The Ultimate Startup Cheat Sheet: 10 Things You Must Do

If you’re looking for a succinct and on-point list of all the essentials you need to know when starting your own business, then read on.

This is your ultimate cheat guide to build your company successfully from the get-go. Though the buzz word is “cheat,” what we’re mainly talking about here is a no-nonsense explanation on the essential factors you should know and act on before taking your first step into business.

1. Make a Decision

You’re probably reading this because you’re thinking of starting your own business. That’s good, but you must be firm on your decision.

Running a business may sound like a glamourous dream, but it involves a lot of hard work, time, and sacrifice. A lot of people prefer being on the other end of a paycheck and some can even earn considerably more than a struggling business owner. If you’re one of those people, consider your options if building a company is the right path for you.

You’ll only succeed if you approach business ownership whole-heartedly and keep in mind serious efforts are needed before you gain any return on investment.

If you’re absolutely certain and have imagined a successful life for yourself and believe that you can achieve it by giving it your all, then you’re ready to enter entrepreneurialism.

2. Find Your Niche

Ask yourself what you’re truly good at or passionate about. If you’re good at something, it will be easier for you to venture into that field because you have the talent to do so. Don’t do something or enter into an industry just because your friend has started his or her own business and they are seeing success in that area.

Let’s say you’re a cobbler and your friend makes hats, then his or her business takes off. It might be gratifying to be in the same business to reap the same benefits; but remember, you’re good at shoes. The best way to make it into business is by setting up a shoe repair shop or a stall that sells shoes. You can also enter the shoe industry by doing something entirely different. Don’t jump into the bandwagon carelessly and regret that your business didn’t go so well unlike your friend’s.

However, if you’re truly passionate about something outside of your profession, despite being good at the job, you should follow that passion. Passion will make you work hard because you love what you do. Business has a lot of risks and you can lessen it by choosing a niche that is something you’re good at or something you are passionate about to be able to move forward when the going gets rough.

3. Sort out Your Finances

Before you enter the business world, make sure you have funds for capital and have only little to no debt. The last thing you need is an abundance of borrowed money from companies that will show you no mercy with outrageous loan fees. Don’t head into a business venture broke. Have enough money to systematically plan each step of the business—your product, day-to-day operations, payroll, marketing, and rental, etc.

You’ll probably hear “loans” and “investments” bandied around when you’re planning—ignore anything or anyone saying those words. Depending on the scale of your business and your business strategy, getting some funding is good, yet it’s even better to raise some capital on your own at first. Also, avoid debt as much as you can, when you can.

In case you’re really in dire need of money outside your own pockets, remember you have family and friends you can turn to, rather than going to loan sharks. Family members and friends are more understanding and will provide you flexible payment terms—just always make sure you pay them on time and in full.

4. Make a Business Plan

Write out your business plan in a clear and detailed format which states your goals and company structure that is feasible within a certain span of time. Doing this will help you identify what needs to be done and prepare for what’s to happen next.

It’s very important that you’re always one step ahead of the game. You’ll avoid unprecedented setbacks and can work around any obstacles, especially when you have a back plan ready. Keep in mind that your business plan is your blueprint to success.

5. Master Your Sales

To make a profit and be successful in business, you must master the art of sales. For any niche or industry, the success of the entire business will rely on this ability.

Even if you’re not selling a product off the shelf or any service on-demand, you still need to know how to sell. For instance, sell your brand. Make sure you always have a sales mindset so you can convince consumers that your product or service is something they must have and that it will solve their problem. The more you can sell, the more you can scale.

(“Mastering sales” is an important part of all businesses. It’s okay if you’re not great at it in the beginning. However, it’s still a skill you need to acquire.)

6. Always Remember Your Customers

If you have a product but no customers, you won’t be getting anywhere. A part of business is getting people to buy your product, not just make a product and get it known. Remember to engage with your customers so you can gain their trust. Once customers believe in you, they’ll begin to believe in your product. And once they believe in your product, they’ll eventually buy your product.

This is where a great marketing strategy comes in and social media is an absolute must. You must have a Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram account to always be in touch with your customers. A strong social media presence will create ample opportunity for you to interact with followers and gain new ones. People are readily eager to “share” something good. And if you’re giving off a “good vibe” to your customers, your customer base will soon grow.

7. Spend Your Cash Wisely

Sure it’s nice to put a fountain in the reception area of your new office, a pool table in the canteen, and give iPads to all members of staff, but profits must come first! Initially, all decisions must be made with your company’s money in mind.

You could argue that the ostentatious equipment and furnishings positioned around your office is conducive to a hard working environment, but spending loads of your company’s cash when you can use cheaper alternatives does not help during the startup stage.

In terms of salaries and paychecks, research what other companies paid employees when they first started out. If the reference was successful, go with it. If it’s too costly, see if you can expand your hiring pool to get talent that will cost less.

But you must avoid this: hiring a talentless candidate just because they’re financially less demanding. Their lack of input will probably end up costing your company more money in the long run. You may lose a good deal because of them or fail to get the much sought-after endorsement you so desperately need, thanks to some employee negligence.

Spend wisely. Hire wisely.

8. Know Your Way Around Tax

For legal reasons, you must thoroughly research all tax matters to ensure that you’re not operating outside of the law. You can potentially cost yourself thousands of dollars and attract a lawsuit if you’re not privy to all things tax.

Additionally, get yourself a good accountant who can guide you into knowing the ins and outs of accounting. You’ll have to read up about filing taxes for your revenues and know your obligations when it comes to business deductions, payroll, and benefits. All this can be done with a self-acquired knowledge through quick classes or consultation with experts.

9. Get Help When You Can

Don’t be afraid to ask for help. Starting a business is a tough gig. Tap into all the available resources you might have and ask for their help. The betterment of your company should be number one priority, not your ego.

There are many trade associations and small business communities you can join and seek advice from. Use them so you can learn what’s useful in your business to grow it.

10. Always Yearn To Scale

This may sound redundant to the ears of business owners and entrepreneurs, but there’s a difference between merely wanting to “own a business” and wanting to “consistently scale.”

If your business is running well in its infant years, terrific! But if you rest on those laurels, you’ll soon see your competitors whizz by your office window whilst you’re still stuck looking at the same old office walls. This isn’t about physically moving your location, it’s about financially growing your business.

When you hit your targets, create new ones. Be pro-active in creating these goals and you’ll soon begin to scale.

And that’s it. Your ultimate cheat sheet to starting your own business. Keep all ten points in mind before you launch and you’ll give yourself a head start to your rivals.

Now go and grow your business!

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