As an entrepreneur, you’ll often head into uncharted territory. That is after all what keeps you going—making something from nothing, and the unknown.
You will without a doubt learn many things along the way and make some mistakes. But what if you didn’t have to make some of those mistakes?
You’d save yourself time, money, and stress, so that you can focus on the importance of growing your business.
That’s why we wrote this post. Today, we’ll take a look at some common things all entrepreneurs learn the hard way so you don't have to.
1. You Don’t Need to Spend a Lot of Money
Time and time again I see wantrepreneurs looking to invest their life savings into starting a business. While that may seem like the right thing to do—it’s not entirely necessary.
How can you justify spending thousands of dollars to start a business when you don’t even know if there’s a market for what you’re selling? You may be gambling your money away.
I’m not saying don’t take a risk, no—I’m saying only take a risk if you have to. And, a calculated risk at that.
Here’s what I suggest—spend a few hundred dollars to get started. Maybe even less.
Take a look at what one user on Reddit was able to accomplish without spending any money:
You can read the entire thread here.
You really don’t need thousands of dollars to determine whether or not your product will actually sell. Try setting up a simple landing page to see if you can capture anyone’s interest.
You can get started with a landing page on Spaces and start accepting payments instantly. Setup a landing page that showcases your product (even if it’s just a prototype) and see if there’s any interest.
Total cost for setting up a landing page with Spaces? $0.
If you get traffic but nothing converts, keep working on your marketing tactics to ensure you're marketing to the appropriate demographic.
If you get traffic and capture a few emails, then you’re on the right track.
If you are able to get a sale from that landing page—then it’s game on. Now is the time you should consider investing more than a few hundred dollars into your business.
It’s better to play it safe than to be thousands of dollars in the hole, especially if you're trying to do this all by yourself.
2. It's Easy to Fall Into Paralysis by Analysis
It can be incredibly overwhelming to try and figure everything out on your own, especially when you’re dealing with new terms and data like conversion rates, analytics, mailing lists, shipping and fulfillment, and more.
It’s easy to get caught up in it all—but it’s important to keep moving forward and to not get lost in the noise.
That’s why it’s important to ask for help. Have friends that are well versed in conversion rate optimization? Ask them to do a quick critique of your storefront. Need help with your social media marketing? Ask a friend who loves social media, and see what they find to be interesting.
One thing that I see quite frequently that contributes to analysis paralysis is store owners who get caught up with the little things in the early planning stages.
Sure, having a totally perfected theme is great—but it’s preventing you from actually launching your business. Will that color tweak, different font choice, or a massive FAQ page really make a big difference at launch? Maybe, but maybe not.
While it may not be the prettiest website—it shows that getting started and not being worried about the small things is what's important. Now that they have a proven product model, they'll be able to make changes and tweak their website to better serve their potential customers.
Work on the things that are most important: traffic, building an email list, marketing and sales. Then start chipping away at the small stuff.
3. If You Build it, They Won’t Come
Unfortunately just because you have a website, doesn’t mean people will know about it.
Sure, you could wait months for your website to maybe start showing up in Google search results after doing minor SEO tweaks—but that’s a long time to wait. Heck, there’s no guarantee that you will even show up in Google search results for the terms you want if it's a competitive market.
Why not start with a strong marketing strategy from the get go? In the past we’ve talked about the hustle it takes to get seen. That hasn’t changed.
Start your marketing strategy when you’re in the beginning stages of just setting up a landing page. It’s really as simple as sharing your page with friends and family. It doesn’t need to take months of planning to get something built and to start getting traction.
Here are some tips for getting early traction for your business—for free:
- Post your store to subreddits related to your product on Reddit
- Email your favourite product blogs
- Post across all of your personal social media accounts
- Share with friends and family
- Setup a prelaunch landing page to capture emails
- Try giving away a product or two to influencers
If you launch and nobody comes, launch again.
It might take two or three times for someone to bite—but it isn’t costing you an arm and a leg to repeat the above list.
There’s no shame in starting over.
4. Your Idea is Worthless Without Execution
An idea is just that—an idea. Sure you might have the idea for something that could be a million dollar business, but how would you know without actually building it? You need to take that idea, and execute. Make something out of it.
That's partly why venture capitalists and angel investors are hesitant to sign any sort of NDA's in early discussions. They just don't have time to implement your idea. They want to take your product to the next stage of existence.
Plenty of entrepreneurs are scared of sharing their ideas with potential business partners or employees because they're constantly worried that someone would steal the idea.
But let's be frank—nobody is going to steal an idea. The only thing worth stealing is something that is a proven concept.
So get started. What's stopping you from taking an idea and turning it into something?
*This is just an example. I didn't actually have the idea for Tesla Motors, but it would be cool if I did.
5. You Are Your Biggest Competitor
There's nothing better than spending an afternoon on the couch watching Netflix—I'll be first to admit that.
But every time you hit "continue watching" after blazing through a few episodes of your new favorite show, you're just spending valuable time. You're letting your competition (laziness) beat you. Which, as a result means others who aren't being lazy are making strides towards their goals.
I'm not saying don't watch Netflix or television—in fact, I highly recommend it as a way to unwind after a days work.
But consider it a form of delayed gratification—a productivity strategy that some highly successful people implement into their daily routine. Reward yourself with an episode of your favorite show only after you get work done.
Checkout this great motivational video. The main point of this is simply to just do it. Your dreams can come true if you don't let yourself get in the way.
Now that we've taken a look at some of the things all entrepreneurs learn the hard way, how will you apply these to your business? Let us know in the comments below if there are any other things you've learned the hard way as an entrepreneur.
About The Author
Tucker Schreiber is an entrepreneur and content crafter at Shopify. He writes to inspire and educate readers on all things commerce.