Advice For New Entrepreneurs From People Who’ve Been There

Becoming an entrepreneur is a big leap of faith. Many enter the profession with little knowledge of Finance, business, and money. Personally, I find that any advice that I can easily understand is very valuable to me.

A Quora thread titled “What should all first time entrepreneurs know before starting their very first business?” asked experienced people to share their experiences and advice they have for someone just starting out. Over 100 qualified people responded with differing, and extremely valuable advice.

Below is most interesting and noteworthy advice from the Quora thread:

From Keiana Cavé, a Forbes 30 under 30, and young entrepreneur:

  • Get used to failing. Unless your business idea is something that will change the world drastically, chances are someone out there has already tried to implement the idea and they failed as well (if I got over it, you can too). See Angela Lee Duckworth’s Ted Talk The key to success? Grit (I think this was aimed at education but it applies to this as well).
  • This is going to sound really cliche, but make sure you learn from your mistakes. Whether I’m on an entrepreneurial venture or just getting coffee with a friend, I carry a little notebook in my bag. Whenever I make a mistake (say something I regret, make a bad business move, etc.), I write it down. It’s my way of telling myself never to do it again. It really helps with leadership skills and figuring out where I went wrong.

From Oliver Emberton, Founder of Silktide:

  • Firstly, do it.
    Every single person – from my family to my closest friends – ultimately doubted that this was a good idea. (Many started being supportive, and changed their minds when times got harder). If you feel compelled to do it, don’t let anyone stop you, and don’t expect anyone to support you either.
  • Don’t be afraid to change tacks.
    There is a saying that no business plan survives first contact with the customer. Nintendo started by making playing cards. Facebook was designed for university students. My own company built websites for 10 years before changing to software. Changing direction doesn’t have to make you weak or indecisive – you may have to adjust to find your perfect niche. Just try to do it early and avoid doing it too often.
  • Advertising is a tax you pay for being unremarkable.
    A good idea is easy to sell; a great one will sell and spread itself. The harder you have to work to explain and sell what you do, the more your idea needs work. There are two solutions: simplify what you do, or change tracks entirely. You won’t sell more of a bad idea by making it more complicated.

From Ryo Chiba, Cofounder and COO at TINT:

  • Question and Re-evaluate
    Or in other words, “Fail fast”. Each team member must be responsible for re-evaluating their work constantly. No one on the team should be afraid to question their work. Even though it is painful to realize that something is not working, ignoring the problem leads to more waste and less learning. Be aware that transitioning to a culture where questioning is encouraged takes time and effort. People are trained to blindly take orders and deliver results. Fight back those natural instincts.
  • Justify Your Actions Using Data
    So, now you finally have the courage to admit that something isn’t working. Growth is stagnant, bounce rates are high, and nobody is upgrading to the ultra-premium plan. Now what? Data, that’s what. No data? Start tracking every important event your users fire using Google Analytics. Use the data and attempt to conjure up a logical reason behind your next steps. Data always trumps anecdata, or “feelings”. Don’t spend too much time discussing amongst yourselves when your users are telling you all the answers!

From Andrei Petrik, CEO & Co-Founder at NetHunt:

  • On Enough Cash Flow

    One study showed about 82 percent of the businesses that fail have cash flow issues. Having enough cash flow to get through the first year, when income can be up and down, is crucial. You need enough to cover salaries, money you owe vendors—and, if you have a brick-and-mortar location, rent and utilities.

    It’s important to have enough cash flow, even if you need to take on some investors initially. You just don’t know how much business you’ll have in those first months, or if people will pay on time, particularly if you are doing freelance work.

  • On Hiring Employees

    Getting the right employees on board isn’t as easy as it sounds. You can do everything right, and still wind up with people who aren’t a good fit. Fortunately, there are a few things you can do that will improve your chances of having great employees who love your business the way you do.

    First, pay attention to how passionate the person is about working in your industry. Is this just a filler job for them, or is it a career choice? Next, offer ongoing training. One key to having happy employees is keeping them engaged. You can do that with strong training techniques. Finally, build a sense of team. Give the employees ownership in your successes by allowing them to share in the rewards — throw them a party for hitting a sales goal, for example.

From Daniel Ndukwu, Founder of The Experiment:

  • You’ll have dozens or even hundreds of ideas; focus on one at a time.

    You’re a person with multiple passions, skills, and desires. You’ll be pulled in many directions at once. If you’re lucky, one of the desires will override the rest and you’ll see breakout success. If you’re like the rest of us, you won’t have that luxury.

    Your ideas will tear you apart and spread you thin, you’ve got to focus. You’ve got to make a decision at the very beginning that you’ll spend AT LEAST 18 months on any idea that has merit. If you don’t get traction after that then you can move on to the next one.

  • Always be Learning

    The people you hear about on the news and on TV that have success after success only have one thing in common. They’re always learning. If you’re planning on thriving in business and not just surviving, you need to make learning a habit. Not something you do when it’s convenient.

    We like experts.

  • Put yourself out there

    Nothing great ever came from your comfort zone. Push your limits then push them again. Once you’ve pushed beyond what you thought were your limits you’ll have a better understanding of what your TRUE strengths and weaknesses are. That’s when you can start hiring the best.

I hope that this advice is really something that you can take to heart.

There are at least 75 other valuable responses from a wide range of people, which I urge you to read. Just scrolling through the thread showed me patterns in the advice and some other interesting insights. Many, if not all state that you need a strong financial foundation if you really want to enjoy life. That is why I write this blog – to teach you to make money, and enable you to do things that you love. I encourage you to read the rest here: https://www.quora.com/What-should-all-first-time-entrepreneurs-know-before-starting-their-very-first-business

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