1. Love What You Do
It's a good idea to select an area which you already have an interest in, for a number of reasons. You already have some knowledge and expertise in this area which is invaluable and you won't necessarily be starting from scratch. If you chose an area which is already of interest to you it won't necessarily feel like work, especially when the going gets tough. No matter which area you chose you will undoubtedly have rough patches, when this happens you are much more likely to persevere because you have an attachment, a vested interest and a passion. If you have no interest you'll be much more likely to throw in the towel at the first sign of trouble.
2. Prepare a Business Plan
A business plan is not just something which you need to prepare to show to banks for a loan or to investors. A business plan is necessary and useful as it also serves as a guide to operate by. It's a great way to set goals, measure progress and achievements and keeps you on track with spending. Keep yourself organised and create a folder on your computer where keep your business plan and other relevant documents that you'll be using regularly, such as an invoice template or your sales documents.
3. Set Realistic Expectations
Don't expect miracles over night. Searching the internet you'll find thousands of people claiming to have generated millions over night with one scam or another. Genuine business ventures take time, care and persistent. There is no such thing as easy money or money for nothing, cliche but true, if it were that easy everyone would be doing it. Know that there will be obstacles and difficulties to overcome from the start.
4. Just Do It
The best way to gain knowledge and learn, is by doing. You can read all the books, take all the courses, study and research for years but until you take that first step you'll never actually know. It's like learning to drive, you have an instructor by your side in every single lesson with their safety pedals as a back up. You learn all the technicalities of driving but the real learning only starts when you venture out onto the road by yourself. Nothing and no one can prepare you for every eventuality. Research and educate yourself in your chosen field by all means but there will never be a right time to jump in. Even if you take a very small step into your venture, the sooner you get started the sooner you'll be on your way.
5. Ask yourself Why
Work out why you want to go into business for yourself. You need to have a good list of all the why's before you get started. This exercise can also be used as your goal indicator. If you're looking to have more time for yourself for instance, your business venture could take up to a year if not more before you can get a little time for yourself and your family and if that is your main focus you may get disheartened as you begin to build your business, when you realise your free time is not only limited but you have a lot less of it. Starting a new business is not your typical 9-5, it's more of a start when you wake, finish when your head hits the pillow. If you prepare yourself for this, it won't be such a shock to the system.
6. Budget and Finance
Looking to set up a business with very little start-up costs isn't too difficult in this day and age especially on the internet. You may be looking at setting up an online business and the costs of a website are little and nothing but once you have your website, whether you're selling products or providing a service you need to advertise and whilst your initial outlay may be minimal you have to be prepared to continue this for the life of your business. Will you require help to run things? Do you have marketing skills? Learning about marketing is going to be a fundamental part of your business growth, you can hire someone but if this puts a strain on your budget you may want to look into learning a few key tips yourself.
7. Building your Network
Networking is crucial in business whether online or in person. Every contact is either a potential customer, or may be someone who has advice or inspiration for you. You'll be surprised by the amount of successful business owners and entrepreneurs who are ready to impart valuable advice and tips and can point you in the right direction for all sorts of services. There are a whole treasure trove of supportive business owners online, you can read blogs, ask questions in forums etc and its all for free.
8. Learning to Adapt
Ensure that you set a realistic budget for everything from your internet connection down to stock or billable hours. Every single penny counts. There's no point in spending thousands on advertising if you're not seeing a return, you may have to go back to the planning stages. This is all part of your learning, so test out strategies and don't be afraid to adapt to the climate. There are all sorts of things that can impact a businesses growth and income and if your business is not responsive to the market or technology for instance this may cost you dearly.
It's very easy to be side-tracked, there are so many ideas and new ventures out there, so focusing on the goals you first laid out in your business plan are crucial. Focus on one task at a time. You can always make notes for ideas and projects you'd like to take up in the future but remain focused, otherwise you may fall foul of procrastination, looking at lots of different ideas and at the end of the day find you haven't achieved anything or actually done any work.
10. Believe in yourself
Self-Belief goes a long way, this is not whimsical advice this is fact, if you don't believe in yourself and your product or service then you cannot expect anyone else to. It may seem difficult especially when starting out but you have to learn to believe in yourself, this will impact every aspect of your business, from creating your Business plan right down to networking. If you don't believe what you're doing this will show in everything you do.
If you believe it, you can Achieve it!