Mark Twain once said, “The secret of getting ahead is getting started.”
But if you’re an entrepreneur, you could probably write an entire book just on getting started and all of its moving parts. Here’s our breakdown of 10 things that entrepreneurs must balance simultaneously to launch a startup — and it’s pretty serious business.
1. Managing your time well
Time is something that we all never seem to have enough of, yet it’s the foundation for everything that needs to be tackled as a business owner. And the smaller your initial team is, the better you have to be at it.
Being a master at time management is a tricky art. It involves everything from knowing what distracts you to working in the right space, understanding what hours you’re most productive and how complex the tasks on your plate are.
2. Embracing change
If you can’t handle change, you won’t survive the business landscape. Markets fluctuate, new competition pops up constantly, and technology is changing the way people do business at an unprecedented rate.
Entrepreneurs who tackle change effectively always have an ear to the ground, keeping up with industry trends, new systems and more. But most importantly, they are masters at coming up with new strategies to adapt to change.
3. Accepting rejection
Entrepreneurship and rejection are pals that go way back. In fact, startup culture has become so mindful of rejection that the mantra “Fail fast: Fail often” was coined to accept the reality of setbacks, but to recover quickly and move forward with newfound knowledge.
Interestingly, successful entrepreneurs tend to have what’s become known as a high adversity quotient (AQ). Popularized by Dr. Paul Stoltz in 1997, the AQ is essentially a measure of one’s resilience. It’s determined by both the attitude one has towards life’s hardships, and the patterns of behavior that are used when facing them.
4. Leading effectively
As an add-on to rejection, starting a business sometimes means making sure everyone has direction, purpose and good morale no matter what’s happening. Morale booster is one of the lesser-highlighted jobs of a business owner, but it’s a common role that many take on when a lean and scrappy startup team is involved.
It could be a co-owner, a one-person marketing powerhouse, or even a spouse who is uncertain of what your financial future holds. Whatever the case may be, as the head of the business, your leadership and vision need to shine through and inspire when times are tough.
5. Building a business plan
Now that we’ve addressed the more abstract concepts of starting a business, it’s time to add logistics into the mix. Starting a business takes a lot of nitty-gritty details, many of which will culminate into a business plan. This includes an executive summary, competitive analysis, operations and management plan, marketing strategy, and much more.
Creating your business plan can take painstaking attention to detail. Many business owners enroll outside help to avoid mistakes in the process. Even still, this outsourced work will be informed by your own knowledge and vision of the business anyway, so even though you’ll be sidestepping spelling errors and much of the legwork, you’ll be investing time no matter how you slice it.
6. Registering your business
Get ready to swim in paperwork — registering your startup means making sure you’re legit, recognized by the government and ready to do business. This requires deciding whether you’re a non-profit, corporation, LLC, or a partnership, as well as registering with the IRS, obtaining the right permits and licenses, and more.
7. Getting insured
Professional liability insurance? Small business insurance? General liability insurance? For many, this is a more puzzling step of getting your business off the ground. But insurance is worth the time and consideration. According to investment and insurance company The Hartford:
“Accidents and legal claims are commonplace for today’s small businesses. Without business insurance, a small firm and its owners could potentially be on the hook for hundreds of thousands, possibly millions, of dollars in damage and liability claims.”
8. Securing funds
It takes money to make money, right? One of the most important steps on any startup journey is figuring out how you’re going to pay for your business to simply run.
To determine what your initial investment should be, first, you’ll need to determine your one-time startup costs (such as licenses and permits, initial inventory and company launch events) — as well as costs that you anticipate will keep your business running for at least one year (such as rent, utilities and salaries).
Options to get funding include crowdfunding, partnerships, pitching to angel investors and more. Creating the buy-in to get investment is a different story altogether.
9. Creating a budget
Even if you’ve determined how much you’ll need to get off the ground, in the midst of everything else you’re juggling, it can be easy to lose sight of how the money is working for the business. This makes simple and flexible budgeting a must.
Creating a good business budget includes documenting 7 key components like your estimated revenue, fixed costs and cash flow, to name a few.
10. Ensuring quality of products or services
With every step it takes to build a business, it’s all for naught if you haven’t made sure your product or service is capable of serving your target market well. If you’ll be producing large amounts of products, you’ll need to partner with a manufacturer and have oversight over the process to ensure quality. If you’re building an app, you’ll need to enroll a reputable developer who is easy to collaborate with.
Whatever the case, good entrepreneurs get involved and stay involved with what they’re selling, from ideation to execution.
So whatever task you may be in the thick of, know that our hats are off to you —because you’re probably juggling a lot more at the same time. Here’s to your success!