What’s the difference between a hobby and a livelihood? A hard-working small business owner. Starting a business isn’t always easy but you don’t have to do it alone. Not when you get advice from successful entrepreneurs like Adrian Bybee, who can point you in the right direction. Here are three of his tips for starting a small business.
Bybee opened his Pocatello, Idaho insurance agency in 2015 after only five years in the financial services industry. As a small business owner, he takes a personal approach to managing his agency.
“I’m not acquiring clients,” he said. “I hope I can make a positive difference in their lives.”
And along the way, he’s learned some valuable lessons about what it takes to be successful. Here’s a list of three of them along with some additional insights.
If you’re going to start a business, treat it like one. It’s not a recreational activity, like a hobby. So start with a solid business plan that outlines where you want to go and how you’re going to get there. Then don’t put it on the shelf. Review the plan regularly. If you’re not on track, find the stumbling block and adjust.
It also means you have to commit to putting in the work. It’s important to have work-life balance, but you may need to redefine what that means. If you’re used to an active social life or taking time off, you may get frustrated with the long hours required. Working vacations may be your new normal.
It’s easy to get burned out if you’re taking on the role of a sales person, administrator, and customer service rep. Your job is to grow your business and you won’t have time for that if you’re a one-person shop. That’s why you want people who can help you along the way.
But that doesn’t mean you need to hire staff. If accounting is not your strength, then consider outsourcing it. It can be a great way to add resources without adding a permanent employee. Another idea is to share services with other businesses. If you rent office space in a complex, you may be able to share administrative resources with others in the building. A sales rep can be added on a commission basis where the variable expense is funded by sales results.
A mentor gives you that outside set of eyes so you can see things you may be missing. According to a UPS study, 70 percent of small businesses that receive mentoring services survive for five years or more. That’s double the rate for those who don’t have a mentor.
With mentors, you get real-life insights you won’t find in a book. That’s because they’ve been where you are now. And some have a network of contacts that can be helpful. Besides advice and encouragement, they can also hold you accountable. If you’re not meeting your business goals, they can sound the alarm.
Mentorship services are available from a number of sources, some are free or low cost. For example, SCORE is a nonprofit organization of volunteers offering mentors to startups. Small Business Development Centers offer consulting and training to new and existing businesses.
Starting a business can be exciting and exhausting. But advice from successful entrepreneurs like Bybee can give you the insight you need to start strong.
Watch this video and hear Bybee’s tips for launching a small business.