Whether you’re getting ready to start your first business or your fifth, the process of getting the venture off the ground and on the road to profitability can be daunting. But what better learning method is there than tuning into tips from people who have been there and done that — then succeeded in impressive ways?
Check out these thought-provoking tips from entrepreneurs about things they learned when starting their businesses. You could adopt them, too, and discover value in their advice.
1. Focus on What You Have, and Gain Real-World Experience
When she was only 22 years old, Sophia Amoruso started an online clothing company that turned into Nasty Gal, a company with a net worth of $350 million by the time Amoruso was 30. Two years later, though, the company filed for bankruptcy.
To make matters worse, Amoruso was also dealing with the breakdown of her marriage, but instead of getting bogged down by those unfortunate circumstances, Amoruso regrouped and started another company, Girlboss.
Concerning business planning, Amoruso has said, “There’s no right way [to start a business]. There’s what you have, and what you do with what you have. Learning things from school or from being told those things is one way of learning. But you don’t learn as completely as when you actually develop the muscle memory by doing it yourself.”
2. Have a Long-Term Strategy
Amazon’s founder Jeff Bezos is no stranger to innovation. He’s grown his business model from a bookselling venture to a company that offers pioneering products like the Kindle and Echo.
When making your business plan, Bezos advises thinking long-term. He notes you need to have a clear framework for a long-term strategy, including a straightforward approach to operations.
Then, the foundation is in place that allows for experimenting and innovating. Bezos also thinks it’s necessary to build your framework to tolerate failure without falling apart.
3. Write out Your Goals and Work on Them Often
From launching your website to choosing an office space and a logo, it probably feels like you have countless tasks to accomplish before your business plan will take shape. However, a personal growth plan could give you perspective and direction during the planning stages. Think of it as a roadmap for achieving your goals.
Tom Ziglar, the son of the late motivational speaker Zig Ziglar, made a name for himself in his own right by offering books and talks for entrepreneurs as CEO of Ziglar, Inc. He’s also a big believer in goal setting for business planning purposes or other aspects of your venture.
Ziglar has said, “There are three things that goal achievers do that nobody else does. Goal achievers will number one, write their goal out in detail…Number two is they work on the goal every day or as often as necessary. The third thing that goal achievers do is have an accountability partner.”
4. Know Your Industry Well and Be Flexible
Maybe you have what’s seemingly a fantastic idea for a business and feel tempted to start writing your business plan without doing adequate market research. That’s a big mistake according to Mark Cuban, the billionaire entrepreneur who co-owns 2929 Entertainment and is an investor on “Shark Tank.”
When asked about tips for starting a business, he said, “It really does involve knowing an industry well, which is why I avoid investing in industries I don’t know. You need to turn over every rock and open every door to learn your industry. This process never ends.”
Furthermore, Cuban advocates having enough flexibility in your business plan to accommodate change if it turns out a certain aspect isn’t feasible.
5. Maintain a Problem-Solving Mindset
It’s understandable that many of the thoughts you have about writing a business plan might relate to the company itself — but Mark Zuckerberg, creator of Facebook suggests thinking about how your business could solve a problem instead.
He clarifies, “I always think that you should start with the problem that you’re trying to solve in the world and not start with deciding that you want to build a company.”
6. Exercise Patience
Tory Burch is the woman behind a billion-dollar lifestyle brand of the same name and one of the most powerful female entrepreneurs. However, she didn’t have the complete plan for building such an empire at first and had to show patience when determining how to guide and grow her efforts.
When talking about her business, Burch said, “I often say it’s like a lab. We test.” The company’s president, Brigitte Kleine, backs up that sentiment and notes, “We apply our patient mentality —and then eventually we launch.”
Regardless of if you’re making the first rough draft of a business plan or perfecting your latest version, these tips should help you avoid pitfalls and anticipate successes — even if you have some failures first.