Actionable Tips for First-Time Entrepreneurs
Network by getting involved with your community
You undoubtedly already know that you need to network in order to get further in business, but networking shouldn't be limited to just people in your industry. And you shouldn't be only focusing on networking with the big-wigs (although that can prove useful). Start getting involved with your community as another way to network. Join a group that is based around your interests and entrepreneurship. (Check here to see if there are any small business meet-ups in your area). Volunteering is another great way to meet people at the same time that you help your community.
-Your community involvement will get your name and business recognized within the community, and you will also be making your area a better place to live and work. It's a win-win situation.
DON'T quit your day job
Unless you're ready to dive into your new small business for 60 hours a week, oftentimes without pay, it's a good idea to keep your current job, or at least work part-time somewhere, so you can have some cash reserves ready in case your small business isn't as profitable as you planned in the first year. If this isn't possible for any reason, then at the very least be frugal with the cash you do have. Sign a cheaper lease, or buy a house and rent it to roommates.
-Decrease your burn rate so you have more time to turn your business profitable. Most should be prepared to lower their standard of living temporarily--for the promise of a future, much greater standard of living.
Get specific help from friends, family, and your newly found community
Don't think that being an entrepreneur means you have to do absolutely everything by yourself. In fact, you'll fail if you believe that. Just ask past Handshakin Guest John Paul DeJoria. He says, "Success unshared is failure."
Ask for help when you need it, and take help when it's offered. Ask other business owners for advice, ask your techie friend to help you figure out your new software, ask your parents if you can move in for a few months so you can avoid paying rent while you're still figuring things out, ask for anything you need help with to get your business up and running. Oh, and make sure to GIVE help a shit ton to increase your ability to seek help. Then, network more to increase the caliber of people giving you help. It's easy, go shake some hands.
-You might hear no a few times, but the more likely scenario is that you will hear yes, and those yeses will help your business more than you can imagine.
Starting a new business is exciting, and the perks that go with entrepreneurship are definitely worth the risks. But that doesn't mean it's an easy road. Start preparing now for what's ahead. Make local connections, save aggressively however you can, and ask for help when you need it.
-For more information on what you need to know as a first-time entrepreneur, apply to the Handshakin Startup Pre-accelerator.
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