Starting your own business can seem like a daunting task, but it doesn’t have to be tough. When I started Weebly with two of my University colleagues at the age of 23, I had no idea of the potential success it could generate. The ability to stay motivated has kept us focused on the task at hand and enabled us to grow the company into the success it is today – with 35 million users in over 170 countries. In doing so I’ve learnt a lot, and here are some of my key tips to help you to start and grow your own business.
1. Make sure there is a market for your product
Creating a product that people actually want is essential. The key is research, something which is not as difficult as it may seem at first. It doesn’t need to be a lengthy, difficult or expensive process if you use the resource you already have access to consumers. Everyone is a potential client for your product, so talk to friends and family, search around on the Internet, or create a survey to get feedback on your product and market.
2. Don’t keep your business a secret
There’s no need to be shy about your concept. Too often, people hide away their business ideas in fear that someone else will steal them, but there’s no reason to. In business, a good idea is one thing, but it’s very different to put the effort in to build it into a success. Everyone has ideas but the majority of people don’t have the motivation or time to grow those ideas into a successful business, and that drive is what will set you apart.
3. Set yourself goals and stick to them
Starting out can be overwhelming and a common result is losing your focus. The key to combatting this is making sure you don’t get caught up with the small details. Making a perfect logo or writing extensive business plans aren’t things to get stuck on when you’re first starting out. A young business should expand and grow so there is no point wasting your time with the specific, time-consuming details in the early days. Take risks and focus on identifying some simple objectives that you can work towards now.
4. Success doesn’t happen overnight – you earn it
You’re pretty likely to end up disappointed if you’re expecting your business to be an overnight success. How you deal with failure, however, is likely to reflect the future success of your business. Everyone makes mistakes, but it is how you cope with them, what you learn from them and how you move on that really counts.
5. Be present online
These days you don’t need to be a genius to create an accessible and enticing website for your business. Being present online enables you to engage with a larger potential client base, providing consumers with an opportunity to access your business 24/7. In an age of constant technological expansion, however, don’t just stop there. Going the extra step by improving mobile access for your site or adding SEO tags can help boost your search ranking, and provide further opportunities for growth.
6. There’s no ‘I’ in team
It’s important to place trust in the people you’ve hired. Finding the right balance between micro-managing and delegation is a hugely underrated skill when creating a business. Give your team the space to succeed, and switch your focus to your own objectives rather then theirs. Failure to do so will only result in losing sight of your objectives and could be detrimental to your future business success.
7. Keep your business in touch with your customers
Whilst it is mandatory that your customers want your product, they also need to understand and be on board with your values. Consistently communicating your brand’s offering will keep customers engaged throughout your journey. It’s also important that employees are aligned and bought in to the company’s goals and values, so regular internal communication of what your business is all about is essential.
8. Don’t feel the need to go it alone
Finding my co-founders was central to the development of Weebly. Investors have learnt to focus their investment not on the idea but on the team behind it with investment won by teams who appear able deliver on the potential of a business. A team is key to brainstorming as they question things and share different views - an important function for a business at any stage.
9. Money, money, money
Cash flow is essential to any business and a positive cash flow from the beginning is important for continued growth. Ideally, this is achieved by clients paying up front for products and services. Alternatively, asking for deposits on work up front and receiving balance on delivery can create positive cash flow.
10. Hire and keep talented people
A successful company has its roots in a talented team who produce good ideas. This can be difficult when your business is young. A lack of money and reputation can mean hiring mistakes are costly. Making your business appealing, however, by effectively communicating what makes your company so exciting, can attract the best talent to your company. Retain their services by empowering them, trusting them to take ownership of their work.
Remember that the most important part of your business is you. Both vision and drive must emanate from you directly, and by focusing on your objectives and effectively communicating your brand’s values and goals, you can keep yourself and those around you motivated and on track to future success.
By David Rusenko, founder and CEO of Weebly