23523521If you listened to my radio show this morning Views From the Top, you would have heard form four wonderful business owners who were on panel. They shared their experiences and tips for starting and growing a business in a down economy. It was a wonderful and inspiring conversation because two of the panelists have just started brand new businesses and are full of enthusiasm. Two had long since established their businesses and have adapted to the changing environment so that they come out on top when the economy turns. Here are my tips for starting a business:

  • Establish a passion. What is it you love? What makes you feel so happy that you would do it for free (although you won’t!)? figure out what that “it” thing is and embrace it. The more passionate you are about something, the more likely it will become a success.
  • Study industries into the future. When contemplating a business, determine if there is longevity for it. Follow the trends to see what’s rising and falling, then plan accordingly. Knowing where an industry is heading can give you insight into what actions you need to do to make the business successful.
  • Create a need. There’s a market for almost everything. Figure out what pressing need is on people’s minds, then work to create a product or service solution. Get out and start creating a buzz for your product or service. Draw attention to the fact that people need it.
  • Create a business plan. Do I even have to expound on this? I readily admit that I’ve run two successful businesses without a business plan. However, this business, Empower Me, requires that I have a business plan. A business plan gives you clear insight into the direction of your company. Plus it could lead to funding. So get to work and get it done.
  • Market excessively and set aside budgeted funds for marketing. Before you form your mouth to say it’s not in the budget, consider this. The more visible you are the more likely people will buy from you. Market now so that clients will come to you in the future. Visibility will make people choose you over the competition who cuts back on marketing.
  • Network. Of course you know I had to throw this in there. Networking isn’t about just exchanging cards or friending people on social networking sites. Seek to build relationships and understand what they bring to the table. You never know when a strategic partnership may develop.
  • Don’t think “money” think value and equity. Money is the main reason people abandon their entrepreneurial dreams. It doesn’t have to keep you from moving forward. Learn to improvise. Use interns, barter service, seek free help (although you really need to be careful with this). There are non-monetary ways to get the things you need. Find them then tap into them. There are ways to improvise when you don’t have the big budget.
  • Treat it like a REAL business. I hate that I have to say that. I detest the use of terms like “side hustle”. If you are going into business for yourself, think of yourself as in business. Think of yourself as a CEO. Treat your business like it is a high level corporation, even if the only employee is you. How you see your business reflects in how people perceive it.

Don’t let this so called recession keep you from stepping out on your own. Some of the most famous Fortune 500 and Inc 100 companies started during bad economies and are  flourishing today. I hope these tips help you get started. We all know that for some people, corporate isn’t their destiny. If you’re thinking about ditching that 9-5, be sure to follow the tips I shared above.

Good luck!

Adrienne Graham