In a recent interview series, The Future of Communication Technology, entrepreneurs were asked what they wished someone had told them before they started their business.
Fifty Entrepreneurs Share What They Wished They Knew Before Starting Their Business:
- Overcome Your Fears
- Think About Business Funding Early
- Understand Business Success Takes Time
- Embrace the Journey as Much as the Destination
- Find a Business Mentor
- Work on Achieving a Positive Mental Attitude
- Realize Your Knowledge Gaps
- Hire a High Performing Team
- Listen to Others
- Become an Effective Communicator
- Build a Strong Community at Work
- Find Work-Life Balance
Overcome Your Fears
Fear is part of everyone’s survival instincts, which makes it healthy until it stops you from progressing forward and you start missing out on opportunities. For most entrepreneurs, fear stalks them from many directions every day. As a survival instinct, some entrepreneurs become motivated by fear while others become crippled by it.
9 Tips to Help New Entrepreneurs Overcome Their Fears:
- If you understand the risks, you can reduce the fear. Do the homework.
- Understand some fears are irrational. Lean in and try to overcome them.
- Lean into your fears and take risks. Do not avoid things that scare you.
- If you are too afraid to fail, you are only going to make incremental improvements.
- Do not let fear consume you when you fail.
- Do not develop a fear because of nay-sayers. Believe in yourself and your vision.
- Do not stop progressing when you hear negative thoughts from others.
- Do not fear being the first to do something. Write the playbook.
- Do not fear hard work or making difficult decisions because they impact growth.
Even with the best advice from successful entrepreneurs, new entrepreneurs still experience fear that prevents them from reaching their full potential and experiencing business success. The good news is that entrepreneurs can learn strategies to overcome their fears.
Think About Business Funding Early
Starting a business requires an idea and money. Many entrepreneurs use bootstrapping to finance their company or ask friends and family for funding. Unfortunately, lack of funding is a serious problem preventing some companies from beginning operations to preventing companies from driving innovation at the speed required. Before you bootstrap for as long as you can, learn your options for funding your business. Once you know where to look, you will find many options, from grants to venture capitalists.
5 Tips for New Entrepreneurs about Business Funding:
- It is going to cost you a lot more than you think.
- Timing is everything. Pursue funding early so you can scale quickly.
- Hire someone with a lot of experience raising funds.
- Think about the pros and cons of each funding opportunity.
- Ask yourself if you want to control your destiny. If you do and you have the money, bootstrap.
Understand Business Success Takes Time
Have you ever wondered how long it will take you to see business success? Television and the internet regularly talk about fast-rising companies that see success quickly, like Zoom and Uber. However, most companies are built over long periods before they are profitable and successful. Before you begin your business, take the opportunity to plan how you will achieve success. To ensure you see success, you should also understand why businesses fail so you can avoid the pitfalls.
6 Tips for New Entrepreneurs on Success and Time:
- Success does not happen overnight.
- Plan to be in the game for a long time to experience success.
- Even if you produce something of value, it does not mean you will have immediate success.
- Be prepared to work more than 40 hours a week.
- It is easy to underestimate how much time things will take when you are a new. entrepreneur. Take things one day at a time.
- Read about why businesses fail. It will help you succeed.
Embrace the Journey as Much as the Destination
Success is not linear in life or business. It is not even unidirectional. Many times, before success, there is failure. Sometimes you move five steps closer to your goal only to move ten steps back. Failure and setbacks are discouraging and frustrating until you understand they offer valuable lessons, probably more valuable than your successes.
13 Tips to Help New Entrepreneurs Embrace the Journey on Their Way to Success:
- Some people will not like your business idea. Carry on.
- Others will think your business will fail. Believe in your vision.
- Understand that when you take risks, there is always a chance you will fail
- Failure germinates success if you take a moment to learn from it.
- Accept that there will be dark moments.
- Accept that you will experience failure.
- Your business can take over your life, do not let it.
- In the beginning, you may experience more problems and see more failures than successes. Do not give up.
- Remind yourself often that it is going to be ok. Then keep going.
- Do not isolate yourself. Network with others and learn from them.
- Lack of sleep is a real thing for entrepreneurs. Do not let it ruin your mental health.
- Enjoy both the small and large wins.
- Be thankful for all the lessons.
Instead of celebrating for a brief moment when you reach your goal, only to turn around and set a new goal, enjoy the journey and all it encompasses. Enjoy the life lessons on the way, the milestones, and the people you meet along the way. When you are present in the moment, you become acutely aware of what is happening now without distractions. Being present-minded is essential and rewarding with the right tips.
Find a Business Mentor
Find a business mentor to support your quest. If you find one with experience in your line of business or industry, that is a bonus. As a trustworthy individual with business experience, every entrepreneur can benefit from having a mentor. A mentor can prevent you from making many mistakes and help you experience success earlier. Your mentor can scrutinize your business, ideas, operations, and processes with unbiased eyes and give objective advice. Research shows that business mentors directly impact and improve the chances of a business surviving. According to Kabbage, 89 percent of small business owners who didn’t have a mentor wished they had one. If you have had a mentor, then you recognize just how valuable a mentor is to you and your business. When possible, return the favor by becoming a mentor yourself.
6 Tips for New Entrepreneurs About Business Mentors:
- Mentors have background knowledge you do not have.
- They often offer solid and varying opinions and perspectives.
- Remember to ask your mentor what you need to improve on regularly.
- One of your mentors should be a former founder who has taken a product from 0 to 1.
- A mentor is part of your core team. Make them feel that way.
- Mentors have their own network. They can help you expand yours with the right people.
Work on Achieving a Positive Mental Attitude
As an entrepreneur, you need a thick skin to shield yourself against negativity and criticism. But did you know it is critical to have a positive mindset to bolster mental strength? Having an optimistic disposition for every situation is not easy. Still, it gets easier once you understand why positivity matters, how it can benefit your business, and its impact on your mental health. Practice a positive mental attitude every day, so it becomes a habit with positive self-talk, a gratitude journal, and exercise. But do not stop there; continue to find ways to stay positive.
7 Tips for New Entrepreneurs on Positive Mental Attitude:
- You can get through the bad times with mental fortitude, a positive outlook, and patience.
- Do not take anything personally.
- Running a business takes a heavy toll on you mentally and physically. Reach out to your team to help balance the workload.
- Being an entrepreneur can be lonely. Build a supportive team to go along on the journey with you. You do not have to feel alone.
- There will be many times when things get overwhelming, and you want to quit. Believe in your vision and grit.
- Everyone fails and makes mistakes. These experiences help build success.
- Find humor and ways to ground your perspective because every day can look different when you are an entrepreneur.
Realize You Knowledge Gaps
Sure, you might have numerous degrees, a plethora of skills, and a wide range of experiences, but admitting to yourself that it is impossible to know everything ensures you do not make numerous mistakes on your business journey. The truth is you do not have to know everything. Rely on the talented people you hire to fill in the gaps. Finally, admitting there are gaps in your Knowledge helps promote the belief that we should all be students now and again and continue to learn. There is power in obtaining new knowledge.
8 Tips for New Entrepreneurs on the Importance of Knowing That You Don’t Know Everything:
- Do not be the person who is incapable of knowing you lack knowledge in a particular area.
- Do not be a know it all.
- The ability to learn is becoming easier. Enroll in an online course, listen to a podcast, watch a YouTube video, watch a TED Talk video, or enjoy a course in iTunes U. The possibilities are endless.
- Be open to learning from others like your team members.
- To be the best you can be, become a lifelong learner.
- Billions of people on earth have already communicated a significant number of important lessons. Read and learn from them. Do not reinvent the wheel.
- Consult actual data and statistics and then apply them to your existing knowledge when making business decisions.
- Always question what you think you know. Be your biggest critic.
Hire a High Performing Team
Many new entrepreneurs make the mistake of only focusing on developing and distributing their products. They miss the fact that building a great team and business success go hand-in-hand. Building a great team is not easy, but there are proven steps to hiring great talent. Spend time from the very beginning thinking about what your team will look like and the skillsets needed for each role. Create opportunities for everyone by working on diversity and inclusion strategies. Once you have hired your team, empower them to do great things instead of doing it all yourself.
10 Tips for New Entrepreneurs on Hiring a Strong Team:
- A company is never a single person. Remember, you cannot do everything.
- Spend more time on the team than product or customers. They are what makes success happen.
- Do not hire talented people and tell them what to do. It is the other way around.
- Empower the people you hire by encouraging them to bring their ideas to the table.
- Hire people that are better than you.
- Hire passion and talent, do not just look at the experience.
- Look at the whole person, not just the resume.
- Pay people what they are worth before you lose them.
- The most powerful asset you can have at work is a broad and deep network of people.
- Surround yourself with growth-minded people.
Listen to Others
The most successful entrepreneurs know that listening is an invaluable skill. As an entrepreneur, you have significant influence over your team members. If you are always speaking and never listening, your team may align their thoughts to yours simply because they believe your mind is already made up. When leaders give their undivided attention to others they gain a competitive advantage and become better leaders.
6 Tips for New Entrepreneurs on the Importance of Listening:
- Approach every conversation with the humility that you do not know everything. Then allow listening to take place.
- Listening is not just about hearing; it is also about actively reflecting on what is being said, so people know you actively listen.
- Listening allows you to understand your team.
- You absorb more information if you listen.
- Listening rewards you with wisdom.
- Listening builds trust.
Become an Effective Communicator
Everything begins and ends with communication. Acquiring good communication skills is as essential as creating a great product. Both can impact business success. To truly be a good communicator, learn the habits of effective communicators. When you have strong communication skills, you can set clear expectations and deliver information with clarity while ensuring your body language is in sync with your words. The content you provide should not leave certain groups of employees out.
Engage regularly with employees and encourage healthy discussions. Regular and healthy discussions lead to effective collaboration and strengthen team bonds. Similarly, improve your relationships with your customers and stakeholders through regular communication. Ask open questions and listen, really listen to their answers.
Lastly, manage your communication platforms carefully. Too many platforms can lead to scattered information. Scattered information can lead to misinformation, misinterpretation, and other communication issues.
8 Tips on Mastering Communication for New Entrepreneurs:
- Learn how to ask great questions.
- Check-in with yourself to see if you are engaging in passive-aggressive communication.
- Do not be afraid to over communicate.
- Setup cross-departmental communication.
- Be thoughtful about how you communicate.
- Practice inclusion. Do not leave people like women, people of color, and junior employees out of important communication .
- Communication outlets should not be disparate but instead connected, so things do not slip through the cracks.
- Phone calls are still significant. Do not rely only on messaging applications such as WhatsApp, Signal, and Slack.
Build A Strong Community at Work
Having a strong workplace community helps attract and maintain top talent and helps build a successful business. There are many ways to build a community in the workplace. The first thing is to think about how you will design your space. Does your workspace invite employees to engage with each other, or does it keep them separated? In addition, remember to give employees a voice so they can influence decisions and empower them to share honest feedback. But do not just stop there; show your employees their input counts by acting on it. Build and maintain trust every opportunity you get. Other options are available to build a sense of workplace community:
- Create a newsletter to keep everyone in the company informed.
- Demonstrate appreciation with employee rewards.
- Create regular events.
Ensure employees get to know you and other workers on a more personal level to build bonds. Harvard Business Review reports that “when people feel like they belong at work, they are more productive, motivated, engaged and 3.5 times more likely to contribute to their fullest potential.”
6 Tips for New Entrepreneurs on Building a Strong Community at Work:
- Be nurturing and lead through mindfulness.
- Practice inclusion by including those that are often left out of meaningful conversations.
- Ensure you engage with your remote workers regularly by investing in the communication and collaboration tools necessary, so they feel a sense of belonging.
- Make culture the responsibility of every single employee. Have a different team drive a new team bonding activity each month. The more people invest and contribute, the more they feel connected to their work and their teammates.
- Empower your team to make decisions.
- Foster a community through volunteer work. Commit to helping others as a team throughout the year.
Find Balance in Your Life
Enjoy making a significant impact at work as an entrepreneur without sacrificing your physical health, family, and friends. There are many reasons why work-life balance should be a priority for everyone. Time away from your business can prove to be very productive. Exercise can help clear a person’s mind. Spending quality time with loved ones can reduce stress and spark creative thinking. Even more important is health. It is a scarce resource, so do not neglect it. Putting your health at risk can be very costly to your business.
6 Tips for New Entrepreneurs on Finding Work-Life Balance:
- Do not become singularly focused on your company.
- Get enough sleep. Sleep deficit leads to an energy deficit. Have a hard cut-off point at work.
- Time away from your business can make you more creative and more valuable to your business.
- Do not work around the clock. Rely on the team you hired.
- Unchain yourself from your desk. Build walks into your workday.
- Stop your brain from racing with thoughts about work by training it to be present and in the moment.
For more advice on starting your business, read about David Liu’s Journey, the CEO of Deltapath. David describes some of the mistakes he made as an entrepreneur and what he learned from them. Find out the books he recommends entrepreneurs read. Lastly, discover why he believes in customers trying things before buying.
To read The Future of Communication Technology series, visit medium.com and thriveglobal.com.