Part 2 in a 2 part series
Last week, our blog profiled three boomers who have turned their passion into a new business. Now that you have some inspiration, we want to prepare you for the reality. Although it is exciting to start something new, there are also practicalities that should be considered prior to launching any business. FirstLantic has some tips this week to make sure that your new venture (or adventure) starts off with the right foundation.
Tip 1 – Reach out to others for guidance
Don’t be afraid to tap into your extended social network to get advice. Talk to other successful entrepreneurs and get the good, the bad and the ugly so you can be fully prepared for what you are getting yourself into. If you find someone that is willing to take the time, ask them to be your mentor or advisor. Meet regularly as your plan progresses to get their honest feedback. And try to take the feedback as constructively as possible. You asked them to be an advisor, so you should thoughtfully consider all their advice. Don’t let your emotions get the better of you. The point is to be ready for every scenario so that you start out with the best possible chance of success.
Tip 2 – Get your finances in order
This may sound obvious, but you need to be financially prepared to weather a few years of meager earnings. There are very few businesses (if any) that get off the ground and start making money right away. That means you have to have another source of income or savings to rely on while you are getting started. If you currently have a job, you might want to keep your current employment while you are looking into the feasibility of your idea. You might have to work in the evenings or on the weekends to get it all done but at least you will not have the stress of worrying about your next paycheck. Or you could also consider a part-time job that will help provide a little bit of a cushion while things are ramping up.
Tip 3 – Follow your passion
Successful businesses are usually prosperous because the person or people that started them care deeply about what they do. That doesn’t mean that every passion can (or should) be a business. But it does mean that you have to find something that you love in order to be willing to put the time and energy into it that will be required. You also have to pair your passion with the necessary skills. If you love art, but you are not familiar with the art world, you may not want to start a gallery! Think about the experiences you have acquired over your life and use that expertise. There will be plenty of ancillary things that you will need to learn about running a business, but you need to start out doing something that you know.
Tip 4 – Research, research, research
Whether it be finding the best location, knowing your competitors, total size of the market opportunity or developing your pricing model, you have to do your homework. Fortunately, it is easier than ever before to find most of the information that you need online. There are numerous resources to help you get started such as the Small Business Administration, AARP, and your local Chamber of Commerce. The important thing is to consider the potential opportunity from every angle and to determine the most important elements for achieving success. We have included a full list of resources at the bottom of this blog.
Tip 5 – The devil is in the details
Many people have a good idea, but they don’t execute it well and their business fails. For example, consider you are an online business only and you need a website. It is easy to think you can build it yourself or use a cheap resource, but your website is the first way that people will determine your legitimacy as a business. It is important to get it done right. From the messaging, to the creative, to the time it takes to load the website, you can’t afford to have people get there and leave because they don’t have a good experience. Put your best foot forward as it may be the only chance you get to make a first impression.
Many businesses also rely too heavily on word of mouth for acquiring customers. While that is certainly very important, you also need to have a marketing plan done by a professional. It is easy to think that you can do it yourself, but the reality is that you won’t have the time to do that effectively and run the day to day of your business. How often have you gone to a social media page for a business and seen zero updates in the last 30 or 60 days? That immediately threatens your credibility. The bottom line is you need to get it done right or don’t do it at all.
In summary, there are a lot of things to consider when you start a new business and the better prepared, the better chance for success. It can be intimidating but it should not stop you from doing it as long as you know what to expect. Take advantage of all the resources that are available and embark on your new adventure knowing that you are prepared!
Resources for getting started: