I started my entrepreneurial path in 2011. There was a lot of trial-and-error, mishaps, slip-ups and fatal mistakes that I wish I could have avoided. Granted, I still don't know everything. I'm still learning and growing through my mistakes, but I feel like it's my responsibility to share what I've learned with aspiring entrepreneurs to help them avoid some of the mistakes, mishaps and missteps that I’ve made along the way. So, let’s get started! Below, you’ll find five tips to help you begin your path to entrepreneurship.
First, identify your gifts. Before you start your entrepreneurial journey, ask yourself, “What are my gifts?" This could be a skill that comes to you naturally or something that you've had to hone over the years–whatever it is, figure it out. We all have gifts. Sometimes, it's hard to pinpoint our strengths, but if anyone has ever said to you, "I wish I could do that," or "I don't know how you do that." That's your gift!
Identify your tribe. Once you've figured out your gifts, who could benefit from what you have to offer? Who needs you? This is your tribe or your target audience. This information will help you to build your customer profile so that you can begin to understand how to communicate and market to your potential customers. You'll want to be as specific as possible! What are their spending habits? Who do they follow online? What kind of products do they purchase? These are the people that will pay for your service, product, or skill. Identify them, and create a plan to reach them.
Plan it out. Regardless of whether you're already making money with your skill or business idea, you need to make sure that you have a plan. Personally, I didn't write a business plan for any of my previous business ventures. I was winging it the entire time. In the words of my elders, do as I say, not as I do. Creating a business plan will help you stay on track during your entrepreneurial journey and will come in handy if you decide to get funding in the form of business loans or funding from investors.
Protect ya neck. Make sure you're protected legally. Research your state's laws regarding operating a business, then get your paperwork in order. You don't want IRS at your heels, nor do you want to be unprotected in the event that someone decides to sue. Making your business official is pretty easy, and all of the information can be found on the inters of net. Also, please for the love of Black Jesus take some time to understand your cash flow. You don’t want to make the same mistake I did and slip so far into the red that you end up homeless.
Shamelessly promote yourself. Okay, so you're making moves. You've got your business plan, you're a legal entity, and you understand how to talk to your potential customers. Now, it's time to start promoting yourself. Tell your friends and family that you've started your business. Get yourself some business cards and shamelessly promote yourself. If you don't have the budget for a website just yet, create a free business page on Facebook, or a free page on Wordpress. There are tons of tutorials online to guide you through the process of setting up your free page. This will help you to build your brand awareness and harness the power of search engine optimization. Tell everyone in your circle what you're working on. You have to be shameless about this. Everyone and they mama need to know that you done started a business!
Wherever you are in your journey, what’s important is that you keep going. You got this!
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