Several entrepreneurs who've seen success in creating a business shared these important tips for getting started:
- Start your business while you are still working, if you can. "It takes 18-36 months on average to break even, let alone replace your corporate salary," said Melinda F. Emerson, the "SmallBizLady" and author of Become Your Own Boss in 12 Months.
- Have passion for your company and your product. "It will help to get through the bad times and thrill you during the good times," said Mayfield.
- Do your homework. "You might have a great idea for a business but success is going to be built on what other people think," said Gene Fairbrother, lead business adviser for National Association for the Self-Employed. "For any start-up it is critical that they do some market research to determine if they can really generate customers who will generate revenues. A common cause for a business to fail is that the person starting the business is in the minority of people who thought it was a good idea."
- Only listen to those with experience. "When you decide to become an entrepreneur, you're likely to run into some opposition," said Matt Toren, co-author of Small Business, Big Vision. "Unfortunately, the push-back often comes from those whose opinions matter most to you -- your family and friends. It will help if you remember to only listen to people who have done what you want to do."
- Be passionate about customer service. "People buy from people they like, and in the early stages of a new business with a limited marketing budget, word of mouth is key," said Rene Shimada Siegel, president and founder of High Tech Connect. "Make every customer feel like they are your only customer. Under-promise and over-deliver. Listen carefully so you can take away their pain. Fix it quickly (for free) if it's not perfect. They will never forget how you made them feel."
- Engage your circle of influence as much as possible. "Your friends, family, employees and acquaintances can be your best marketers and promoters," said Robb Fleischer, chief operating officer of AMSI Real Estate Services in San Francisco. "You'll want people close to you who specialize in the aspects of your business that you're not as passionate about, or requires a different skill-set, such as attorneys and accountants."
- Don't try to raise capital; bootstrap instead. "It is nearly impossible for start-ups to obtain bank loans," said Scott Gerber, founder of the Young Entrepreneur Council. "Angels and venture capitalists -- and even friends and family in many cases -- want to see your business in action and succeeding before forking over a check. Bottom line: Launch a business you can start with the resources you have at your disposal, bootstrap and cut back on anything that isn't essential, and prove your business works before you seek any investment."
Over to you:
What do you think about starting a business?