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As an entrepreneur, starting a business can be exciting, demanding, challenging, and, most of all, risky. While some entrepreneurs thrive in such environments, the reality is that a significant number of start-ups do not make it past their first year. However, this doesn't have to be your fate. The following 10 tips can help you better prepare for and navigate the sometimes-harsh realities of entrepreneurship.
1. Know your tax processes
'Unintentional' tax fraud is an issue a number of entrepreneurs face. This is because not all entrepreneurs know enough about the taxes and tax processes that are applicable to their business. The task of tax compliance and filing is often the job of a consultant who may falsify information or pocket your money without fulfilling their job requirements. It is important to note that most consultants ro advisors do not engage in such behaviour. To avoid falling prey to such a situation, however, it is worth making sure you know and understand your tax processes well.
2. Perfect your time management
Time isn't something entrepreneurs have an abundance of, and when you are in the start-up stages of your business it is up to you to manage your time accordingly to make sure you manage and have oversight of all of the aspects of your business. From administration to bookkeeping, to marketing and everything in between, it is your responsibility to make sure everything is running smoothly. If not, your business may falter or fail.
3. Embrace innovation
Without constant innovation, businesses eventually stagnate and fail soon after that point, especially in today's business landscape. It is important to fully embrace innovation as it is crucial to driving business growth. This remains true for start-ups and established businesses.
4. Pursue the future vigorously
Entrepreneurs often start a business with a vision of where they would their business to be in the future, and the goals they would like to achieve. While it's likely that others may not share this vision, you need to keep your vision in mind and pursue the future in which it is realised vigorously. Your vision should be at the forefront of your business, and every action you take should take you a step closer to it.
5. Seek networking opportunities
Networking is an important way to not only publicise your business but to also grow it through opportunties that arise from the business connections you make. Networking allows entrepreneurs to exchange ideas and share resources. Take the time to actively engage in and devote your energy to it.
6. Do not settle for mediocrity
The standards you set for your business from the outset will set the tone going forward. Do not settle for mediocrity. Instead, set high standards (for work, products, behaviour, and performance) that you continually strive to reach and maintain. In time, your business will reap the rewards of this effort because it will become synonymous with high quality, which will help broaden and strengthen your customer base and foothold in the industry.
7. Never stop learning
Information is one of the most valuable and invaluable commodities today. If you continue learning not only about your business, field, industry, and the broader market in which you operate, you will be better positioned to proactively identify and address challenges, and seek opportunities to grow your business through innovation, for example. Becoming an expert in your industry will only help to grow and strengthen your business.
8. Be willing to make personal sacrifices
Personal sacrifices of some kind often go hand-in-hand with entrepreneurship. While it may not be necessary for you to actively seek ways in which to make numerous sacrifices (to your detriment) it is important to acknowledge that there may come a time (or multiple) when you are required to make personal sacrifices for the good of your business. Do not shy away from these instances. Take them in your stride and keep pursuing your vision.
9. Have savings that are separate from capital
One of the most stressful aspects of entrepreneurship is money. It is also one of the main reasons that businesses fail. When starting out, it is a good idea to make sure you have enough money in your personal savings (three months' salary or more) to support you through potentially tough financial times. This money should be separate from your capital to ensure it remains untouched. It will give you peace of mind (to an extent) knowing you have something to fall back on.
10. Champion your business
Part of the reasons why businesses succeed is because someone (or many people) believes in the businesses vision and is willing to be its champion to make sure it succeeds. It's great if you can be the passion behind and champion for your business, but you don't need to be both. If you can't be your business's champion, however, it is necessary to find someone who can. They will be your partner or co-founder and they will help you make sure your business not only makes a profit but also maintains a healthy cash flow.
The content in this article is based on the article titled 10 things I wish I knew when I started my business originally published on the The Small Business Site.