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You’ve got a great business idea, perfect company name, ordered business cards and launched the website. You’re good to go, right? Unfortunately, no. If you’ve ever had a vision for starting your own business, don’t think for a minute that it doesn’t go without tremendous challenges and hard work. No one is saying that owning your own company doesn’t reap great rewards, because it does. However, many new business owners do not realize the amount of personal labor that is invested in running your own venture. After starting up BeenVerified, we learned a thing or two about sacrifice and hard work. After 9 years of ups and downs, growth and success, there are a few tips I can share with others thinking of starting their own company:
1. Life as You Know it is About to Change
You’ve been warned. Your significant other will hate you and constantly complain of neglect. Your family will be calling just to check that you’re still alive. Your friends, well, let’s just say you will probably have a lot less friends then when you started the company. Dramatic as it sounds, it’s true: a successful start-up will consume your life. In order to take that kind of chance and make those kinds of gains, failure—or, at least, uncomfortable compromise—is inevitable in other areas of your life.
2. Be Ready to Wear Many Hats
“CEO” conjures up all sorts of idyllic images like wearing an expensive suit and calling all the shots while sitting behind a big desk. In all actuality, founders should be ready to serve as receptionist, HR, accounting and janitor all at once. No job is too big or too small. Employee roles and responsibilities inevitably overlap even once the start-up is off the ground. Being your own CEO might sound like the ultimate freedom, but getting your own company off the ground means operating on all cylinders all the time and in all roles.
3. Know Your Audience
Before you can fulfill your audience’s need, you must confirm that there is, in fact, an audience for your business in the first place. If you’re not confident that your product has found its audience, you may have created a product before addressing a real need in the marketplace. Take an honest look at the company’s revenues, subscriber growth and especially direct customer feedback. Then ask yourself if this product is serving its most vital audience in terms of size and growth? If not, you need to tweak it to realign with the customers who most need it.
4. Always Be Willing to Negotiate
Someone needs to take on the role of Chief Negotiating Officer—because for better or for worse, in the beginning, money is everything. Be prepared to push back on contracts and agreements with vendors and contractors and other business services you might need to invest in. You will save money and every penny counts! An important lesson for anyone opening a business.
5. There will be Evolution
Live by the mantra to Do Less! You should spend time building only the bare minimum that will allow you to bring your product to market so that you can assess demand and make adjustments. Getting attached to a specific aspect of your start-up is dangerous, because the original idea will most likely change after its inception. Probably more than once. Be okay with that.
6. Love Your Work
If you haven’t had days where you’re ready to give up, you still have a long way to go. You have to get used to looking yourself in the mirror on particularly trying days and ask yourself if there was anything else you would rather be doing. The answer was should hopefully be no. Your passion has to be iron man strong in order to fight through failure, degradation and sleep-deprivation. This has to matter to you as more than an experiment because this is your career. At the end of the day, it’s your name behind the business and everything you’re doing to help it succeed will come back to you two-fold.