During the pandemic, the U.S. saw a surge in entrepreneurship, with the number of new business applications higher during the summer of 2020 than at any time in the past 15 years. Then in 2021, more than 5.4 million people filed business applications—a 20% increase from the previous year, according to U.S. Census Bureau data. The momentum continued, with over 5 million businesses being formed in 2022. Although the pace of new business creation has slowed slightly, the number is still far higher today than before the pandemic. Side hustles are also trending and a great way to test new business ideas. According to a survey by the American Staffing Association that The Harris Poll conducted, 58% of adults will likely get a second job or side gig in the next year. This situation isn’t surprising given that rising costs mean employees are looking for innovative ways to boost their income. Now that we see mass layoffs—especially among tech companies—many experts predict that there will be a spike in new businesses. More people want to be a first-time entrepreneur so they can get the freedom and flexibility they crave. So, whether you’re thinking of starting a side hustle or a full-time business, here are ten tips to help you succeed:
1. Embrace economic uncertainty
Many might assume that launching a business during a recession is too risky. Yet, it might be the perfect time, depending on your product or service. For one thing, a difficult economic situation leads to new problems that must be solved. Another advantage is that you inherently have less competition entering the market. So, if you can understand your consumer and how to position your product as a better solution than your competitors, that’s a formula for success.
2. Prepare to fail
Research supports the fact that failure represents an opportunity for a first-time entrepreneur to learn. That learning enables knowledge growth that can play a significant role in the success of subsequent endeavors. Ultimately, seeing failure as a positive experience is a conscious choice. Every entrepreneur fails at one time or another. The difference between a successful entrepreneur and others is that they don’t give up. Instead, they learn from the experience, adjust, and move forward. In fact, failures should be celebrated because they show that you are strong and have the power to overcome obstacles.
3. Lean into your strengths
Everyone has natural strengths, whether it’s the ability to negotiate, listen, problem-solve, communicate, write, or any number of talents. The key is to identify your strengths and lean into them. Then, you can supplement your weaknesses. It’s better to spend your time driving business growth than focusing on skills outside your expertise.
4. Create a strong support system
Being a first-time entrepreneur and business owner is hard. You can only expect to get through the highs and lows with a robust support system behind you. While friends and family are important, you will also need experienced mentors. These people in your network have been where you want to be and can share their experiences to help you succeed.
5. Avoid perfection
Perfection doesn’t exist, especially in the world of entrepreneurship. The key is just to get started. Take a first step. Don’t overthink it by waiting for the perfect business plan or the ideal economy. You could have the most revolutionary idea on the planet, but if you don’t turn it into something tangible, it’s still just a dream.
6. Solve a problem
An essential question you must be able to answer is, “What problem does my product or service solve?” It doesn’t need to be complicated, but you should be able to answer what you’re trying to accomplish with your business. Then when it comes time to create your marketing plan, you’ll be able to outline customer benefits.
7. Know your audience
Many businesses fail because they don’t know their customer. Spend time learning about your target audience before starting the design process. You should know their age, income, hobbies, pain points, and more. By researching these details, you can offer practical solutions to meet their needs.
8. Start with a narrow focus
One of the biggest mistakes entrepreneurs make is going too broad. Don’t try to be everything to everyone. Instead, focus on a niche market and design a product that addresses your customer’s unique needs. This approach will also make it easier to develop your marketing plan because you’ll know where to find your ideal client.
9. Be ready to adapt and pivot
Businesses don’t succeed long-term without being able to adapt and pivot. It’s like sailing. When the wind changes, you need to be able to change course as needed. You’ll still get to your destination; it will just take a bit more effort and planning.
10. Do something you truly love
You will only succeed as an entrepreneur if you find an activity you genuinely believe in. Businesses experience peaks and valleys, especially in the early years. If you aren’t passionate about what you do, it won’t be easy to persevere. Look at Arianna Huffington. When she first launched the Huffington Post, a critic wrote that it was “an unsurvivable failure.” Years later, she sold the company to AOL for $315 million.
If you want to start a business, there is no better time than the present. You can benefit from the surge in entrepreneurship to network with other potential small business owners. Chances are, you are also working remotely, which gives you added flexibility. Yes, the thought of becoming a first-time entrepreneur can be daunting. But regret—that’s a lot scarier.