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10 Essential Steps to Becoming a Successful Entrepreneur

FlowerShopOwner

Flower shop owner.

Today, it seems like everyone wants to become an entrepreneur. And why not? Certainly working for someone else — even a big successful corporation — is no guarantee of job security. (Even as the Great Recession recedes, layoffs are still common.) And barely a day passes without news of some 20-year-old selling his garage-based business for untold millions of dollars.

Starting your own business can be an exciting, rewarding and enriching experience. It can also be frustrating, painful and sleep-depriving. But if you’re ready to invest your blood, sweat and tears — and perhaps all your personal assets — to realize your vision, then becoming an entrepreneur might be your ticket to success.

Here are 10 basic steps every entrepreneur should take when launching and managing a new business:

1. Get Educated. If you plan to run a business, it helps to have some business background. A college degree in business or accounting can be very helpful. But don’t stop there. You should be constantly reading books, business journals and blogs to better understand the workings of general business and your chosen industry.

2. Research the Playing Field. The old saying “Look before you leap” is particularly relevant when starting a business. Research your industry, your market, you customers and your competition. Try to understand why businesses like the one you’re planning succeed and why others fail. Learn from other people’s mistakes.

3. Assemble a Championship Team. No one succeeds alone. Even if you plan to start as a one-person operation, you may still need to seek occasional help and advice from lawyers, accountants and freelance specialists like marketers and web designers. You don’t need to have these people on retainer, but you should know who to reach out to when you need professional support.

4. Write a Business Plan. Putting together a formal business plan forces you to think about your proposed venture from top to bottom. Your plan will necessarily detail your company’s purpose, structure, operations, marketing and funding. A business plan is something you can fall back on whenever you find yourself drifting off course. Such a plan will also be required should you ever go to a bank or other funding source for a loan. Which brings us to…

5. Get Properly Funded. A key reason so many new businesses fail so quickly is because they just don’t have enough money to sustain themselves. It can take months or even years before a company starts showing a profit. If you’re launching your enterprise by posting a website and working evenings and weekends out of your home office or garage, capitalization may not be a major issue. But if your business depends on having a brick-and-mortar presence, equipment and employees, you better have enough cash socked away to get you through the lean times.

6. Commit Yourself 100 Percent. Launching a successful business is a tremendously difficult job that requires nothing less than total commitment. Be prepared to get up early, work late, and spend evenings and weekends launching and sustaining your enterprise. Hey, if starting a business was easy, everyone would be doing it!

7. Market, Market, Market. To grow your business and get customers, you need to get the word out. Today, there are many marketing avenues you can pursue, even if you don’t have a big budget. In addition to small print ads in local advertising circulars and neighborhood newspapers, you can market through e-newsletters, blogs and social networks like Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn. And don’t forget to build a website! Today, you’re not considered a real business if you’re not on the Internet!

8. Sell Benefits. It doesn’t matter what kind of goods or services you’re selling. In the end, you’re selling benefits. Your business is somehow going to make life easier, happier, safer, more convenient, less expensive and otherwise more pleasant for your customers/clients. Benefits should be the focus of your marketing messages as well as your customer follow-through. And speaking of customers…

9. Always Put the Customer First. Customer satisfaction should always be your No. 1 priority. This can sometimes mean going way out of your way — and even losing money on a particular transaction — to keep your customers happy. Happy customers are repeat customers. Unhappy customers can become “assassins” whose poor word-of-mouth can keep others away as well.

10. Be Prepared to Take Calculated Risks. Entrepreneurs are often celebrated as risk takers. But there are different kinds of risks, and some are smarter than others. As a businessperson, you should welcome calculated risks, those you have determined have the potential for high returns and an acceptably low chance of failure. But when risks become dangerous when a failure can doom your company and perhaps even set you up for personal bankruptcy. Taking a high-risk chance should be avoided, no matter how large the upside may appear to be.

Start by Getting a Business Degree from Everest University Online

Before you launch any new business enterprise, you should understand how business works. One good way to do this is to get a business degree from Everest University Online, a division of Everest University.

Everest University Online offers two-year associate degree and four-year bachelor’s degree programs that teach you the fundamentals of business operations, financing, business law, accounting, marketing and human resource management. Because classes are online, you can take them during evening hours, on weekends, or whenever else your schedule is clear. This allows you to work toward your degree while working at your current job or even laying the foundation for a business of your own.

For complete information on Everest’s associate and bachelor’s degree in Business programs, contact Everest University Online today.

Financial aid is available for those who qualify.

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