When it comes to starting a business, it’s easy to see the appeal. Instead of earning money for someone else, you can build your own wealth. And, you get to call all the shots. It’s no wonder that half of all millennials want to start their own business within the next three years.
However, starting a business can feel overwhelming. To help you achieve your goals, we spoke with 10 different entrepreneurs who started their own businesses and who are now earning six figures (or more!) to see what their best business advice is.
Here’s what they had to say.
1. Narrow your focus
According to a survey by the Alternative Board, 27% of entrepreneurs said they would still start their own businesses, but would spend their time and energy differently; this time, they would direct more of their efforts in strategic planning and narrowing their focus.
Ben Huber, founder of DollarSprout, agreed with this message.
“Half productivity hack, half business advice, something that has helped us immensely in our business was narrowing our focus,” said Huber. “It may sound cliche, but I don’t think entrepreneurs often realize the forces that are dragging them in several directions at once.”
Rather than allowing yourself to get tugged in multiple directions, focusing on one goal or product can help you achieve better results.
“As an online business, getting consistent web traffic was an important factor in being able to scale to our current levels,” said Huber. “How did we do it? We worked from the ground up. We found a traffic source on one specific platform that was working for us and we went all in on it.”
2. Hire help
When it comes to managing your business, it’s easy to get caught up in doing everything yourself. That’s understandable — no one will value your business more than you — but it can severely limit your business’s productivity and output.
According to Stefany Marcelino, co-founder and managing partner of Orlando City Corporate Housing, knowing when to outsource work is essential for your success.
“You can’t be an expert at everything and with today’s technology, you can connect with freelancers and virtual assistants (VA) in areas where you need support,” she said. “The amazing thing is that you can connect with people globally and find help at any price point. Hiring help is particularly helpful for administrative tasks so you can focus on the areas that require your attention in order to grow.”
For tips on how to work with virtual assistants and freelancers, check out this article on what an awesome VA-entrepreneur relationship looks like.
3. Build a network
Having a solid network can help you build your brand, extend your client base, and become profitable. But what do you do if you don’t have one? Brett Romero, founder of Steady Option Income, had some suggestions.
“Having a network is one of the most important things to your success,” he said. “If you have zero connections and starting from scratch with a network, join courses you’re interested in that have a community component. Then interact with the instructor and people in that group. These interactions eventually lead to great advice and opportunities that can help grow your business.”
4. Keep your budget streamlined
According to the Alternative Board survey, more than a third of respondents said they wished they’d increased their budgets for marketing, sales, and lead development rather than paying themselves more.
Seb Dean, the founder of Imaginaire Digital, agreed.
“The best tip I think I could give would be to keep your finances tight for the first 3 years of business,” said Dean. “It’s very tempting once the business starts turning over a decent level of revenue to increase your overheads and start paying yourself a lot more. I’d suggest doing the opposite of this and make sure that you’re running a tight ship — this will put you in a strong position for future phases of growth.”
When you’re first starting out, it’s important to stick to the basics of expense budgets by asking yourself: “How much money should I spend and what should I spend it on?” The answer should ultimately be spending as little as possible, and spending on things that move your business forward.
5. Get a mentor
For Craig Murphy, owner of ALT Agency, having a strong mentor is essential.
“One of the best pieces of advice I could give any would-be entrepreneur, and something that I wish I had known when I was getting started, would be to get a business mentor,” he said.
“Starting a business can be a lonely place so a mentor will certainly be an asset, just so you aren’t going on the journey alone.”
A good mentor won’t tell you what to do, but will give you advice so you can increase your own business acumen and build your experience with planning, problem-solving, and growth.
Don’t have a mentor? Find out how to get influential people to help you.
6. Know your client
For your business’s success, it’s essential to know your client inside and out. According to Jacqueline Basulto, owner of SeedX, many people make mistakes when getting started.
“Identify and prioritize your client first!” she said. “So many people make the mistake of developing a product or service in a vacuum without doing enough research on what people actually need and are willing to pay for. The best businesses are serving a need a client already knew they had before the business even started.”
At GrowthLab we’re all about practicing two-step validation, which helps you understand what your target audience wants in a product and what it’s willing to shell out money for. The more you lean into understanding your client and their needs in this way, the more successful product and business you’ll have.
7. Don’t get caught in a price trap
When you’re just starting out, it might seem like a good idea to slash your pricing to beat competitors. But according to Reuben Yonatan, founder and CEO of GetVOIP, that can be a costly mistake.
“Beware low pricing!” he said. “While you might be tempted to offer low prices and discounts to convert your first customers, what happens when word gets out that you work at the lowest rates in the industry?”
You have to take into account what it’ll cost to produce your online product as well as the time it takes you to create it and manage it. Consider the subliminal messaging you’re giving your customers by charging less for these areas.
“Lower your prices, and you not only risk not making a profit, but you also risk running in the red, and fast,” Yonatan said.
8. Place a value on sales
According to Chaz Van de Motter, VP of sales and marketing with Elite Marketing Studios, people often prioritize the wrong things when running their businesses.
“Sales experience is the most underrated thing in business in my opinion,” he said. “As an entrepreneur just getting started, you must know the art of convincing people. Whether you are selling yourself, your business idea, or an actual product, knowing the sales process and speaking eloquently will serve as a catalyst to your business growth.”
9. Hire a good accountant and a good lawyer
Chances are, you’re going to need an accountant and a lawyer to run your business as it grows. It’s essential to find ones you can trust to prevent problems.
Don’t be tempted to skimp when you’re just starting out; that can come back to haunt you. That’s what happened to Dr. Ashley Hampton, a psychologist and consultant.
“I saved $300 a year on my not-so-good accountant the first two years I was in business, and that decision cost me $3,000 in problems he caused with the IRS,” she said. “I’m still working some of them out three years later.”
If you’re curious about learning what else it takes to be a successful six-figure entrepreneur, enter your name and email below to get our free Ultimate Guide to Starting an Online Business. In the guide, you’ll get the exact framework we’ve shared with thousands of our students to build high-earning businesses of their own. Enter your info below and get the guide today.