The fear of failure is one of the most common reasons why people decide not to start their own business. Hauling yourself out of your comfort zone and throwing yourself into the unknown takes a certain amount of courage and self-assurance.
Leaving a cosy, secure job to try and turn your business idea into reality is definitely a risk, but if you follow sound advice you’re more likely to succeed.
When it comes to good advice on starting your own business, successful entrepreneurs are always worth listening to, so we asked David Rusenko, founder and CEO of Weebly to share his 10 top tips on starting and growing your own business;
Launching a business is a daunting task. I started Weebly 9 years ago aged 21, dropping out of university in the process and convincing two of my friends to come with me. It was a gamble, and a scary one, but I’m definitely glad I rolled those dice.
We’ve now helped more than 40 million entrepreneurs launch websites, blogs and online stores in more than 170 countries across the world. However, we know that there are many more budding entrepreneurs out there who have a great business idea, but feel too intimidated to take the plunge.
Recent research we commissioned from YouGov revealed that 71% of UK entrepreneurs believe the fear of failure is preventing people from launching new businesses.
31% also said that launching their own company was the scariest thing they ever did and 25% said launching it online was one of the most intimidating aspects of doing so.
However, anybody who has done it, will tell you that starting and running your own business is one of the most rewarding things you can do. Overcoming that initial fear can be the biggest obstacle, so to help you along, here are the top 10 tips my start-up experiences have taught me;
1. DIY market research
Worried that no one wants to buy your product? Sorry to say this, but you might just be right!
The only way to know for sure is to carry out market research. That in itself may sound like a big, expensive project, but it doesn’t need to be. Speak to friends and family, search around for competing ideas online or create a quick survey using a free tool like Survey Monkey to get feedback on your product and insight into your market.
2. Share your ideas
Lots of people keep their killer business idea to themselves, worried that others will run off with their brainwave if they share it, but this is unfounded.
Having a great idea is all very well and good, but having the determination and dedication to follow it through and build it into a success is far more important. Share your idea, get feedback and use it to help shape your plans.
3. Set realistic goals
One of the things that tends to intimidate people when they’re starting out is the sheer amount to do.
It’s very easy to get caught up with the small details, such as creating the perfect logo, or constantly refining the extensive business plan. But what you need to do is set your sights on growth and customer acquisition. The other stuff can wait.
Set your sights on simple objectives that you can work towards now and throw all your energy into achieving those.
4. Be patient with success
Success can take time, and anyone who thinks they’re going to be a hit overnight is pretty likely to end up disappointed.
Two thirds of the people we surveyed said that growing their customer base is the single biggest difficulty their business face. We all go through it, and a clear lesson for any entrepreneur is that you’re very likely to encounter a wide variety of problems you’d never have anticipated.
The trick is to recognise that these are just temporary setbacks, and that they can be learned from.
5. Don’t be intimidated by getting online
The importance of having a clean, clear and engaging website is now essential for any business, and equally important is that the site works on mobile devices too. However, having a great idea and good business savvy doesn’t necessarily mean you also have top notch coding or web design skills.
Online tools can help make the whole process much easier for those worried about building a decent web presence. Some can also automatically optimise your site for SEO to boost your search ranking and help grow your customer base.
6. Delegate, don’t micro-manage
Knowing when to hand over the reins is a key business attribute. None of us can do everything all on our own, and it’s crucial that we’re able to place trust in the people we hire.
Micro-managing tasks will end up sucking up all of your time and cause resentment among your team. Instead, learn to delegate those tasks that don’t require your personal touch, and give your team the space to succeed on their own terms.
7. Reflect your customers’ values
Winning and retaining customers is one of the most difficult things to do with a new business, and to do it successfully, they need to personally identify with the business.
People want to buy things from a business that reflects their own values, which requires frequent communication about who your company is and what matters to it.
It’s not just customers, employees also need to buy in to the company’s goals and values, so as well as regular external communication don’t forget to communicate internally as well.
8. Don’t go it alone
Building a business is hard work, made much harder if you’re doing it all on your own. When launching Weebly, I looked to my friends to help set up, and I couldn’t have done it without them.
It’s also an important point for startups looking to secure funding – investors have learned to focus their investment not on the idea but on the team behind it. It’s not ideas that win investment, but teams who inspire confidence that they can deliver on the potential of the idea.
9. Establish cash flow
Securing a positive cash flow is essential to any business, but it’s a tricky thing to do and tends to hamper early stage businesses in particular. But there are things you can do to help ensure that your business has a steady income stream.
One route is by asking clients to pay up front for products and services. Another is to request deposits on work up front and then taking the remaining balance once the work has been delivered.
10. Hire great people
When you’re starting out, it’s crucial that you hire the right people. These aren’t necessarily those who have a long list of relevant experiences, but rather those who match your drive and enthusiasm, and would be a good fit for the team.
For young businesses, a lack of money and reputation can mean hiring mistakes are costly. Additionally, once you’ve found the right people, make sure you keep them by empowering them, trusting them to take ownership of their work.
Entrepreneurs have always needed to be bold, and that’s still true. Starting a business is scary, but it shouldn’t hold someone with a good idea and business acumen back.
It’s true that startup businesses have a high failure rate, not only get a business launched but to drive it into a success as well.
This guide has been written exclusively for ByteStart by David Rusenko, founder and CEO of Weebly, the website builder that’s been used by over 40 million entrepreneurs and small businesses.
Last updated - 2nd November, 2016