Idea To Execution: Avoiding Four Main Pitfalls Common To Side-Hustlers And Small Businesses - Forbes

Idea To Execution: Avoiding Four Main Pitfalls Common To Side-Hustlers And Small Businesses - Forbes


Idea To Execution: Avoiding Four Main Pitfalls Common To Side-Hustlers And Small Businesses - Forbes

Posted: 05 Jun 2020 04:40 AM PDT

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Entrepreneurship is the dream of many, but often it can be overwhelming. Where do you start, or how do you execute an idea? In today's business environment, which is currently heavily influenced by the COVID-19 pandemic, it may even seem impossible. However, regardless of when you launch your business, there are four core pitfalls I'd recommend avoiding based on my experience as a small business owner.

Setting Goals And Building Support Networks

Starting a business or side hustle should not be an afterthought. Rather, you should create a business plan that looks at where you want to be in one — or, preferably, five — years. It helps if you are passionate about your business, but passion only takes you so far. Setting specific goals over time is essential. Remember, you don't have to be a jack of all trades. Expand your circle and build a network that you can leverage for ad hoc needs.

A support network of other business leaders and experts who you can tap into when a problem rises and lean on when you need guidance is a vital tool for budding entrepreneurs. When I look at my father's success, I realize it came from his relentless dedication, the way he built relationships, and how he took care of his community. When you create that "circle of knowledge," you are building a network that will be there through good and bad times. The more you give, the more it should come back.

The best advice I have is to find your niche that makes sense for your mission. If you are better at marketing or sales, then focus on that. Surround yourself with a support system that can fill the other key positions in your company — and if your business is starting as a side hustle, remember you don't have to quit your paying job before it is time. As much as starting a business shouldn't be an afterthought, it shouldn't be rushed, either.

Controlling Expenses

When you first start your business or side hustle, you'll probably have lots of ideas and want to make a big splash so everyone knows who you are and how to do business with you. However, this could also be a significant pitfall. Rather than starting big, focus on the practical steps. At this stage, there isn't a need for a fancy office, costly leases or signage. Can you operate out of your home or perhaps a shared office space? The important part is to build momentum and your revenue streams before you grow too quickly.

And in today's economy, calculating your cost of doing business (CODB) is essential. Review your pricing list for products or services. Match it to your target audience. Are you reaching out to the right customers? Are you wasting efforts on marketing to those who would have little interest or extra funding to purchase your solution? Look at your branding, too. Is it attracting the right customers? By answering these questions, you can keep the CODB lower while continuing to target the right customers to keep your side hustle or business operating.

Harnessing The Web

You can be a successful entrepreneur or side hustler with just word of mouth advertising and connections, but if you seriously want to grow to be the next household name, you should harness the power of the web and online marketing. As the SVP and general manager of a company that offers web hosting, domain names and SEO services, I believe the internet is a powerful tool, and building a clean, professional website is essential for success. It is often the first place potential customers visit to learn more. A website should help educate your customer through blogs and content; share basic information on your company; and maybe serve as the prime e-commerce platform to drive sales.

SEO and social media are other methods you can use to harness the power of the web, interact with your community and build an online presence. Create loyal followings by engaging on social platforms or creating an email newsletter. Ensure any content on your website ranks well for SEO in your industry to ensure you are reaching the right audience.

During crises like COVID-19, it is more important than ever to have an online presence. With more people opting to stay at home, online e-commerce platforms and websites are how many small businesses and side hustlers are staying afloat. This time also allows many entrepreneurs to refine their website, build out content and engage with customers digitally to build a community.

Keeping Data Secure

It is vital to implement security practices along with your online presence. Almost daily, reports of a new data breach or new cybersecurity threat emerge, and small businesses are not exempt from these bad actors. As you collect customer information from blog or newsletter sign-ups and purchases, you should protect this information. One way to ensure that is to create an HTTPS site, for instance. When you're choosing a domain name for your site, it should be short and catchy but should also include domain privacy and protection.

Each small business or side hustle has its own unique challenges, and your business may face other obstacles in going to market that are specific to your business plan or industry. However, ensuring these primary table stakes are established should greatly facilitate its longevity and success.

5 Tips for Recognizing a Meaningful Business Opportunity When You See One - Entrepreneur

Posted: 11 May 2020 09:09 AM PDT

5 min read

Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.

According to the Small Association, roughly 50 percent of businesses survive to reach their fifth year. What is interesting, however, is that the SBA's analysis found that these survival rates generally remain consistent regardless of the overall state of the . In other words, lasting is largely dependent on choosing the right business opportunity.

While understanding the basics of running a business is certainly important, your ability to recognize meaningful opportunities will play a major role in whether you author a lasting success story.

Idenitfying these opportunities isn't an exact science, but there are still telltale signs to look out for, beginning with the following five.

1. You've found a noteworthy market inefficiency

Not surprisingly, the best ideas come when you find a meaningful problem to solve. As I've written previously, some of the easiest ways to identify these opportunities come by looking at problems within your own community or drawing from things you've experienced firsthand.

A big part of why these methods are so valuable is because they help you identify issues that you are going to be more passionate about. As a result, your business endeavors are more likely to be warmly received and create a meaningful impact.

2. Identify successful in similar markets

I recently had the chance to speak with Alex Cruder, CEO of Curbie. During our conversation, he advised, "Pay close attention to business models and products that work well in similar markets to your own, but aren't currently available in your area. Look for ways to bring these concepts to your local market, as they will have much lower risk than more novel ideas. For example, I saw the success of online car dealerships in the United States, a that had not yet been introduced in . Bringing an already-successful to a new market led to incredible growth."

Even in our digital-centric age, many successful businesses are still confined to a particular country or region. This gives you the opportunity to establish your own similar business in your own area. The basic business model and product line have already been proven. Using this model to launch your own is an easy course to success.

Related: 5 Simple Ways to Identify Business Ideas That Could (Really) Change the World

3. A new approach to a tried-and-true idea

In a 2009 on-campus podcast interview, Raffi Amit, professor of at Wharton, gave this example of how digital entrepreneurs develop winning ideas: "You could go back to the beginning of , where they saw an opportunity to connect people through launching a virtual flea market. It offered a platform that connected buyers and sellers directly."

This description of eBay as a "virtual flea market" doesn't make it sound too unique, but that's a big part of what helped make it so successful. It took a concept that people already knew and understood and brought it to the digital world. This same idea has worked for countless other brands. Finding ways to digitize or otherwise streamline an in-demand concept will fuel rapid growth.

4. It's something people are asking for

Regardless of whether you currently run your own business or are working in a 9-to-5 job, your gives you ample opportunity to hear from customers. Direct customer feedback, buying trends and other requests give you greater insight into what the market wants and needs. 

Sometimes, your customers will ask for something that isn't currently being offered. Other times, they'll want something similar to what is already available, but better. Whether the opportunity lies in a new product or improved , paying close attention to what customers are saying is key for identifying business models that will be well-received by your local market.

5. There is an opportunity to act quickly

While market research and other preparatory steps are certainly important, many of the most meaningful business opportunities are those which allow for a fast launch and an agile, iterative approach. This allows you to respond quickly to market disruptions and pivot so you can better serve customers with your winning idea.

Being the first in your market with a particular idea also gives you the opportunity to establish yourself as the market leader. As one example, an evaluation of pharmaceutical launches by McKinsey found that on average, the first product to market maintained 40 percent of the market 10 years after its launch. Those that were fifth to market or later only achieved 10 percent of the total market share.

The advantage was even greater for drugs that had a longer lead time before other competitors entered the market. The ability to get into the market first has played a big role in the successes of brands ranging from Amazon to Kellogg.

Related: 7 Ways to Identify Real, Money-Making Business Opportunities

At the end of the day, you'll never know if a business opportunity delivers meaningful results until you test the market. However, by using these principles to help you better identify and evaluate ideas, you will be better poised for successful market entry.

Don't delay when you have a winning business idea in hand. The sooner you act, the greater your impact on the marketplace will be.

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