What It Takes to Be a Successful Entrepreneur in 2021
For many, the American dream includes owning a business. At the Oregon Small Business Development Center, our mission is to help entrepreneurs realize that dream and their full potential by providing services like small business advising, business planning, and a variety of specialty programs that can help entrepreneurs in every area of business. But the first step in creating a profitable and thriving business is understanding what it takes to be a successful entrepreneur in 2021.
According to data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics, as reported by Fundera, approximately 20% of small businesses fail within the first year. By the end of the second year, it’s 30% of businesses, and by the end of the fifth year, about half will have failed. That’s why it’s smart to think through your business plan and consult with professionals who can help guide you before you start your business.
So what do you need to know before you set out on your first, or next, business venture?
Create a Business Plan
A business plan is crucial to the success of any small business. Whether you are a freelance graphic designer who contracts with different companies or a brick-and-mortar store with 15 employees, having a written plan for where you’re going and how you’re going to get there is a MUST!
At the Oregon SBDC, we use a tool called LivePlan to help business owners from start-up to scaling. LivePlan breaks the business planning process down into simple steps with instructions and examples and is fully customizable. LivePlan also makes budgeting and forecasting easy. All you have to do is enter your projected sales along with your anticipated expenses, and LivePlan will automatically create your financial statements.
SET S.M.A.R.T. Goals
The art of goal-setting doesn’t just take into account the end goal. It’s about breaking down that end goal into small, actionable steps that you implement daily, weekly, monthly, and yearly. A common goal-setting method for small-business owners is the S.M.A.R.T. method (specific, measurable, attainable, relevant, time-based).
S.M.A.R.T. goals help you clarify your goal, focus your efforts, and use your time and resources productively to increase your chances of success.
If you’re having trouble achieving your goals by the time frame you’ve set, make sure to go back and review them. Ask yourself these questions:
- Is this goal too broad?
- Does the goal need to be broken down more?
- Do I have the capacity to achieve this goal?
- Is this goal still a focus for my business?
As your business grows and changes, so will your goals—and that’s OK! There is nothing wrong with adjusting your goals as you move throughout the year.
Do Your Research
The Market Research Institute provides customized research reports and market intelligence for established businesses that anticipate growth. This data helps businesses identify opportunities, better understand the competitive landscape, refine their business plans, and make more informed business decisions.
Although you can start some businesses on a scrappy budget with very little overhead and cost, having funding in place is a strategic move for businesses that require more capital to get off the ground. This is where small-business funding can help. Resources like business loans and crowdfunding can help alleviate the stress of startup costs. There are a range of options for accessing capital:
- Government-funded small business loans (SBA)
- Private business loans (banks, credit unions, etc.)
- Angel investors
- Income from a 9-to-5 job
- Lines of credit
Each of these options will have its pros and cons and different requirements. Figure out which are best for you at each stage of your business and entrepreneurship journey.
Leverage Your Network
How can your network affect your net worth? Whether you’re launching a product- or service-based business, tapping into your network is one of the best ways to get it off the ground.
You never know what opportunities will come out of connecting with the people who already know, like, and trust you. Here are a few ways to leverage your network:
- Attend networking events (virtual and in person) to meet potential clients.
- Get the message out about your business by email.
- Share about your business venture on social media.
- Join organizations that complement your product or service.
- Ask acquaintances for introductions to others in their network.
Be sure to be genuine and professional in these business relationships. Also, don’t forget that you need to add value to the lives of the other people in your professional network as well!
Seek Advice and Mentorship
Seeking professional advice and mentorship can help cut down on the hard lessons small-business owners often have to learn and help get your business started on the right foot. Connecting with the right business adviser or mentor can be an invaluable move for your business.
Oregon SBDC advisers are knowledgeable business professionals experienced in a variety of topics, including writing a business plan, analyzing cash flow, marketing, hiring, and intellectual property concerns. Our advisers understand how to do business in Oregon, and they can support you with valuable, relevant advice at every stage of your business venture.
Each of our 19 centers provides confidential, no-cost business advising to help you succeed. Advising requires filling out our online intake form and, at some centers, attending a free introductory workshop to see if advising is right for you.
Now that you understand what it takes to be a successful entrepreneur, it’s time to put the wheels into motion. Whether you’re at the beginning stages of planning your business, ready to launch, or a few months in, the Oregon Small Business Development Center is here to assist you. To learn more about our services, click here.
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