The Entrepreneur’s Toolkit

Confident fashion designerAs of 2015, there were reportedly 27 million working-age Americans who were running or starting their own small business. According to the same survey, over half of the population thinks that entrepreneurship looks like a good option, with great opportunities for growth and reliable income. Are you one of that number, equipping yourself with an education now that will help you to build a new company?

Well, if that’s the case, then there are some important things that you need to understand going in. Entrepreneurship is a risky path, which is half of the appeal. After all, no risk, no reward, right? However, you can greatly increase your chances of success by having a comprehensive understanding of different aspects of business. Here are a few areas that are worth some extra study:
Startup meeting

Marketing

Often, the early marketing efforts of a new company will be the responsibility of owners and entrepreneurs. Thanks to the rise of new marketing, this responsibility often continues past the early phases. Now, when we say “new marketing,” we’re referring to the way that marketing has moved away from the days of Mad Men, when the whole goal was to have a hook, and to increase mass marketing exposure. Instead, marketing today is much more focused on hitting a specifically designated audience in order to get the most bang for your buck. It’s about catering your message to those who are most likely to become followers, customers, and clients. Furthermore, it’s less about manipulation and pandering, and much more about sharing stories, being genuine, and giving value. For example, if you’re familiar with the term “content marketing” you know that many companies are choosing to offer useful information for free–whether that’s in the form of how-to videos like these, shopping comparison guides, or tips for expansion–to help customers and potential customers to (1) get more effective use from their service, and to (2) build relationships of trust before someone even enters a professional relationships with the company. To learn more about how marketing has moved away from mass media, you can read this informative article.

What this means for you, of course, is that it’s your time to think like a marketer. Learn how to frame and share your story in order to effectively grow.

Hiring and Firing

One of the most difficult transitions for entrepreneurs comes when it’s time to hire new people to join your efforts. Transitioning from an entrepreneur to a manager isn’t for everyone, and sometimes you’ll have to hire someone from outside to do the heavy lifting and use their expertise in personnel management. However, knowing who to trust is really difficult. How can you be sure that they’ll catch and carry your original vision? Even worse, how do you know that they won’t take advantage of your trust?

Well, the first concern is addressed when you effectively grasp marketing. When you’re able to tell your own story, your purpose and mission, then new employees and managers are also able to reflect that story and purpose. The second concern can be mitigated when you take precautions to prevent fraud in your business. Although it might feel uncomfortable to put up measures that reflect mistrust, the truth is that many small businesses lose significant revenue because of internal fraud. Learn more about the precautions that you can take here.

Data and Reporting

Very few people like to spend their time looking closely at numbers. However, it’s an essential part of any business plan, big or small. Although you might prefer to spend your time on big picture things, you need to be able to quantify success in order to grow. This allows you to identify the areas of your business that are the most profitable, and whether the return on investment on many of your choices (i.e. purchasing new materials, hiring on someone to handle different tasks, investing in a marketing campaign, etc.) is enough to justify doing it again in the future.
People in office looking at charts
Additionally, getting effective data on your business will help you to grow and advertise it. It will help you to wisely scale as you grow, and to better reach the audience that you need to support expansion.

Scaling

Speaking of growth, scaling is one of the most common impediments for small businesses. Either they hit a wall and they just don’t know how to transition from a small-scale operation, or they expand their production too fast, and it’s not properly sustained by revenue. Getting effective data will help you to know a thing or two about how and when to expand. The other key to scaling wisely is to work in some good wiggle room. That means that instead of investing a lot from the beginning, you’re making money decisions that can bridge the gap between small and large. This might mean getting a storage unit for extra equipment instead of moving to a huge office downtown, until you really have the revenue that can support that big office. It might mean hiring on part-time employees and interns rather than taking on a large crew of full-time employees, until you understand what the actual workload will be.

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