Is 2018 the year you're starting your new business for real? Congratulations! To improve your chances of success, follow these startup do’s and don'ts.
- Do write a business plan. No matter how well you think you understand your industry or how much experience you have, writing a business plan will help you think through all the aspects of your startup so you don't leave out any important factors. A business plan is also essential if you ever decide you need outside financing or plan to seek investors. Finally, a business plan gives you a roadmap to launching your business, and benchmarks you can use to assess your progress along the way.
- Don't give away too much of your company. When you're on a startup budget, it can be tempting to offer equity in your company to people who invest or assist you. In the long run, however, this approach will leave you with less control over your business as it grows. It also adds complexity to any compliance activities your business structure requires. If at all possible, either cut costs or take on debt instead of handing out pieces of your business.
- Do set up a professional email address. One of the first and easiest steps you can take for your startup is to register your business domain name and set up a professional business email. Sending your emails from YourBusinessName.com looks a lot more professional than sending it from a generic AOL or Gmail address. It not only signals to the world that you're serious about your business, but also helps brand your startup to everyone with whom you communicate.
- Don't spend money you don’t need to. Starting a business on a shoestring is easier than it's ever been, thanks to technology that enables you to work from home or the local coffee shop. Unless your business requires displaying a certain image to impress customers, there's no need to lease a fancy car, rent a costly office space or print a bunch of expensive brochures. Instead, put your money where it matters by investing in the tools that will help your business succeed. When it comes to marketing, digital marketing can give you the same results as traditional print marketing methods at a much lower cost.
- Do take care of yourself. The life of a startup entrepreneur is exciting and challenging, but also exhausting. You'll need all your energy to handle the 24/7 demands of a new business. To keep your batteries charged, make time to get enough sleep every night, fit in some type of physical activity daily, and eat a healthy diet. The payoff in increased stamina will be well worth it.
- Don't try to do it all yourself. Starting a business requires juggling dozens of different roles in a typical day. You can easily get burned out unless you get some help. Consider taking on a business partner or part-time employee to help you handle the load. If these options are beyond your budget, visit online marketplaces such as Freelancer.com, Guru.com or Upwork.com. You can find freelancers and independent contractors to help with your work at reasonable rates.
You're embarking on a great adventure — and following these do’s and don'ts will help you make the journey a success.