What Aspiring Entrepreneurs Should Know About Starting a Business
Discover what successful small business owners say are the best bits of advice they were given when launching their own ultimately successful ventures.
"What is the best advice you've received as a small business owner?" Various IT MSP business owners who started their companies from scratch recently decided to weigh in on this all-important question, offering valuable insight that can help wannabe entrepreneurs avoid common yet deadly business mistakes. It's worth noting that these successful business owners come from all over the United States and their advice applies to just about any industry.
Be Ready to Sell
Jason Simons runs ICS, an IT MSP that serves Houston, San Antonio, and Austin. He notes that the best advice he received as a small business owner is to always run your business as if you are going to sell it. Even those who haven't made plans to sell may find themselves blindsided by a family emergency, health issues, or an unexpected great offer. This point especially holds true for those who partner with a venture capitalist when starting a new company. As Mr. Simons points out, a venture capitalist helps small companies get off the ground by offering to fund and, in many cases, expert advice on setting up and running a successful business. The venture capitalist may be heavily involved in running the company, alternatively, he or she may remain in the background while you do most of the work and handle most of the responsibility. At the end of the day, the venture capitalist not only gets a percentage of ownership in the company but also the opportunity to expand his or her own portfolio by eventually acquiring your company along with other companies in the same industry to create a larger organization.
Prioritize People and Culture from the Beginning
Don Baham from the Kraft Technology Group hails from Nashville, Tennessee. He states that the best advice he has been given, and that he, in turn, passes on to others, is to focus on your people and culture from the very beginning. Get the people right and you can go anywhere you want with the business. Get the people wrong and your business stagnates or worse. He suggests implementing a system that enables you to choose employees wisely, hold your leaders accountable for their areas of responsibility, and measure employee performance against your core values.
Ilan Sredni, the president of Palindrome Consulting in Southern Florida, adds to this point. He notes that the best advice he was given as a small business owner was not to hire someone until he knew exactly how that person would do a particular job. Doing so would not only be frustrating for a business owner but also the employee in question as lack of clarity could lead to a bad utilization of that person's skills.
Know how to Identify Unprofitable Activity
Will Buchanan heads up Philantech3 in Spokane, Washington. He reports that the advice he wishes he had received when starting a new business is to learn how to identify unprofitable activity. He accurately points out that many business owners look at overall profits instead of identifying which jobs are generating net income and which are not. The ability to identify unprofitable jobs and dump them would provide small business owners with the time and resources needed to engage in more profitable work. Furthermore, as Mr. Buchanan points out, it's wise for a business owner to start small, with something he or she can understand and fund without outside assistance.
Be Content with Steady Growth
Joe Cannata from Techsperts, LLC in New Jersey asserts that the best piece of advice he received is to grow the business responsibly rather than trying to grow too quickly. He reports that he has never taken out loans to speed up the growth process but has rather been content to grow at a slow yet steady rate. The idea is a wise one because expanding too quickly can amplify your weaknesses, turn off new clients who aren't being offered top-tier service and assistance and leave you playing catch-up rather than focusing on important issues that would boost your company long-term.
Are you considering launching your own business? Doing so can be exhilarating, but it's also challenging as you work to win over your client base, find the right employees, and scale your services. Thankfully, you don't have to take on this difficult job alone even if you don't have a business partner or mentor to help you get your new company off the ground. Many successful small business owners are eager to offer advice to their future colleagues to help new business owners avoid common mistakes that could cause delays, hassles, or even the premature end of the business. Consider the advice the above-mentioned business owners were given and tailor it to meet your needs to boost the odds of your business launching successfully and remaining successful long-term.