10 Worthwhile Tips All Entrepreneurs Should Learn

Being an expert in your industry isn't enough to make you a successful entrepreneur, though it certainly helps. That's because knowing how to make a great product and knowing how to run a startup are two entirely different skills. Not knowing enough about the latter can cause a stumble at a critical juncture. If you want to succeed, you'll want to learn as much about running a startup as possible.

1. Know When to Say “Yes” and When to Say “No”

Decisiveness is a vital part of success for an entrepreneur. Being unable to take a firm stance on your answer is inefficient and is often a waste of everyone's time. Give an immediate "yes" or "no" as often as possible. If someone demands an immediate answer and you're unsure, or on the side of caution, then say no.

2. Get Rid of Bad Seeds ASAP

No matter how thorough your hiring process is, you're bound to get a bad seed or two. That's OK, it happens. What's not OK is letting a wrong hire stay one second too long. The moment you find a bad employee, terminate them. Don't wait, don't hesitate. The longer they're in your company, the more damage they'll do.

3. Focus on Your Customers

A surprising number of entrepreneurs pay little attention to the thoughts and concerns of their clients. They're more focused on getting their ideas done rather than appealing to the customer. While your thoughts do matter, they should be aligned with the needs and wants of the consumer. They're the ones who'll be using your product, which means their opinions matter. Listening to their feedback lets you innovate in the right direction, and it keeps your company focused.

4. Protect Yourself

Nothing hurts more than being beaten by a competitor that stole your ideas. Fortunately, there are ways to protect your intellectual property. If you don't know what they are and whether you should be looking for a trademark or copyright or both, consult with a lawyer who specializes in intellectual property. That may cost you, but it'll also keep you and your startup safe from theft, which will save you more money in the long run.

5. Learn to Write Agreements

Vague arrangements and contracts are the banes of many entrepreneurs. Anything that leaves wiggle room for abuse will be abused, and that which isn't expressly forbidden will often be done. It may seem silly to try to cover your bases and expect people on the other side of the negotiation table to behave with "honor," but they have companies to run too. You can avoid putting them in that awkward position by writing valid agreements.

6. Be Appropriate with Your Transparency

Transparency, although often touted as something you should display at every opportunity, should be used carefully. Being transparent with employees is important. For example, letting them know how the company is doing and how they're helping will keep lines of communication open and morale stable. However, it doesn't mean they have to know every detail without prompting. Learning when to keep your mouth shut and when to share is an important skill for all entrepreneurs.

7. You're Part of Every Problem

There aren't a lot of people involved in a startup, but there are plenty of decisions, and you'll have a hand in each one, from hiring to product development. If the company falters, you are, without exception, part of the problem. While you may not be the only factor, you're always one. Before looking anywhere else, look to yourself.

8. Make Sure There's Always Enough Money

Money makes the world go round, and it also makes your startup possible. Without it, all you have is an idea. Unfortunately, running out of capital remains a common reason for entrepreneurial failure. It doesn't matter whether you have an accountant or not. Regularly check your bank statements at all times so you know whether you should push forward or fix an impending cash flow problem.

9. Appreciate Your Star Employees

Star employees will come to you once in a blue moon if that. You're running a startup, after all, a kind of business wherein job security is tenuous. Take care of the valuable employees that land on your doorstep. Challenge and motivate them continuously. They'll form the core of your team, and if you can keep them throughout the startup's existence, you'll likely do well.

10. Know What You Don't Know

Everyone has met someone who's doing things entirely wrong but seems to believe that they're in the right. This lack of self-awareness is difficult to manage; if you don't know there's anything to change, you won't change. This self-awareness is something you must cultivate as an entrepreneur. You know what you don't know and act accordingly by either learning about it or by hiring advisors who do.

Running a startup is a unique and challenging task. Fortunately, history has proven that it is far from an impossible one. All you have to do is know what it takes to be an entrepreneur.


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