by Shama Hyder award winning CEO of The Marketing Zen Group and author of The bestselling book, Zen of Social Media Marketing
- Don’t be afraid. It can be scary to start a business
There are a lot of variables and unknowns, but it doesn’t have to be a frightening experience. Take the time to plan it out, do your research, get help, and learn from other people’s mistakes. Ask yourself, what is the worst that can happen? Often what scares us the most is our own judgment.
- Get adopted. The younger you are, the better this works
I had a professor who once told me that the best thing about being a young entrepreneur is that you can get adopted! People want to mentor and guide you. Most see you as the future, not as a threat. I’ve found this to be very true, and have always been grateful for the support of my community –offline & online!
- Leverage technology
Technology continues to get cheaper and more user friendly. It has removed barriers, and flattened the marketplace. You can compete with the biggest of companies by leveraging what is available out there for you in terms of technology.
- Think globally
As an entrepreneur, you are no longer bound by physical boundaries. Even if your business is local, you can generate a global following. I recently learned about a business in Singapore called “Awfully Chocolate.” And, as a chocolate lover, it is on my list to visit when I go there!
- Your age is an asset
No matter your age, it is an asset, not a liability. If you are older, you are a seasoned professional. If you are younger, you have a unique perspective to bring to the table. When I first started my company, I did not disclose my age. I felt it would undermine our good work. But then I realized that clients were seeking us out exactly because they wanted to work with a “young & hip” company. They wanted someone who understood technology as a first language. I was amazed at this revelation.
- Hire by trial
Perhaps the toughest part about being an entrepreneur is that you can’t do it alone. You have to eventually hire a team. I recommend hiring by trial. No resume, no cover letter, no interview can ever take the place of actually seeing someone in action.
- Find a lawyer
I never realized what a huge role legal plays in a business. And, I’ve been lucky enough to marry one of the smartest attorneys in the world. If you aren’t married to an attorney, no problem. Befriend one! Find a great business lawyer, and make them a true partner in your business. They are trained to see things that you can’t.
- Listen to your marketplace
Perhaps the greatest lesson you will learn as an entrepreneur is the ability to listen and respond to your marketplace. When I first started The Marketing Zen Group, we only offered consulting services. But, very soon, we saw that our clients were frustrated when they didn’t have the right resources to implement our recommendations. We then offered to take over their web marketing for them, and business has been booming since.
- Invest in what matters
Bootstrap the rest. Invest in bettering your services, hiring the best, and marketing. You don’t need a fancy office. You do need to know what you are doing, and a competent team to help you do it. Don’t negotiate with your vendors on price. Negotiate on value. Make them feel like a part of your team.
- Less money is better than more money
This may seem like strange advice, but it is true when starting out. As you grow your business, this changes. But, if you are just starting a business, it forces you to be more creative. And, at the end of the day, entrepreneurship is really an exercise in creativity.