Do you have a business idea but haven’t officially launched? Well, this was designed specifically for you.
Oftentimes, people have great ideas but wait years or decades before finally becoming operation. Guess what, it doesn’t have to be that way!
I’ve had the pleasure of interviewing some of the most successful culinary entrepreneurs, and they’ve proved time and time again that getting started can be simple.
In this article, we’ll look at 10 tips to get you closer to diving headfirst into the business of your dreams.
1. Create Your Business Plan
Above all, the first true step is creating a plan. It cements the thoughts swirling around in your head and gives you something concrete to work toward. As Antoine de Saint-Exupéry said, “A goal without a plan is just a wish.”
The plan gives you an idea of how things will progress with your business, problems you may face, and solutions you’ll craft to combat said problems.
Even though things may not go according to plan, it’s important to at least create this baseline. While business plans can be daunting and overwhelming, they’re easier than you think. Two great resources are Live Plan and SBA.Gov. They have free and paid resources to help in the creation of your plan.
2. Put in Sweat Equity
The sweat you put in while launching will pay dividends down the road. You’ll even appreciate your journey with greater magnitude from all the hard work.
And though many think money is the solution, it’s not always about having money to hire someone. Oftentimes, bootstrapping and figuring things on your own is a far better solution. Why? Because it teaches you to be innovative, protect capital, and understand all the facets of your business.
With the amount of information online today, you can find tutorials for almost anything. From building websites, creating logo’s, filing your business entity, creating prototypes and on and on. So don’t underestimate the value of sweat equity and be prepared to dig in.
3. Be Open to the “Pivot”
What is the pivot? It’s the moment where you alter your business model to align with thinks like market conditions, consumer feedback, or even monetary reasons.
Almost all small businesses pivot at some point. It could be the original offering lacked consumer fanfare, or capital became scarce, in any case, pivoting is often necessary for survival. The key is being attuned to how your business takes shape and being open to making rapid adjustments.
Helix Health and Wellness, for example, initially offered services for men with chronic health conditions, but pivoted to cater to both genders in response to changes in health care spending. They did so to thrive, and it worked.
4. If You Have To, Start Small
Let me say, if you can’t afford the restaurant, start with a food truck. If the truck isn’t possible, start with a food cart. The point is, just start!
Some people wait decades – yes that’s plural – to find the money to get started.
Even the famous duo Ben and Jerry started small, and now they’re one of the most well-known ice cream brands in the world. With $12,000 in starting capital, they made it work by renovating a gas station.
Don’t waste opportunities on the mistaken belief that you need funding and a massive infrastructure (or idea for that matter). You can launch, prove your concept, and grow once you begin turning a profit.
5. Scrutinize Every Penny Spent
Your cash is one of your most valuable assets, and poor cash flow is one of the biggest killers of small businesses. Paying attention to every penny spent is essential, especially in the beginning.
Understand where your cash is going and don’t be afraid to negotiate prices for everything you require to launch.
It could be as simple as creating a spreadsheet to monitor your cash flow. Obviously, as you grow, you’ll want to invest in something more comprehensive, but don’t be overly concerned with getting some massive infrastructure in place when it’s not required to launch.
6. Be (Very) Selective About Your Team
Outside of capital and financial management, owners or team members are top reasons why small businesses fail every single year. Either they can’t agree, won’t “pivot,” or let ego take over, in any case, those involved should have great working chemistry.
Jim Rohn said, “You are the average of the five people you spend the most time with.” With this truth, it’s crucial you pick the right people. Not only to work alongside you, but to surround yourself with in all facets of life.
When vetting people, evaluate their credibility (off and online), uncover the values that guide them, and be hyper-focused on how they handle people and/or conflict. All of which are important. And finally, as it relates to friends and family, be extra cautious – enough said.
7. Focus On a Single Profit Center (First)
In the long run, it’s great to have several profit centers in your business, but when starting out, focus your efforts on getting one up to speed first.
Some people work to launch an empire from the very beginning, and it’s too much. In fact, any business you consider an “empire,” I’d encourage you to visit their web page and read their history. Chances are you’ll find the story of humble beginnings.
It’s wise to get one profit center up and running first and grow from there. Even if your business model is predicated on multiple solutions for your target audience, I assure you, the progress you’ll make by focusing on one first, and then scaling, will be greater than trying to get everything up and running at once.
8. Manage Your Personal Finances
Here’s a simple truth, the less you take from the business, the more it has to succeed. How can you keep as much money in the business as possible? You get your personal finances under control.
Let me ask, “do you know where every penny goes in your personal life?” If not, how could you expect to instantly become some expert operator if you’re not already in the habit of managing your spending?
When you’re attempting to launch, it’s the ideal time to cut on personal expenses, clip coupons, negotiate everything, buy used and manage your spending like a hawk.
Again, the more you can leave in the business to invest in its growth, the greater your chances of long-term success.
9. Ask, “How Could I Accomplish X Without Y?”
Do you remember your first attempt to solve an algebraic equation? Were you frustrated, discouraged, and ready to throw in the towel?
Starting a business is like solving an equation in the beginning. It’s a new way of thinking and takes time to find solutions. However, there’s a little trick I learned along the way. It’s the question, “How could I accomplish X without Y?”
For instance, let’s say “X” was “starting your business” and “Y” was “money.” Specifically, the money you didn’t have. In such case, you’d ask, “How could I accomplish starting my business without money?”
This little trick moves your brain past the problem, which is a lack of money, and opens you to a world of possibilities. When you begin thinking in terms of alternatives, you start becoming more resourceful – a skill required for business owners. I promise you’ll be amazed at the solutions you can concoct with this little trick.
10. Two Words: Persist & Resist
Og Mandino said, “I will persist until I succeed. Always will I take another step. If that is of no avail, I will take another, and yet another. In truth, one step at a time is not too difficult. I know that small attempts, repeated, will complete any undertaking.”
To get started, and continue on, it requires the persistence to keep going and resisting the urge to quit. At times you’ll be tired, no, exhausted, but you have to keep going.
Oftentimes, entrepreneurs give up because they just can’t see the light at the end of the tunnel, but if they’d push a little longer, they may have succeeded.
As you work to bring your business to life, put in your mind the desire to succeed and succeed you shall. As long as you persist through it all and resist the urge to quit.
Entrepreneurial Chef Magazine
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