Every aspiring entrepreneur needs certain resources to be successful. You’ll need a business plan and sound business model, access to the media, mentors and advisers, customers, and of course, a great idea that fulfills a genuine need. Knowing what resources you need is one thing, however – finding them is quite another. Here’s what you need to know about equipping yourself for success in entrepreneurship:
Networking is as important to business success today as it ever has been. Mentors and advisers can help you in many ways – they can give you feedback on your business model, help you brainstorm new products to fill the needs of your customer base, put you in touch with investors, and help you fill key roles with talented people.
The networking game can be intimidating if you’re just getting started, but know that doing things to move yourself in the direction of your dreams will naturally put you in close proximity with like-minded people, and you never know who may be in a position to help you later on.
One great way to build connections with other industry leaders is to attend summits, conferences, and networking events. Another is to earn an MBA. Business school will help you build relationships with faculty mentors and advisers who can help you knock the rough edges off your business plan and continue to guide you throughout your career; it’s also a good way to build relationships with other future leaders. Don’t have time to spend two years going back to school? Pursue an online MBA instead.
Know The Industry
You can’t meet a genuine marketplace need if you don’t know your industry inside and out, on a level that you simply can’t obtain from sitting in a classroom. That’s why many business schools prefer candidates with a few years of work experience. There’s just no substitute for getting down in the trenches.
Before you start a business or launch a product, work in the industry that interests you, and do everything you can to familiarize yourself with its products and problems. That way, you’ll know that your business idea is something that customers genuinely want and need.
Do Your Research
Don’t discount the many sources of information available to aspiring entrepreneurs today. From the Small Business Administration website to online courses to business and leadership books, a little research can teach you everything you need to know about starting your business. It can also help you find resources you didn’t even know you needed, like organizational apps or online networking groups.
When you’re first starting a small business, you’re just not going to have the financial weight that larger companies have to throw behind your ideas. Instead, you’re going to have to rely on your creativity and ingenuity to make things work.
Creative small business owners find non-traditional paths to breathing life into their ideas. Consider, for example, entrepreneur Justin Gould, who saved thousands of dollars by building his own, unique industrial food processing system for his innovative line of nut butters. Or, take Allen Lim, who slashed his start-up’s marketing expenses by taking his sports drink company on the road, using a food truck to market his beverage across the country – and selling food to recoup the costs.
Broaden Your Horizons
Never underestimate the power of a fresh perspective, in business as in life. By broadening your horizons, you’ll encounter new ideas and learn about new business practices that could improve the way you do business and make you a better leader. Networking is one of the best ways to expose yourself to new ideas, especially if your networking group includes leaders from multiple industries.
Don’t be afraid to apply best practices or ideas from other industries to your own, even if only as a thought experiment! Try to earn a place in an organized networking group, or go to regular networking events, as well as staying abreast of the latest research and new thought in your field.
Finding the resources you need to succeed in business can be a challenge, but they’re out there – all you need to do to find them is be creative and persistent. Stay alert to new opportunities and connections, and keep working towards your dreams. Someday, you’ll look back and realize that it was all worth it.
Marjorie McAtee is a professional writer and editor with more than eight years of experience. She holds a Master of Arts in Professional Writing and Editing from West Virginia University.