Making the decision to start a business comes with plenty of emotions. Perhaps the biggest one is a sense of fear, thanks to all the unknowns. What if people don’t want your product? What if your sales tactics don’t resonate with buyers? What if you run out of cash? And, of course, the biggest what-if of all: What if you fail?
These fears are understandable, but you don’t have to say goodbye to your dreams just because you can’t see into the future. Since the start of the pandemic, entrepreneurship has grown exponentially, with more than five million business applications filed in 2021 alone. In other words, you don’t have to feel like you’re alone in your desire to bring the world something new, exciting, or downright revolutionary. Millions of others are walking the same road.
Of course, you still need to act with care, thoughtfulness, and rationality. That’s where listening to others’ advice comes in handy. Seeking insider tips on how to keep a just-launched business afloat is wise. Fortunately, it’s also easy because tons of successful entrepreneurs are eager to share the best practices they recommend. For example:
1. Metamorphose into a social butterfly.
When you’re knee-deep in the beginnings of a business, you may find yourself tempted to lead a relatively solitary existence. After all, keeping your nose to the grindstone will make your company survive and thrive, right? Not necessarily.
Networking is an essential part of starting and maintaining a successful business. By attending events regularly, you can meet potential clients, partners, and investors, and you might pick up some valuable advice from other entrepreneurs along the way. Beryl Stafford, for example, knew little about the food industry or running a business within it when she founded Bobo’s. So she turned to networking events to learn more.
“I decided to start attending various local natural food industry events, advisory group functions and most importantly, food trade shows. I entered each arena with self-improvement as my number one goal,” Stafford wrote in an article for Entrepreneur.
2. Diversify your funding sources.
Analysis by CB Insights shows that running out of cash or failing to raise new capital are the top reasons startups fail. Setting yourself up with several funding sources rather than focusing on one will be important for long-term success. For instance, you may want to use a combination of investment sources, so you aren’t reliant on one stream of cash. These sources could include anything from tapping into your personal savings to taking on “good” debt.
Don’t just say yes to every possibility, though, particularly if you’re entertaining the prospect of bringing investors on board. Lu Zhang, founder and managing partner of venture capital firm Fusion Fund, advises entrepreneurs to create a target list of investors based on research to ensure a good fit.
“Research investors’ backgrounds and sectors,” Zhang said. “I’ve said no to many founders because they weren’t within my investment focus.”
When deciding which investors will be the best fit, make every interaction count. “Whenever you talk with a venture capitalist, consider it a free consulting session instead of trying to push for more funding,” Zhang advises. “Every conversation with VC is an opportunity to get feedback about your product.”
3. Bolster your online presence.
In an article for Entrepreneurs’ Organization, branding specialist Marina Byezhanova wrote about how people tend to be more interested in the person running a company than their actual brand. Shote notes that in one case, a founder’s personal LinkedIn had 20 times the following of her brand’s profile.
Essentially, this boils down to a simple truth: People like doing business with people. Period. As the head of your organization, you need to make yourself the face and voice that drives your company forward online.
If you haven’t concentrated efforts on increasing your visibility digitally, now is the time to start. By putting yourself out there, you’re adding a sense of soul and spirit to your startup. No longer is it just another business. It’s the result of your passion.
The jump from thinking about starting your own company to making it a reality can be overwhelming. It’s natural to have worries and wise to acknowledge them, but don’t let them get in the way of momentum. Instead, spend time learning proven lessons from others to increase your chances of success.