mentions on blogs or even appear on news segments. Many media outlets have sections dedicated to people in the community doing outstanding things. Even an article in your campus newspaper can be a valuable source of publicity.
7. Look for mentors
The beginning of any venture can be exhilarating, frustrating, liberating and terrifying all at once. Remember, although you young entrepreneurs can be more tech-savvy than those who have been in business for years, there are still basic principles that are refined by experience. Many communities offer networking opportunities for entrepreneurs young and old. Take advantage of this and you may be surprised at the wealth of knowledge your colleagues have to offer.
These tips won’t earn you certain success, but every bit of knowledge you can gather before you begin your entrepreneurial career can help you avoid serious mistakes.
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