If you’re planning to open your first business this year, you’re probably pressed for time thinking about a wide range of things that will need to be done to launch the venture. However, while it’s exciting to take this big leap, remember that many businesses fail within their first five years, so you need to take steps to give yourself the best possible chance of success.
One way to do this is to learn as much as you can about relevant business subjects before you rush into investing all your time, money and energy into a venture. The more you can learn upfront, the easier it will be not only to build a growing operation, but also to ensure you start something with “legs” in the first place. To help you on your way, read on for some key topics you need to learn about as soon as possible to prepare you to be an entrepreneur.
One of the main topics all new business people need to get their heads wrapped around is sales. While you might come up with the best products or services in the world, if you don’t know how to sell them to people — and sell yourself and your passion in general (to potential partners, investors, lenders, employees, journalists and the like) — you’ll never be able to achieve the results you strive for.
It’s possible to outsource sales processes to specialist sales reps or consultants, but keep in mind that you probably won’t be able to afford this for a while. Plus, you will still need to understand effective sales strategies for other purposes. As such, improve at things like sales prospecting, sales pitching, active listening and building connections.
Since marketing your wares is another key component of business success, you must also pick up everything you can on this subject. In particular, learn the ins and outs of branding. When you’re launching a new business, you will be coming from a zero base in the marketplace. This means you must create an effective brand that captures interest and is memorable, shareable and easily understood.
Being an entrepreneur who gets results also comes down to you branding yourself, personally. As the head honcho of your organization, and likely the face of it too, you must find ways to build a positive name in your industry. CEOs who are considered to be credible, reliable, easy to work with, knowledgeable, honest, interesting, transparent, passionate and committed will tend to get more opportunities for their venture than leaders who aren’t seen similarly (or who aren’t seen at all!).
As you’d imagine, it’s hard to grow a startup if you don’t also have a good grasp of finance. This is an area where many entrepreneurs let themselves down, and a lack of knowledge about handling cashflow is one of the key reasons many businesses have to close their doors. Start learning ASAP about things like how to set and stick to a budget, how to track the incoming and outgoing cash in your business and how to create, read and utilize financial documents. For example, study profit and loss statements, balance sheets, tax returns, sales projections and more. Also look into things like banking, international trading, currency conversions and investing.
You may choose to use an accountant and/or financial advisor right from the start, but even if you do, you still need to understand finances, so you can make better day-to-day trading decisions and ensure you don’t get taken advantage of by consultants who think they can dupe you.
Make sure you educate yourself on the topic of leadership. You may have employees as soon as you open your business, or you may not be able to hire people for a while — regardless. you will need to know how to work with other people effectively.
Being a good leader when you have your own venture is important because you want to get the most out of your workforce and ensure employees stay committed to your business and remain as happy as possible in their jobs. Loyal, passionate staff will help you to grow your business much more quickly.
Leadership skills will also enable you to better delegate and be more productive yourself, resolve conflicts, hire well, steer a group of people toward a common goal, get across your needs and wishes and coordinate teams made of workers with different strengths and personalities.