As a young, hungry entrepreneur the only thing that was absolutely clear was my desire to succeed. A plan existed but lacked details and for the most part was extremely sketchy. After a few months, it dissipated. I chalk everything up to a learning experience and this post talks about 11 things I wish someone would've told me before I became an entrepreneur.
1. Get a MacBook!
There's nothing more devastating than having your entire life crash due to a faulty windows computer and not be salvageable. With a Mac, your files are saved, backed up and can also be placed on the iCloud, accessible from any of your i devices. . If you're anything like me, you also save it to your google drive so you have full access to it from any type of computer.
1B. Carry a notebook at all times!
Let's be honest, all technology dies. Don't have an aha! moment without being able to save it. Next to your MacBook should be your handy dandy notebook.
2. Perfect your plan and follow it.
What's the point of taking the time to perfect a business plan or social media plan and then never follow it? The beautiful thing about plans is that they are not like people, they can be altered and changed as time goes on and situations arise without many problems. Having a plan keeps you steps ahead of your game and in control of your future. Following the plan means you can meet and even EXCEED your goals.
3. Your website should always work!
Not keeping your website and email consistent is a common mistake that new entrepreneurs even myself make. This is largely due to poor planning. Make sure you know what you want the name of your business to be BEFORE you start promoting it so your customers don't have to remember multiple names. Also make sure that the email you have will be accessible to you in the future. When someone types in your dot com, they should never see an error message. Always have a landing page stating if your page is under construction and how they can reach you via email or social media. Failure to do so could result in a loss of business or perception of professionalism.
4. Be extremely specific and clever with your item descriptions on your website.
If you are selling dresses, get extremely creative with the way it fits, how it makes you feel. Is it cinching at the waist? Does it make you look like J.Lo? Or give you a Beyonce booty? When new customers come to your site they remember small things like a welcome pop up or a cute description for an item they are interested in. They will be more likely to tell a friend about the dope description they saw on this "new" site!
THE RIGHT BOOTS CAN MAKE A GIRL FEEL DAMN NEAR BULLETPROOF. SLIP ON A PAIR AND LOOK LIKE A TOTAL HOT SHOT.
5. Skip the logo if you can't afford it and opt for text.
As entrepreneurs we get so excited at the idea of something that is completely ours that we often forget about the important but minor details. We may ask a graphic designer how much they charge and we are immediately turned off at the $300 price tag. We decide that we can save money and invest in more product if we do it ourselves. Which is not the best mind frame to adopt. I've seen many new entrepreneurs with logos that are lackluster, pixelated or just not aligned with the core values of their brand. If you can not afford to get a quality logo, lettering and lines are just as fancy and sometimes can make a bigger impact. Plenty of huge companies use lettering for their logos cc: Google, Monster, Amazon, Macy's, eBay, Walmart, Vitamin Water.
6. Have a social media plan or hire a social media guru.
Entrepreneurs equate their personal fan base with customers. This is a common misconception. We assume that the people we know will be the first ones to support us when it's actually the opposite. Basing your business' social media following on your personal following is a recipe for disaster. Unless you can come up with a solid plan including a schedule for posting and the actual content to post, you should hire a social media manager. You can do so for an affordable rate on elance.com
7. Build a solid team.
When building a team for your business, you think about your friends and who has strengths that aligns with your goals. While this may seem logical, you want the friend that has time. Skills can be learned but time can not be borrowed. What's the purpose of having a fully qualified business partner who will take days(if at all) to return your text messages for urgent business decisions.
8. Go to trade shows or where ever your target market will be!
You don't always have to be involved to get involved. Even if you are not a vendor at a trade show, you can still go to promote yourself and your business. For example if your company sells eyelashes, it might behoove you to attend Beauty Con and hand out free samples, coupons or just network! You'll never know which YouTuber or blogger will promote you for free and for the most part, you won't get in trouble unless you are wreaking havoc!
9. Take advantage of free help.
Free help lives literally everywhere. Every person you walk past in NYC can probably in some way enhance your life and business. More specifically, if you have walked past a public library recently, there are an abundance of free resources that may prove to be extremely useful to you. They have classes for small business owners and they also offer free 1-1 counseling. They have an array of topics for the classes that range from social media to financing. You also want to check out the SBA for financing opportunities for minorities (women and people of "color")