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8 Tips to Consider Before You Start Your New Business

This is a Guest Post by Ivan Chan who believes that we are all meant to do great things. He is an Improvement Coach and the founder of ImprovingLifeDaily.com. You can friend him here, follow him @iLifeDaily.

I believe all of us are meant to do something great.

Yes, that means you! As an Improvement Coach of start-ups and aspiring entrepreneurs, I’m always amazed (and saddened) at the number of people I come across who live their lives small. They don’t believe in their abilities. They think their ideas are not worth anything.

Well, you matter, and so do your ideas.

And the best way to leave your legacy – and do something great with your life – is to start a great business that doesn’t end with you.

Let me help you get started.

4 Thing Not to Do Before You Start Your New Business

1. Dream up delusions of grandeur

Do you dream about running your own show? Perhaps it sounds something like this: you quit your job, have tons of freedom to call you own shots, make millions of dollars, and live happily ever after.

The end.

All right… now SNAP OUT OF IT!

Starting a business, whether it be online or the traditional brick-and-mortar kind, takes guts, determination, hard work, and… did I mention hard work? You may very well have a storybook ending waiting for you, but the journey there is rarely glamorous.

Take Apple for instance. You’re probably familiar with its current status as the king of consumer electronics. But did you know that it was almost bankrupt in the late 1990’s?

Apple, and all the glitz and glamour associated with its brand, was at one point irrelevant. Imagine, if it wasn’t for some guy named Steve who persevered through those trying years and insisted on putting a dent in the universe, Apple most likely wouldn’t be around today.

So what does this mean for you? If you want true success for your business, be prepared to hang in there through bad times. Overnight successes are rarely overnight. Go ahead and dream. Just don’t forget to wake up and get to work.

2. Set angry fires to your bridges

As tempting as it is to tell your boss where to go just before you quit your job, don’t – especially when you’re angry or bitter.

I know, you’re frustrated and have had enough of (insert your story here). But the world is a small place. Even if you really don’t need that job ever again, it never hurts to count your former boss and colleagues among your new business allies. If you’re lucky, maybe they’ll even be your first customers.

I’ve reached out to old acquaintances and colleagues to help me out with new projects on more than a few occasions. Maybe you have too? Imagine if you had said or done something mean to that person in a moment of thoughtlessness all those years ago. Now who do you turn to?

Just like you should always wear clean underwear when leaving your house, you should always leave relationships better than you found them. They have a tendency to repay you back (in both good and bad ways).

3. Think you know what you’re doing

Albert Einstein once said:

If we knew what it was we were doing, it would not be called research, would it?

We all think that we know what we’re doing. To do otherwise would open the possibility that we’re wrong.

And you know what? We’re often wrong.

One of the keys to success in business – in life in fact – is to continuously experiment, learn from your experiences, and improve.

Here’s another prominent business example. IBM sold its personal computer business – one of the company’s pillars for over two decades – in 2005 because the PC industry was getting more competitive (and less profitable). It was a tough call at the time. But IBM not only came out better than before. It is now one of the largest technology companies in the world by market value.

IBM was willing to change course and try something new. You should too. So what if you’re wrong? It’s always better to be wrong now and get it right going forward, then to fool yourself and be screwed later. And be careful: you’re the easiest person to fool.

4. Talk yourself out of it (especially if you’re just scared)

Maybe you’re not smart enough. Maybe you’re not pretty enough. Maybe you’re not whatever enough.

But how would you know if you don’t even try? Just as bad as thinking you know everything is doing the opposite: thinking you’re no good at anything.

Allow me to let you in on a little secret: NO ONE is born an expert. Michael Jordan is the world’s greatest basketball player, but did you know that he once got cut from his varsity team? Did that stop him? No! While everyone else was still asleep, Michael would get up early at dawn each and everyday to practice and work on his drills.

Michael knew his destiny, and he was not going to let anyone stop him.

What about you? Are you going to give up on yourself before you even start? If you truly want something, go for it! Don’t deny your chance at that Hollywood ending before you can even say “action”.

4 Things to Remember Before You Start Your New Business

1. Learn about money management

Here’s the reality: having some knowledge of accounting and investing is going to give you a head start when it comes to starting a business.

True, you don’t need an accounting major before you start a business. But knowing what cash flow is, the difference between asset and liability, and how equity works will definitely help you go a long way.

If you need some ideas to get started, here are a few particularly good ones:

  • Investopedia – just like Wikipedia, except dedicated to everything finance! It has articles ranging from beginner (in money knowledge) to expert. There’s something for everyone.
  • Robert Kiyosaki (aka Rich Dad) – despite the rumour that some of his workshops are scams (which were not completely disproved), his books are quite good. Robert has a way with making even the most technical financial concepts accessible to the layman, and that helps a lot for someone just getting started.
  • For Dummies – in case you need comprehensive treatment on a particular topic, look no further than the Dummies series of books. From simple accounting to derivative investments, it’s all there.

Too lazy to take the time to read and research? Then at least make a couple of good accounting friends and buy them lunches. You’ll be thankful that you did.

2. Build a strong support group

Oprah Winfrey once said:

Surround yourself with only people who are going to lift you higher.

Business is all about relationships. I’m not just talking about relationships with your customers here. I’m talking about relationships with your family, friends, community, and so on as well. While these relationships may be “outside” your business, they nevertheless have a tremendous impact on what’s going on “inside” your business.

For example, if you don’t take care of your family and things fall apart as a result, can you really focus on your business and do well? And what about your friends and others close to you? My loved ones and friends have always been my biggest supporters. I have gotten to where I am today because they’ve been my resourceful advisers during good times, and an emotional safety net during tough times. I can’t thank them enough.

How can you build your support group today? Simple: go out of your way to support others. Don’t count or track favours. Don’t expect someone to repay you just because you do something nice. Just do it. Be kind and generous, and in time you shall receive.

3. Have faith

Ever heard of Ralph Waldo Emerson? Here’s what he had to say:

If I have lost confidence in myself, I have the universe against me.

Before anyone else will believe in you and what you do, you have to believe in yourself. You have to keep your faith and believe that whatever you’re doing will turn out OK.

Will that necessary be true in the end? No one knows for sure. But one thing for sure is that having faith, keeping your prayers, or whatever it is that works for you, will be that beacon of light that gets you through the tough times.

It’s easy to believe in yourself when things are going well. The real test comes when things are not working or worst, about to implode.

I make a habit of reviewing my life’s goals at least once every week. During that time, I always ask myself why I’m doing what I’m doing. I help others live their life’s purpose and coach them on ways to monetize their passions. This is my calling. And constantly making an effort to remind myself of this helps motivate me, even when nothing seems to be happening for my work.

What do YOU believe in?

4. Create an escape plan

Having an escape plan has at least two benefits.

The first one is obvious. An escape plan gives you a way out in case your new business venture is falling down faster than the London Bridge. It happens, so you might as well have a plan B. Remember that bridge back to your old job you DID NOT burn? You may have to cross that after all.

The second benefit is not as obvious, but no less important. Up until now, you may be second-guessing the whole idea of starting a business, because there are so many things that can go wrong! With an escape plan, you can hopefully alleviate some of those fears, and banish the rest of your doubts.

And don’t just take it from me. Even Q tells the same thing to James Bond, just before his grand exit. Are you too cool to listen?

Your Turn…

So, have you started your business yet? What are you waiting for?

Oh I know, you don’t think you’re ready yet. If you’ve read this far, I can tell you DO have one thing ready: your desire to start something great.

Desire is an important first step. You just have to do something about it. Now that you’ve done your advice-gathering, tip-reading, and motivation-listening, you have one thing left to do. And that is to start your dream today.

It will be a great adventure. I wouldn’t miss it for the world if I were you. :)