• Starting a new business? Moving from self-employment to a formal business plan? Having worked with many new business owners and budding entrepreneurs, I’ve come up with my TOP 3 STARTING OUT STRATEGIES:


1) Take the time to find out what you DON’T KNOW.


  • You may be an expert in the product or service you are offering- most likely this is the passion that inspired you to become an entrepreneur in the first place. But you probably aren’t an expert in running your own business. And that’s okay- if you take the time learn.


  • The good news is that creating a business plan isn’t rocket science, and there are plenty of resources out there. But don’t just google “business plan,” fill in the blanks and think you’re ready to go- whatever time you can spare, invest it- in a program or course that you can apply to your business idea. A mentor or business advisor will ask you the hard questions and point you in the direction of answers.


  • Too afraid to look at those questions? Better to find out now that your business idea isn’t viable than to spend months or years digging yourself into a hole!


2) Invest in Marketing and Branding from the START.


  • Some fledgling entrepreneurs feel this is putting the cart before the horse- how can you market a product or service that you are still just testing out? How can you “put yourself out there” in those early days when you might make mistakes? It may feel scary but marketing and branding are really just the HOW and the WHAT of communicating the value of your business. They are an absolute necessity- and can also take up a lot of time. Once you get busy trying to serve your customers or clients you will wish you had already built that great website or created a fantastic brand that could take you to the next level.


3) LOVE  your Critics.


  • Enamoured with the power of positive thinking? Think again! Starting a business is definitely not the time to don rose coloured glasses. You need real feedback about your offering- from whether your business name resonates with your target market to whether there is enough demand for your service, or how much your customers are willing to pay for your product. Now is the time to move beyond the encouragement of family and friends and seek out real customer validation. Do some market research- and remember- most people will tell you what they think you want to hear. Be clear that honest responses will help you more than flattery.


  • Sound contradictory? Starting a new business takes courage – if you’ve been brave enough to take the leap, be brave enough to get educated, put yourself out there and get real feedback. You’ll be glad you did.


  • Erica Halvorsen teaches Marketing and Public Speaking at BCIT. She also creates effective and authentic brands for small businesses at Erica Jane Consulting.