7 Things You Should Know Before Starting a Business

Today Virtual Zeta is live! After months of hard work & determination my baby was finally born into the world wide web and I couldn’t be more excited, or scared!

So today’s post is not just to announce Virtual Zeta, a site that will connect you with the perfect virtual assistant to fit your needs (guaranteed!), but also to help anyone out who wants to start a business by outlining the 7 things you should know beforehand that will save you a lot of headache & hopefully make your business a lot more profitable!

Lesson 1: Don’t, unless you’re crazy

The last week I have been working 12 hour days (myself – that doesn’t include my lovely VA’s time!) and its been hairy. 10 times a day I think to myself, “why I am doing this?” and wonder what life would be like if I followed my childhood dream of becoming a trophy wife instead (this is what happens when you spend your formative years in Las Vegas).

The lessons I have pulled from working until my eyeballs dry out is as follows:

Do not become an entrepreneur or try to build a business that will change your life, unless people think you are crazy & you often wonder sometimes if they’re right.

This sounds negative, but actually it’s positive. Every time someone has laughed at me or said “geez you’re nuts” I take solace. It means that I’m not like everyone else and that I’m on the path to success because of it. No one who has done anything great has been ‘normal’ and never been challenged. Most people that do amazing things have been called crazy, have been shot down (Guy Kawasaki shot down Google before it became a giant) and have been pushed past what they thought they could humanly endure.

So if you want to start a business be sure you know in your heart you are at least slightly crazy & 100% dedicated lest you crumble under the pressure of starting up and never make it to the promised land of seeing your dream realized.

Lesson 2: Do your research

Alright, I’m sure lesson one weeded out about 1/2 of you, so congrats to everyone who has the kahones to keep reading. I cannot stress this enough, before you start up do yourself a favor and do your due diligence! It amazes me how many people get an idea for a business and then go hog wild without doing any research to see whether or not it’s viable. A year later they’ll be 50k in debt & crying about it on forum, saying that starting a business doesn’t work and is only for ‘lucky’ people. This is a crock. Luck has nothing to do with it, success depends on your savvy & your diligence – doing your research encompasses both areas.

So instead of wasting years of your life or thousands of dollars, spend 3 days researching everything you can on your business through Google, forums, reading your competition’s press releases and searching for things like ‘market size’ + your business type. These simple exercises will show you whether or not you can succeed and if not, it’s cool, just pivot into something better and keep on trucking towards entrepreneurial nirvana, cowboy!

Lesson 3: Know your “why”

An amazing book I’ve talked about before is “Start with Why” I suggest you read it before starting up or if you’re in the middle of a business, take a few days to digest the message and then re-evaluate where you are and how you can be better.

Knowing the “why” behind your start up is essential to building something amazing. The few exceptions are if you are starting a chain of gas stations (wouldn’t recommend it) or building a jock strap factory (maybe you could bedazzle them?).

The why behind your product, service or offering is essential to narrowing down your target market & it comes in handy when you are differentiating yourself from the competition. Your why could be the special process you use to produce X, the TLC behind your service or the amazing new technology that powers your offering. As long as your why is unique and defensible you’ll be in good stead as you journey on.

Lesson 4: Get lean & mean

Too many people tell me “I’d build a business, if only…” 9 times out of 10 I can outline a way they could do what they are saying by tightening their belts and getting down and dirty. Yet 8 times out of 10 they don’t listen and instead prefer to ‘hope’ for a sizable investment to drop into their lap before they build anything.

This is nonsense! Get going, get building, start drawing prototypes on napkins… whatever it is! You won’t get a dime of money if you have nothing to show for it, unless you are a seriously smooth talker or you’re willing to go into debt up to your eyeballs.

Let me save you some pain & high interest fees, by telling you instead of raising money or begging family and friends try to build your business on next to nothing and see how far you get. You’ll be surprised that a lack of money actually forces one to become far more creative & witty than a fat infusion of capital ever would.

Lesson 5: Do not stop, ever

Your life as an entrepreneur is much like the movie Speed. The premise of the movie was if the bus slowed down they’d explode and it pretty much correlates exactly with the life of a start up founder. Stop moving and you will blow up. Get comfortable and you will fail. Stop caring and it’s over.

Regardless if 10 terrible things happen to you within a week’s time, you can’t let it get to you. You have to suppress the human instinct to give up and instead use hardship as fuel for your fire. Every time someone tells me I can’t do something, or I fall on my face, I get back up (usually after a bit of pity partying) and resolve, with more vigor than before, to not only do what I set out to do, but to do it even better.

So when one door closes, look for a window, or a doggy door orĀ  a battery ram you can use to break the door down. Pivot constantly (never think your idea can’t be improved on) and quit a project if you don’t think it’s right, but never, ever stop moving towards your goal of becoming a successful entrepreneur & launching a business that will change the world.

Lesson 6: Don’t be a Tweaker

I have a huge, hidden fault. I’m a crazy tweaker. No, not the kind that huffs hairspray or walks around talking to themselves – the kind that will tweak a project to infinity & beyond. My awesome, long suffering partner Noel knows this all too well. It has taken ALL of my inner strength to actually go live with Virtual Zeta instead of spending another month, or year, tweaking the design – the functionality – even the type face.

I’ve realized the reason I tweak so much (sounds weird I know) is because I’m scared deep down of the ‘what next’ after launching. It’s easy to design a website, to outsource the graphics & to get something ‘out there’ but it’s hard to actually get a product or service to market & start making sales in a

Lesson 7: Become the World’s greatest salesman

This is the absolute hardest thing about being an entrepreneur, for me at least. Learning how to sell, how to market and how to become an amazing ‘pitchman’ is a feat that I doubt 95% of business owners ever really master. But if you do you will never want for anything for the rest of your life. If you can sell, I mean really sell, you can do anything and go anywhere.

To become an amazing marketer and salesman takes guts, conviction (you must truly believe in your offering) and the psychological resilience to be turned down 100 times and ring that figurative 101st doorbell. Even though I’m still very much in the process of learning how to sell, I’m pushing myself every day to figure out how to better pitch & sell Virtual Zeta to meet the goals I’ve set for that business. You can do the same thing by reading books, listening to podcasts and slurping up every resource you can find on the subject. Become a knowledge glutton.

So now that I’ve learned the 7 lessons outlined above (the last one is still a work in progress), it’s time to get out there and market Virtual Zeta like my life depended on it (which ironically, it kind of does). I believe in the service 100% and am really happy at the end result of all our hard work, so my next steps are to:

  1. Execute our market plan (if I can do a guest post for you or anything, let me know!)
  2. Sign up Affiliates (there’s a nice $75 a pop affiliate commission… hint, hint)
  3. Starting placing VA’s with entrepreneurs from all over the world, because VA’s rock & we love to find good ones!

So if you need a VA check out Virtual Zeta, if you think you may need a VA but are still unsure email me at marenkate(At)gmail(dot)com and if you want to make some money as an affiliate for VZ we’d love to have you! Besides that check out my new business baby and tell me what you think!

I love questions, comments or testimonials… so if you’re feeling chatty say hello below!