As any business founder knows, lessons that are learned in the early stages of business development can pay off in a big way during the later stages. Those important learning points and other moments of epiphany provide useful insight that can be used to guide others as they begin their entrepreneurial journeys, as well.
Jose Duarte, one of the most successful entrepreneurs to come out of Costa Rica, has built a career out of creating new businesses from the ground up. He has learned the lessons and knows the pitfalls associated with startups. Duarte shares seven tips that will help any entrepreneur find success.
Small businesses are frequently – and often incorrectly – advised to pursue the cash and disregard the value. Entrepreneurs need to understand “buyer’s remorse” and deal with it from the onset of the business. Create value in the product or service, be confident in the value and stick with it, but be prepared to offer a way out in the off chance that a customer decides to back out.
Be familiar with financials. Keeping the books is a task that numerous entrepreneurs fear; something that simply must be addressed when they can find time in their busy schedule. “This is not the proper way to address the issue,” explains Duarte. “Instead of looking at it as a task, entrepreneurs need to see their finances as a story, one that can enable them to reveal development opportunities in the event that they invest some energy getting a handle on the numbers. There are assets out there that can help make this process much simpler and easier to manage.”
Employ automation and outsourcing early in the business development stage. In the beginning phases, entrepreneurs can often experience a great deal of pressure as they juggle more than they ever imagined. However, a steady flow of clients results in repetitive functions, which can be automated to free up a significant amount of time.
Outsourcing can also be a time-saver. Says Duarte, “Time is the only asset we can’t get a greater amount of, so make the best use of it. Outsourcing and automation will allow you to spend more time building the business and not just trying to keep it afloat.”
Recognize your North Star metric. The North Star metric is used to determine the core value of a product or service and how this value is conveyed to consumers. It needs to be in sync with the company’s overall vision. “You have to characterize your North Star metric as soon as possible when launching a new business,” says Duarte. “Having the metric as a primary focus will allow the entrepreneur to keep a level head when things get difficult, allowing for rational decision making as opposed to emotional.”
Invention and innovation are not the same thing. This is an idea that has caused much disarray among new business owners when they develop a new product or service and then look to others to find out if value was created. “Innovation says that the market, the customer base, the competitors and the opportunities are understood. Development inside this setting is foremost to continuous achievement and business presence. On the off chance that an organization isn’t improving, it just implies that there is a gigantic open door for a current or new contender to enter and cause a lack of continuity in the market,” explains Duarte.
Debt is the enemy. A great number of startups convey debt. The entrepreneurs feel that the future will bring the revenue to pay off the obligations, but this is often not the case. Debt has to be managed carefully with a disciplined approach to how it will be repaid. Startups often run into unanticipated issues that can cause debt to get out of control, so it’s important to ensure that it doesn’t make the business vulnerable or that it decreases the ability to adapt to new, unexpected situation.
The small details are not so small. First impressions are important. Every aspect of the business, from writing a simple email to the minute details of the product or service, everything is important. Take a little extra time to ensure that you pay attention to the details and that you’re satisfied with all of the results. “This will help your customers gain confidence in you and help to grow the business,” says Duarte.
Starting a new business is both challenging and rewarding. There isn’t much sense in accepting the challenge if you’re not willing to put everything you have into it.