When you start the process of starting a business, you’ll find plenty of information online. You’ve likely heard the same core advice again and again: build a business plan, understand your taxes, etc.
While those overarching recommendations remain the same regardless of your industry or idea, it’s the smaller tidbits that keep things moving behind the scenes.
Here are ten tips for starting a small business that you haven’t heard of.
Learn from Your Competition
Many established entrepreneurs and business experts will tell you not to worry about the competition; focus on your business instead. Those people are right, but that doesn’t mean you should ignore your competition entirely.
Look to your competition for inspiration, not to emulate their approach, but to do it better. What gaps are they missing? What opportunities for improvement are they not seeing? That’s your entry point into the hearts and minds of your target customer.
Prioritize Personal Finance
As you navigate the world of business, you’ll hear a lot about managing small business finances. However, it’s equally important to get your personal finances in order.
There will be a lot of overlap between your personal finance habits and business financial habits. Don’t neglect one to nourish the other.
Know Your Why
Understand why you’re pursuing this business beyond making money. Many small business opportunities can bring you success— why did you choose this one?
Ideally, you’ll choose something you’re good at and something you enjoy. Your “why” will help you move forward even on the toughest of days and will also help you take care of yourself as a business owner.
Consider Your Social Group
Some life events can be very telling about who your friends really are. If your friends diminish your efforts or try to take advantage of your business, it’s time to re-evaluate with whom you share your precious time.
Do a Few Things Well
It can be tempting as a small business owner to cast a broad net and capture more customers. However, spreading yourself too thin, especially in the early days, will ultimately have the opposite effect. Keep this in mind as you scour through Ponoko ideas for your next design project or have someone ask if you can do something outside your usual scope of practice.
Instead, pare your options down to a well-planned and executed core offering. Focus on providing the utmost quality and customer service before you expand.
Plan to Fail
You will experience failures as a small business owner— that’s a universal truth. That’s why it’s important to shoot for the best but plan for the worst. Put a plan in place that covers what happens if you don’t reach your goals or your product launch flops. Make a note of those failures so that you can transform them into lessons in the future.
Bootstrap Before Financing
Many modern startups focus on financing before diving into product development. However, there’s much to be learned from entrepreneurs in under-developed countries. These entrepreneurs don’t have the same finance-first mentality.
Instead, they bootstrap their business and grow slowly and sustainably. This approach prevents the quick burnout and financial failure that many small businesses face today.
Start Building an Audience Now
Don’t wait until your product or service is ready before you start building an audience. The moment you have a spark of an idea, start talking about it. Get on social media and create an online presence. Talk about what you can offer and start pushing people into the early stages of the sales funnel.
If you start trying to build a rapport with your target audience when your product offering is ready, you’ll already be months behind.
Don’t Wait for Perfection
There’s no use waiting for perfection because it probably doesn’t exist. If perfection existed, there’d only be one iPhone model, and the phrase “new and improved” wouldn’t exist either.
Your product or service should be great and well-planned. However, you don’t know what you don’t know until your customers identify what’s missing. You can get closer to “perfection” with strong market research and beta testing, but there’s always going to be room for improvement. Stop waiting and start selling.
Invest in Outsourcing
Entrepreneurs often juggle many roles during the early days of their business. While there are things you can handle yourself to save money, outsourcing is the key to freedom.
Remember to measure the opportunity cost of everything you do. If you’re spending eight hours trying to figure out your website, that’s eight hours you could spend looking for customers. Know when frugality crosses the line into being cheap.
With these ten tips, you can fill the gaps in your business plan and hit the ground running.