Posted on 3 July, 2018 | 4 mins
To celebrate Independence Day, we asked digital marketer and young entrepreneur Hannah Power to tell us what she’s learnt since branching out to start a business of her very own—a digital marketing agency based in Bali.
If your definition of "BYOB" is “be your own boss,” it might be time to consider starting your own business. The very notion may feel like the equivalent of sprinting up a mountain. But with the right mindset and a strong plan, becoming an entrepreneur is beyond achievable.
I did it when I started POWERnomads—a digital marketing agency based out of Bali, Indonesia. While the prospect of being a young entrepreneur of my own fledgling company was daunting at first, there are particular lessons I think other young entrepreneurs can take and run with.
Here are a few tips to start your own business and finally make the leap towards professional independence.
Managing your mindset
It all starts with your approach. Starting a new business requires a tremendous amount of time and energy. You have to really want to succeed. More often than not, obstacles will come your way. You'll find yourself stuck in a rut, dealing with the inevitable failures and setbacks that'll come. And when that happens, you have to push through and be ready for it.
You have to fully believe in what you are doing, or you’re going to have an uphill battle getting the customer to buy in. Passion and drive are essential.
It’s also important to go into the experience with a spirit of learning. Yes, you need to have a strong foundational idea and a working understanding of how to make it work as a business. But you will not know everything you need to be successful right from the get-go. You’ll learn the bulk of it as you go along. If you are willing to continuously improve for the benefit of your idea and your business, you can expect to learn more in the first three months of entrepreneurship than in three years of university.
Making it happen
Once you have a golden idea and are mentally ready to undertake the challenges of starting your business, it’s time to get down to business—quite literally. This means taking a critical and objective look at your idea to ensure it is focussed and fit to be marketable. Before you even consider launching your product, you must be absolutely clear on:
1. What your business is: Can you easily describe it to someone in a sentence or two? Having a clear “elevator pitch” helps you build interest with investors, potential customers and those in your network who may be able to assist you along the way with ideas or expertise.
2. What need does your business solve? Why should people care? What will it do for them?
3. Who is it for? You can’t and shouldn’t be all things to all people. As Airbnb’s CEO Brian Chesky says: “build something 100 people love, not something 1 million people kind of like”. Know your target audience, and learn everything you can about them so you can deliver the product they actually want, not the one you think they want.
4. What makes you different? There’s a lot of clutter in the world, and a tonne of businesses. You need to know and be able to articulate what makes your product or service different from what’s already out there. This is particularly important if it falls into a category that currently exists. What’s the “secret sauce” that makes your pizza better than any other?
5. Setting up processes and systems early on can also help you keep on track and organised amidst the rapid changes that can arise as your business takes shape. This includes having a written business plan you can refer to, share with trusted advisors and amend as needed. You’ll also benefit from using productivity tools such as Office 365. Staying organised will help you track items such as cash flow, timelines, tasks, basic accounting and SO much more! If you want to be seen as a business, it’s important to operate like a business.
Getting the word out
When you’re ready to launch your business, your marketing plan will help you get the word out to your potential customers. This means you need to craft a strategic approach well before you go to market. There are many methods: PR, advertising, social media, ad campaigns, email marketing, etc. Many of which now can overlap. But it’s important to understand why you’re using specific marketing channels and invest only in those that will help you reach your particular audience and achieve your goals. Otherwise, you’ll waste time and money on messaging that goes nowhere towards building your client base.
Of course, the message is as important as the medium. You need to be able to tell your audience in a succinct and memorable way the ‘what’s in it for them’. Know the value of your business first. Then make it unmistakably clear to your intended audience so they can get excited about it, too.
Meet your mentor
Even if you are the sole owner of your business, you cannot go through the process of bringing your idea to reality alone. Engaging trusted advisors can help you see flaws or blind spots you didn’t recognise on your own. They can also spark up a new idea on how to simplify a process. It’s important to stay humble and seek the guidance of others. It can be particularly helpful to get connected with a mentor, or an accelerator group that can provide invaluable expertise and an outlet for sharing ideas, frustrations and successes.
At the same time, always remember at the end of the day that the business is your ultimate responsibility and your passion project. It’s important to be confident in your decision-making and not take on the advice of every single person you mention your business to. You can’t please everyone and as the boss, you have to answer to yourself in the end.
Ultimately, the only way to succeed at starting a business is to actually start a business—a rule that works regardless of what age you are. By practising a balance of passionate drive and practical development, you can set out to bring your great idea to reality and finally become an entrepreneur. It’s a road that’s not without challenges, sure. But it'll ultimately be highly rewarding if you succeed. Now, it’s time to get going! Good luck!
Hannah Power is the founder of POWERnomads—a company set up to provide agency-standard digital marketing skills without the price tag by empowering a host of digital nomads.