Advice for First-Time Entrepreneurs

Starting your own business can be both exhilarating and challenging. Experienced entrepreneurs often strive to pass along the lessons they wish they had learned earlier in their careers. Here is some common advice from leaders in a variety of industries:

Develop confidence in yourself and in your product or service. If you don’t believe in your ideas, no one else will. Know how your innovations will make a positive difference in customers’ lives. Love your work, and keep your passion and optimistic outlook strong to sustain you through difficult times.

Focus on quality, and make sure everyone on your team embraces the standards you put in place. Hire team members who understand how to translate your vision into highly positive customer experiences at every point of contact.

Keep a strong focus on core operations that define your business, rather than spreading your resources too thin geographically or conceptually.

Hire or outsource work to people with detailed understanding of the key functions of your business, rather than relying solely on your own knowledge.

When hiring, don’t rely on a résumé and a superficial interview. Challenge potential hires by requiring completion of a task, and broaden your interview panel to include the key employees who will be working with the new hire.

Learn from your mistakes quickly. When necessary, apologize to customers, and take steps to resolve outstanding problems in a positive way. Then move forward with the actionable intelligence you’ve gained.

Don’t become so attached to your business that you lose the perspective to recognize the right time to sell it, move on, or hand over the reins to a successor.

Listen to your instincts, and don’t hesitate to try something that shows potential. A calculated risk can pay off, or can at least provide a valuable learning experience that will guide you through subsequent projects.