Ross Buhrdorf, CEO & Co-Founder, ZenBusiness shares what it takes to go from a first-time, newbie business owner to one that’s seasoned and building a thriving business.
The past year has been one of the most, if not the most, challenging times for businesses. Large and small, Wall Street to Main Street, everyone has been deeply impacted by the coronavirus.
Despite the many roadblocks brought on by the pandemic, we have also seen a renaissance of entrepreneurism in the U.S. as a new wave of go-getters step out to create their own business success. In fact, ZenBusiness recently surpassed 110,000 businesses formed on our platform – over 80,000 of which were created during the pandemic. According to a recent ZenBusiness survey, most of these new entrepreneurs say that being their own boss was the single most important reason why they decided to start their own business.
As the CEO of ZenBusiness, a company whose mission revolves around the success and growth of micro-businesses (businesses that have less than 9 employees), I have been amazed and inspired by the nation’s entrepreneurs who have had the tenacity to take their first steps into the business world during this time of uncertainty.
I have been an entrepreneur for over 30 years and know how intimidating it can be to start and run your own business. But I also know the upside of entrepreneurship: limitless opportunities and the path to economic freedom. ZenBusiness helps alleviate these pain points by providing the tools and resources entrepreneurs need not only to start their business but to make their first dollar and become successful. The following are some tips I think every entrepreneur should know as they take that first step towards economic independence.
Honesty is the Best Policy
Above all else, being honest with yourself, your business, and your customers is key to building success. I have experienced that most businesses fail because the business owner isn’t being clear with who they are and what they can provide.
Before you decide to make the jump into entrepreneurism, ask yourself: is your service or product something the public really needs? If you sense any doubts, you may want to reconsider your business plans and pivot.
According to CB Insights, the #1 reason startups fail is because there was no actual market need. You can’t fool your customers, so the sooner you figure out if they are going to buy your product or service, the better.
Another question to ask yourself is, “are you being transparent with what you offer and how much it costs?” Finding customers – and creating loyal ones – is critical to success. If you are upfront with what you can provide and how much it will cost, potential customers will appreciate the transparency and feel confident choosing your business.
Before You Start
When I started my entrepreneurial journey 30 years ago, valuable time and money was spent searching for what I needed to start and run my own business. Even today, there is seemingly an endless array of factors to consider as you get on the path to entrepreneurship. Things like company name, tax advice, website design, and marketing tools are just the tip of the iceberg of what you will need to turn your business dreams into a reality.
The following are my three top pieces of advice that I would give to any first-time entrepreneur:
- Having a website presence enables businesses to make more revenue in their first year. ZenBusiness customers who created a website after signing up are earning $15,000 more than those that don’t yet have a website.
- When starting out, use 100% of your time, energy and funds to find and know your customer. This is critical for surviving your first year.
- While having a competitive price can get you in the door, the real clincher is providing greater value and more services. Simply put, do more for your customers than you’re asked or expected.
Find a Mentor
As an entrepreneur, I know how hard it can be to go it alone. According to our customer survey, a majority of new entrepreneurs said self-doubt prevented them from starting their business sooner than they did. The good news is that you don’t have to waste your precious time and money on figuring it out yourself – seek support and information from the experts.
I recommend finding a mentor who can take the time to invest their knowledge and time into your business and someone who understands the service you’re providing and the industry you’re in. Mentors can provide valuable advice on how to scale your business, where to find new opportunities of growth, and any other business problem you may be looking to solve.
You never know where you might find your mentor, so make sure to surround yourself with a diverse network of people both online and in person. Go outside your comfort zone and tap mentors who can give you a different perspective on your business. In fact, you may find it beneficial to seek out a mentor in a completely different industry than your own.
As a mentor myself to many entrepreneurs, I find I always seem to get more than I give. Often, this is the way these things work when you pay it forward and help someone else. So, don’t be shy, jump in, and ask for help.
For networking events in your area, regularly check your local Small Business Administration chapter for event listings and join LinkedIn groups for your industry. You can also try SCORE, a site that can connect you virtually to over 10,000 volunteer business experts, as well as monitor local Chamber of Commerce websites and social media channels for upcoming events and programs tailored to small businesses.
More than 2 million Americans have started freelancing in the last year, with roughly 60 percent of those individuals saying that no amount of money would convince them to take a traditional job again. If you were considering becoming an entrepreneur, no time may be better than the present to turn your dream into a reality.
Ramon Ray is a small business expert, motivational keynote speaker and founder of SmartHustle.com. He’s a global speaker, best-selling author and works with tech brands to help them better reach small business owners.