With today’s job market being as competitive as ever and the looming fear of layoffs, some college graduates are creating their own businesses. Despite their best efforts, only 10 percent of startup businesses succeed, grads should carefully evaluate whether they possess the prowess needed to be a talented entrepreneur.
Starting a business requires a combination of industry knowledge, money management skills, and good old-fashioned grit. You also need to follow specific steps to keep your business profitable. Here’s what I learned in my successful freelance career as an online journalist that could help you achieve your goals.
1. Find Your Groove
Owning a business means thinking outside the 9-to-5 grind. While many people power down at 5 p.m., entrepreneurs always have their minds on the prize. Even if it means pulling late nights and early mornings.
Make sure your business idea makes you feel alive. Find something that makes you want to leap out of bed in the morning – not roll over and hit snooze. You’re your own boss. So, you need to spark the intrinsic motivation that makes you excited to get to work.
If you’re feeling uncertain, reflect and ask why you’re hesitant. For some of you, this may be for financial reasons. Being nervous about not being able to make enough income shouldn’t totally hold you back. But, feeling unsure of whether you’ll still enjoy your work in a year or two means you may want to reconsider the path that you have decided to take.
Think back to what made you happiest as a child. Maybe you loved playing school — if so, consider opening a tutoring business. If you couldn’t get enough of building houses with legos, contemplate starting a handyman service or even taking the necessary exams to get your general contractor license.
2. Write a Business Plan
Succeeding in business takes careful planning. When someone told me this this advice, I cringed, thinking, “I have no clue how to write a good business plan!” Guess what? Almost all entrepreneurs feel similarly.
Fortunately, writing a business plan isn’t as hard as it seems. No, it won’t have to be the length of War and Peace. You’ll need to include specific details, but the best business plans keep it short and sweet. Do be sure to include the vision statement of your business, your strategy for execution, a list of any necessary team members (if your business won’t be completely self-run, like a freelancing career) and a solid financial plan.
3. Determine Staffing Needs
As your business grows, you’ll likely need to bring on more help. Some small businesses, like restaurants or retail shops, need employees to function . Even sole proprietors like myself who never intend to add regular staff can benefit from delegating specific tasks to assistants, employees or other organizations.
One of the best business decisions that I ever made was hiring a financial rep to help take care of my writing invoices and payments. It may sound silly, but the distraction of paperwork and finances — which I am admittedly pretty bad at managing myself — often affected my productivity. So, I left the nitty-gritty work to a pro!
4. Network Like Mad
It doesn’t matter if you write like Stephen King or repair blown car transmissions with the speed of a pit crew – you need to network. Get out there and network in your town or city or success will elude you.
Email those already in your circle about your new endeavor and how it may benefit them, and use the power of social media to promote your products or services. Creating a LinkedIn account is a great place to start.
Once you’ve done the heavy lifting by setting your business up for success, it’s time to get out there and crush it. From one entrepreneur to another, I wish you all the best of success, and I look forward to seeing your name on the Forbes Top 30 Under 30 list.