Today, I’ll share seven actionable tips you need to take to become an entrepreneur, going beyond boring theory. I’ll use specific examples for each to set you up for success right out the gate. As you start your business journey. Entrepreneurship is exciting because you’re creating and delivering value on your terms. And unlike a regular job, the sky’s the limit when it comes to both your earning and time freedom potential. In general, there are three types of businesses you may be considering, service-based, product-based and content-based. I’ll be using examples of each as we explore all seven tips. So with that, let’s dive right in.
Tip # 1: What Challenge You’re Solving
Tip one, know what challenge you’re solving. If we distilled one commonality of literally every business on earth at the base level, they all solve a challenge. Maybe you’re selling stickers you design a visual homages that only rock climbers would understand. The challenges you’re solving might include giving rock climbers a way to share the love of their sport enabling them. To feel a sense of belonging in an in crowd. A way to decorate some of their stuff in a way that represents them.
That’s product based but maybe your business idea is service-based say, mobile dog grooming the challenges you might be solving could be helping folks who don’t own a car and are short on time.
Still have their pup looking great. What about content based, perhaps you and your significant other find yourselves constantly getting into arguments and decide to start a podcast where listeners can eavesdrop on others’ relationship struggles and gain tips on how to become a better partner in marriage.
The challenge that you’re solving for listeners is providing deeply relatable takes on how to get through every love related scenario imaginable.
On top of this, your podcast is also curing. By providing something educational, entertaining, and sometimes hilarious to listen to on their evening commute, you can see from all three of these examples at the end of the day, they are all solving a challenge for their target customers.
The only way to make money reliably and consistently is to solve a challenge in the buyer’s mind, a challenge they deem worthy of spending money to solve.
How do you put this tip into action. Whether you’re already in business or still in the idea stage, jot down your target customer groups and be clear about what their problems are, then brainstorm which ones you can solve and how you do it.
This will help with how you communicate your value proposition to them in your website copy and marketing materials.
If you’re interested, we’ll link a great blog about the concept of value propositions right up here, and in the description below, know your target audiences and know what challenges you’re solving for them. To do this, do some market and customer research.
Look at your competitors and take some notes on their website copy by the help of website design service UK and especially on their customer reviews, use your learnings to build out your own customer persona, then tailor your messaging so that it is crystal clear that your business solves their needs.
Tip # 2: Do Customer Development
Tip two do customer development. But what is customer development? It’s an effective way of validating your ideas and assumptions before spending money on expensive costs like inventory, capital equipment, and infrastructure. But how is this done?
Simple. By talking with your potential future customers. So our rock climbing sticker designer may choose to break open their laptop and show their designs to members at the climbing gym that they go to to see which designs folks gravitate, to what insights they can get, color options and use cases that come to other people’s minds.
Our aspiring mobile dog groomer may spend time at a few off-leash parks in the areas that they want to serve, to get to know their potential future customers current dog grooming routines, and preferred places.
Then researching those places to get a strong gauge for pricing. The podcasting couple may use one of their phones to film an argument, followed by a discussion on conflict resolution, then share it on their personal Facebook page to see the reaction, engagement levels and receptiveness of their friends.
They may even engage in conversations with their existing social circle to see how their friends currently deal with marital conflicts.
The point is before we buy sticker machines and dye cutters, Lease a work van outfit with dog grooming equipment, or spend thousands of dollars on podcasting equipment, we want to be able to higher levels of confidence that our business idea is indeed solving a need for our target customers in the ways that we anticipated.
And often you’ll learn interesting solutions that you never even thought of straight from your target customers mouths. By gaining validation when we do spend the startup capital, you’ll have a stronger plan of attack and build up sales much quicker. And speaking of spending startup capital.
Tip # 3, Determine Your Burn Rate And Runway
Tip three, determine your burn rate and runway. This is a time to really get down and dirty with pen and paper or calculator in spreadsheet, to gain clarity of your financial landscape end to end. Identify the costs of doing business, fixed monthly costs and variable costs.
Know your monthly personal burn rate for survival and identify your current available resources, which will all culminate to give you a clear idea of your runway. The amount of time you have in order to keep the early net negative business going before profits outpaced spending.
Our rick climber may realize they only have two months of runway. So getting a part-time job as necessary, and Hey, if they can get a part-time job at a climbing gym, all the better to be constantly surrounded by potential future customers, right?
The soon to be mobile dog groomer may have already saved enough money necessary to get a used van and some equipment and have a spouse whose job earns enough for them to go full-time right away.
Through their number-crunching though, they’ve identified that the fixed monthly cost, regardless of whether or not they get dog grooming clients is $500 a month and have an extra $1,500 set aside. So therefore they know that they have no more than three months to get the business into positive cash flow.
Our Aspiring podcasting couple recognizes that content based businesses often require a much more time to become profitable since more often than not, a sizable audience needs to be built before the money starts coming in.
They both decide to keep their full-time jobs and hit the record button during evenings and dedicate their weekends to editing, uploading, and marketing.
Also Read: How to Become an Enterpreneur
No matter what type of business you’ve started or plan on starting, getting a bird’s eye view of your financial landscape and identifying your burn rate and runway is critical for planning, sales targets, milestones, and ultimately viability.
We actually have a free template that is going to help you with just that. And you can find it by clicking on the link in the top right corner of the blog or down below in the description.
Tip # 4: Start With A Minimum Viable Product
Tip four, start with a minimum viable product. I know the word product is in this tip, as usual, this applies to service and content businesses too. The MVP is a way for you to move fast and spend as little time and money as possible to truly validate your offering.
Our rock climber may have dreams of having holographic stickers with gold leaf and Boston elements on them, but needs to recognize at the end of the day, it’s the core design and the insights sense of belonging for rock climbers that they’re solving.
So going with less costly stickers that still enable customers to feel that sense of community is all that’s needed as a minimum viable product to start selling.
Once the sales start flowing in and there’s cashflow to experiment with that’s when all the bells and whistles can be added.
Our dog grooming friend doesn’t need to spend money, getting fancy graphics on their van, nor do they have to offer every single service that the big box pet stores offer for grooming right away.
Maybe through their early conversations with dog owners at dog parks, they learned that the vast majority of dog owners in the area just want a deep brushing and nail clipping once a month. So spending money on a dog shampooing platform and water tank to install in the van just isn’t necessary, at the very beginning.
Our podcasting couple realized that they can get pretty great sound quality from the voice recording app on their phone, as long as they record inside their walk-in closet, where all the clothes reduce echo.
They skipped buying expensive microphones until they prove to themselves that they were in it for the long haul and start building a small following. Determining your MVP actually starts all the way back in tip two. In the customer development phase.
As you have conversations with potential future customers, to validate that your idea is indeed solving a challenge worth spending money on for them, you’ll naturally get valuable nuggets of information from them in those conversations, that’ll help guide your MVP.
There’ll always be a temptation to spend lots and build out every last feature and offering, but potential features and offerings are never ending. So focus on the minimum viable product where the least amount of input still solves the target customer’s challenge. Validate sales from that, and after money reliably comes in, then consider expanding the offering.
Tip # 5: Don’t Go Fishing
Tip five, don’t go fishing, instead, find the waves. And just so I’m clear, we’re talking about sales and customers here. See when trying to make sales, oftentimes new entrepreneurs may find themselves going fishing. One customer at a time.
And maybe it starts with texting everyone they already know who they genuinely believe they’re offering can help. Maybe it’s going door to door and maybe it’s posting stuff to their Instagram and asking their friends and followers to share.
The point is their efforts are less impactful because they’re going fishing for sales. Instead, find the waves. The places where your target customers already exist and interact in droves.
So instead of fishing, you can stand in the path of the wave and let it knock you over. Our rock climbing friends can. Of course, go to rock climbing gyms, but even better contact a rock climbing competition organizer to set up a small booth at major competitions, they could even consider creating an affiliate deal with a couple of climbing influencers on social media.
Read More: How to grow your business on Instagram?
Our dog groomer can consistently visit off-leash parks on Saturdays and hand out doggy treats with their name and website printed on the packaging of the individually wrapped treats.
Our Podcasting couple, they might pay for Google ads for the search terms, “marriage counselor near me” and “best marriage counselors” in a city name so that when people search for relationship counseling, a catchy ad for their podcast shows up at the top of the search results. This is your business.
And in tips one and two, you have already figured out your value proposition and your target customer segments. It stands to reason that you know, where your target customers go in droves, both in the real world and the digital one. To locate those ways of potential customers and stand in their paths, instead of casting one hook at a time.
Tip # 6: Design Processes And Systems
Tip six, design processes and systems. Being an entrepreneur, especially a solopreneur or early stage startup, means time is stretched thin because you’re wearing so many hats.
So dedicate energy and thought to designing processes that make all of the tasks you need to do as frictionless as possible. Our sticker maker may discover that it takes a lot of time to put orders in envelopes, seal them, write names and addresses and drop them off at the post office.
So finding tools that optimize processes like using Shopify’s robust backend to fulfill and directly print shipping labels with a label printer would save them boatloads of time.
Our dog grooming friends may soon find themselves struggling to keep promised appointments on time as their client list grows. And the number of hours spent stuck in traffic increases in tandem. So applying for a permit with parks and rec to allow them to park their van at dog parks, to reduce driving time, and to have so many potential customers in one spot could both drastically increase business while cutting down on commuting time.
Our podcasting couple may find that juggling both of their careers, recording and editing a podcast just takes too much time. So setting aside a few hundred dollars a month to hire an editor on gig sites like Fiverr or Upwork, just relieve so much pressure and enables healthier work-life balance.
By designing processes, optimizing them while always thinking in terms of systems, instead of individual tasks, we eliminate guesswork and undue stress to enable us to stay focused on the most impactful things. As we navigate the entrepreneurship journey.
Tip # 7: Is To Live The Phrase
Tip seven is to live the phrase, always a student. The co-founder of LinkedIn Reid Hoffman has been quoted as saying that building a company is just like jumping off a cliff and assembling the plane on the way down.
There are a lot of takeaways from this quote, not the least of which is that when it comes to entrepreneurship, we take a leap and must constantly be learning things and learning them quickly and effectively in order to take flight, you’ve got to take the leap, but make it a measured leap.
And once you leap, you can’t just expect results without action. Assemble that airplane as you free fall, but assemble it properly. And the only way to do that is to ensure that you’re always learning, learning from your customers, your peers, your mentors, from your failures.
Hey, maybe even a weekly visit to the learn with Shopify channel. But all cheekiness aside, one thing’s for sure when we stop learning, we stop growing.
And the fact that you’re even watching this blog means that you’re the type of person with growth on their minds. And by the way, if you’re really ready to make the leap, Shopify is here to give you one piece of that airplane in the form of a trial with Shopify, that’s completely free.
Over a million folks, just like you and me are using it to sell ship and process payments anywhere it’s backed by powerful tools that help you find customers, drive sales and easily manage your day-to-day. I think Shopify has definitely helped us in many businesses get started. And there’s nothing like hearing that cha-chang when you’re out living your life and doing something that you love.
I like that. You can sign up for your 100% free, no commitment trial by clicking the link in the top, right of this blog or in the description below. Oh, also one bridge we didn’t discuss is funding. When we think of funding, we often think of tech venture capital, hearing of funding rounds going to millions of dollars.
But maybe you have an idea that doesn’t quite require millions, but requires more than you currently have access to, to see it come to life. If you’d like a deep dive into getting funding for your business idea, let us know in the comments if a blog like that will give you value and speaking of giving you value