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Here are my top tips on running a business, gained from personal experience:
Do a business plan before you launch any business, big or small. Unless it is truly a hobby, it needs to have a business plan. Find someone who you respect enough to tear it to pieces. Then re-think it and re-write it. Think about why you want to do what you want to do – who else is doing it? If it is such a good idea, why has no one else done it yet? Has someone tried and failed? What can you learn from them? Focus on the customer and the competition – this is what will ultimately make or break your idea.
Be out there – you are a brand or trying to create one. I have super talented friends who do super talented work, but can’t market themselves – you can have a great product, but unless you market it, no one will ever know about it. You can do a lot of marketing yourself – social media, blogging, even PR. I have never paid for PR and whenever approached night or day, I never turn down a PR opportunity. No PR is bad PR.
When I started both my businesses, I started on a shoe-string budget and thought about every penny I spent. As you grow and gain traction, you can definitely spend more money and upscale. But it is very hard to downscale. You can do almost everything on your own these days – from building websites to invoicing, using many templates available on the web. You can also outsource certain functions without growing your team unless the revenue justifies it. So it is ok to be stingy when starting out until you prove that the spend is justified.
It takes me a long time before I take no as an answer. In fact, I don’t. Be persistent in whatever you do. Don’t give up. Being an entrepreneur has many ups and downs. You are not guaranteed a paycheck and you might feel great on certain days and super depressed on others, depending on how things are going with the business. However, it is all about being consistent and persistent. Persistency and hard work always pays off in the end. It might not be the solution you are looking for, but then it probably wasn’t the right answer to begin with. It takes time for any idea to generate revenue and if it didn’t everybody would be doing it.
*Deepali Nangia runs Empower, a social consultancy focusing on providing business planning and strategic advice to female entrepreneurs. Her website is www.empowerbizsupport.com and she can be reached on firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow her on @deepalinangia.