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Starting your first business - some sound advice
Five Tips for First Time Entrepreneurs
It seems so long ago that I started my first business. Since that time, I've created several successful businesses and learned a lot of lessons along the way. There are several things I wish I would have known in the early days of my entrepreneurial efforts that I hope will help some other first time entrepreneurs on their path to success.
You'll Work Harder for Yourself than You Ever Have for a Boss
If you think owning your own business is simple or means you get to lounge around all day long, think again. While this may be an end result after a lot of hard work, it will certainly not be the beginning of your business. You will work long hours, long nights and at times you'll feel overwhelmed at the amount of effort owning your own business can take. But, also know that owning your own business and working hard for yourself can be one of the most satisfying feelings of your life.
Don't Confuse Setbacks with Failures
They say there is no successful business owner who hasn't failed with at least one business before they started the one that "struck gold". It is important that you take each failure you encounter on your path to success as an opportunity to learn something. This helps you to not repeat your mistakes and makes you more prepared for your next business venture. In addition, things that seem like failures can turn out to only be minor or temporary roadblocks that can be overcome with time and hard work. Entrepreneurs learn from everything they do, though they may not always "succeed".
You Still Need a Life
Many new business owners work all hours of the day and night. While hard work and a lot of hours are certainly required for an entrepreneurial lifestyle, you also need to make time for your personal life - whether it be for family, friends or personal hobbies. You need to take time for your own personal well being. In addition, if you sit behind your computer, in your office or on a "jobsite" all day, every day, you will miss great networking opportunities out in the "social great beyond" of your world. All work and no play makes Jim, or Jane, a very dull person.
Good Bookkeeping is Essential
This isn't an understatement. My first time in business, I paid for something here, something there and never kept receipts or records of any expenses. I told myself I would "one day when the business got off the ground". Eight months later, my business was booming and it was tax time. Not only did I lose out on a lot of business expenses I couldn't claim due to no proof, I ended up paying an accountant triple what I would have had I not been a nightmare client with no records or receipts. Don't wait for your business to "take off" - keep records from the very beginning - it will make it a habit, make your taxes owed less painful should the business start booming and will make your accountant more pleasant than mine was.
The Internet Isn't The Magic Pill
If you are a new business owner starting your own business based on the Internet, then this part is for you. The Internet is not a "magical flow of endless customers". The adage "build it and they will come" couldn't be further from the truth online. You need to work an Internet business as hard as you would a "brick and mortar" establishment. While starting a business online requires less start up and overhead in many cases, it is NOT free. You will need to put out money, or spend a lot of time learning new skills (sometimes both), to make a successful site on the net. It takes marketing, hard work and a willingness to learn. If you think you can slap up a website and people will pile into your shopping cart, then you may want to take some time to actually plan your business model.
Good luck with your business. Being an entrepreneur has ups and downs, but it can be the most satisfying and rewarding (both personally, professionally and financially) of your life if you put your heart and soul into doing what it takes to succeed.
Audrey Hoffman is a successful entrepreneur who owns several businesses - including http://www.speedy-incorporation.com - a site that offers online incorporation services as well as information about forming an LLC or corporation across the United States.
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