- 77% of Americans believe new entrepreneurs are the key to reviving the economy;
- 42% of Americans have considered starting a business since the economic downturn, with 1 in 10 acting on the idea; and
- 55% of Americans say starting a business is something they have wanted to do.
The term “newpreneur” is a great one. It represents an entrepreneur who is using the recession as a catalyst to start a business or develop an idea. I decided I would make up my own term for what these newpreneurs want: “THRIVAVING.” It’s the combination of business surviving and business thriving.
I have spent almost my whole life either working as an entrepreneur or working with entrepreneurs. So much so that I am the featured speaker and a panel judge for Alibaba.com’s Newpreneur™ of the Year award, presented in partnership with Inc. Magazine.
We all know there are a lot of risks in being an entrepreneur, which is likely the reason only 1 out of 10 who consider taking the plunge actually get in the water. Along the way, I have gone through a lot of those risky situations and have some key principles I want to pass along to newpreneurs…
- Focus. You have to pick a very specific market to serve when you start out. Your product or service may be perfect for everyone. You may want everyone to know about it and you may want to tell everyone about it. Don’t start that way- pick your market, get your value right and serve those customers well. When you have those things right, you can start expanding your circle.
- Stay nimble. I had a friend almost go bankrupt early in her business because she signed long term contracts for supplies and advertising in order to get great discounts. The problem is that she had fixed obligations and no flexibility with her cash. Keeping your cash means keeping your options open.
- Build a big team. Friends, family, former colleagues, neighbors… these people want to see you be successful. They are interested in your dream. You need help, support and referrals. Ask! Don’t promise payments or take on employees- share your dreams and ask for favors. Do you have an upcoming public event or trade show that needs people to man the booth? Are you trying to get an important meeting with someone at a big company? Are you looking for help with a logo or photos of your products? The list goes on and on for ways your team can help you. Just remember to be grateful.
- Over-serve your customers. Your first customers are your brand. You can’t just serve them; over-serve them. These people will be the foundation of your reputation and your referral base.
- Test. Don’t bet the farm on the perfect advertising campaign, packaging design or service offering. Start small. Find out how the market responds, tweak, adjust and then test again. I have seen too many gung-ho entrepreneurs blow all of their resources rushing to market with what they thought was perfect only to find out that they were off by just enough to kill their business.
- Cash is king. Hold on to your cash. Cash is oxygen to a new business. Don’t make big bets on long-term anything. Whatever you can get for free, negotiate free. Cheap needs to be cheaper. One of the things that creates the environment for newpreneurs is that it is less expensive to start a business in an economic downturn. Take advantage of that fact and hold on to your cash!
- Be patient. If you have done the other things I’ve said, then you are going to take some small steps and find your path. Then you can increase the speed of your business growth.
Success usually doesn’t happen overnight. After all, you’ve no doubt heard the expression, “We were a 10-year overnight success.” Your business may take 10 years to build, it may take 10 weeks. But be prepared: patience is necessary.
I’m looking forward to talking to hundreds of newpreneurs in each of the cities in which I will be presenting. The full schedule and details are available here: http://www.inc.com/newpreneur/events.html