I recently attended the 2012 Small Business Entrepreneur Expo, hosted by Chicago City Treasurer Stephanie D. Neely. This event took place at the UIC Forum and there were over 1,000 people in attendance at the expo—which also offered workshops and panel discussions for both current and aspiring entrepreneurs.
Many of my clients are small business owners and entrepreneurs, so I truly enjoyed being a part of this event for myself, as well as learning new information that could benefit my clients.
During the event I went to several workshops and panel discussions that offered business advice or tips on themes such as social media, public relations, branding, and legal issues.
Of all the great information shared, the info that could benefit aspiring entrepreneurs was most impactful and empowering. Below are five tips that could benefit aspiring entrepreneurs, before they write their business plan.
Practice makes perfect. Before you officially launch your business, test your products and services. For example, if you are an aspiring wedding photographer, shoot a few events for free or for a discounted price. Share the photos with family and friends you trust and ask for their feedback. Don’t wait until your business has begun and expect success, if you have not tested out your products or services.
Build your community today. Sometimes people wait until their business launches to begin speaking to their customers. You don’t have to do this. If you are passionate about wedding photography, create simple opportunities to express your talent and demonstrate your photography skills. Use channels such as a blog, social media account, or webisode series to showcase your passion for this industry. You don’t have to mention your future company until you have developed your brand identity (visuals that speak to your brand) and are ready to launch a marketing campaign.
Use free resources. In many cities there are non-profit organizations that offer resources, mentoring, workshops, webinars, and start up programs for aspiring entrepreneurs for minimal costs. In Chicago, one popular organization is the Women’s Business Development Center (WBDC). They offer assistance for female entrepreneurs at all phases of their business development and growth process. Many industry experts even offer free newsletters, webinars, or downloadable white papers on their website.
Do your homework (research). Learn about your industry. Know your competitors. Make a list of what you like about their business and what things you would change. Will you bring a different experience to the marketplace? Entrepreneurs solve problems. What problem will you solve? Also, identify your customer. Make sure you know who will be buying your products or services.
Save money. When you become an entrepreneur, success is not guaranteed. It takes a lot of hard work and determination. If you are working at a 9-5, before you leap into this journey, save money. This money can be used to help launch your business’s marketing and promotional materials; pay for special training or a consultant; or as a nest egg for a rainy day after the business has launched.
Implementing these tips will give you a sneak preview at the new journey you will be embarking upon. It will also create a solid foundation for when you develop your business plan.
Wishing you all the best, Business Rock Stars!
What advice would you give to an aspiring entrepreneur? Share your ideas below or tweet them to me @bestrategicPR. #BeStrategic #entrepreneur