Ten tips for aspiring entrepreneurs

Recently I began attending a business development workshop hosted by Women 2.0.  On our first class, we had the opportunity to speak with the intelligent and business savvy CEO of AllVoices.com, Amra Tareen. She happily answered our questions about starting a business,  one of them being the need for finding the right people to collaborate and work with.  She noted having gone through a couple of rounds of first employees and founders until she found the right ones.  She also shared with us the reason for starting AllVoices, the technology behind the site, and other business development tips.

People always have great ideas, but ideas are a dime a dozen.  Not all ideas will be profitable.  When my brother and I first started thinking of building a business, we had something in mind but no idea how to execute it.  We also made the mistake of not sharing our idea, which I believe ultimately kept us from proceeding in the proper manner.  Another set back was that we wanted to launch a web business but didn’t have $$ to pay a developer.  Since we didn’t want to tell anyone about our idea, we became stagnant as I tried to learn code for the web.

Here are a few things I’ve learned in the past couple of years about starting a business:

  1. If you have an idea, do research, find out who your competitors are and figure out what you are going to do that is better than your competitors.
  2. Find out if your idea has a market.  Are you solving a problem? Are you creating a niche market? Interview people, find your first ten customers.
  3. Develop a marketing strategy.  Once you have a product, will you expect people to just know you have one?  How do you get them to visit your website? How will they know you exist?
  4. Write a business plan.  Even if you aren’t looking for Venture capital or a bank loan, writing a business plan will help you figure out  HOW YOU WILL MAKE $$$.
  5. Practice your elevator pitch.  It needs to include: what your company is; what you are planning on doing and why it’s interesting; when will it launch; and how you plan to make $$, all in a matter of 30 seconds to one minute.
  6. Attend networking events, business seminars, conferences, trade shows, events at business incubators, subscribe to groups and answer questions on linkedin, join discussions on twitter; make your presence known in both the web and in your local communities.
  7. If you’re trying to find venture capital, participate in some business plan competitions, even if you don’t win, you’ll be able to get good feedback from the judges or other competitors.
  8. If you’re trying to launch a site, build a prototype first: venture capitalists want to see that your site is getting traffic.
  9. If you’re trying to manufacture a product, make some calls to different US manufacturers.  Eventually you will find a company that will let you know how much it will cost you and what they will need from you to get started.
  10. Don’t give up in spite of setbacks.  If you’re trying to start a bakery and your oven at home will not be repaired until two weeks later, don’t take that as a sign that things won’t work out; take it as a sign that success is difficult to achieve and when you get set back, you just have to find a new way to bake cookies!

I’m not a successful entrepreneur yet and will sometimes even forget my own advice or will get down when things don’t work out as planned.  However, what will make us succeed will be our stamina, passion, and a supporting team.

If you’re interested in networking with other women or are a 50% women owned busines who is  looking for resources, visit Women2.org.

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