The first year or two of entrepreneurship are full of lessons for growing small business owners. I recently spoke with Nilaye Thakrar, a Member at Meridian who has his hands full with three growing businesses, we discussed what he has learned and his advice he has for new entrepreneurs.
The takeaway: five things to know before launching your business
- Succession planning is critical no matter how young or old you are
- Practice your presentation skills so you aren’t nervous with clients, investors, and the media
- Learn to identify good clients early on and be clear about project scope and payment options
- Set achievable goals to build confidence instead of lofty targets that lead to anxiety when missed
- People matter more than product to your business success - surround yourself with good ones
With over 15 years in digital marketing, working for companies like Workopolis, Rogers Communications and Simply Hired gave Thakrar the experience to launch The Thakrar Business, a consulting practice, in February, 2015. “I work with companies to help them get more digital traffic through SEO [search engine optimization], and using tools like Google analytics,” he says. The Thakrar Business offers SEO, paid search and analytics services to Fortune 500 companies in the hospitality, finance, healthcare, SaaS, and education industries.
Thakrar is also working on a product startup focused on helping recovering addicts. “We’re developing technology to coach individuals after they leave rehab,” he says. Finally, Thakrar’s third business venture involves social media mapping.
Think about succession planning
Thakrar’s number one piece of advice for anyone starting a business is to think about who will manage things if something should happen to you or one of your partners. “Think about succession planning,” he advises.
Thakrar doesn’t give this advice lightly. In May of 2015, his business partner died unexpectedly.
Thakrar says aspiring and new entrepreneurs should ask themselves ‘What would you do if your business partner gets sick or dies?’ “You aren’t indestructible,” he says. “Accidents and illness can happen to anyone, any age.”
Hone presentation skills
Running a business means presenting your product and/or services to clients, potential investors, and maybe even local media people. Entrepreneurs may overlook presentation and public speaking skills when entrepreneurs are eager to get a product to market or throw open the doors of a new store. Thakrar says “Make sure you practice your presentation skills or attend a course to learn the best way to present.”
Identify good clients immediately
Troublesome clients cause more than a nuisance -- they may eat up your valuable time and end up costing your business money. It’s important to quickly pick out good clients from the bad. “Learn how to identify a good client before getting started,” he suggests. This can save you headaches and hassles when launching your new business.
To help avoid further road bumps with clients, make sure you both understand any contract or statement of work, with timelines and deliverables clearly stated. Also ensure your clients understand the payment options so you don’t waste time chasing down late payments.
Set achievable goals
While goal-setting is an important and well-covered business topic, Thakrar says to avoid getting too aggressive with goal-setting when starting out. “Be gentle with yourself,” he says. “Set goals, but make them achievable.” Setting realistic goals help build your confidence as your business grows, and keeps new entrepreneurs from feeling discouraged when they fall short of unattainable growth.
People over product
Finally, Thakrar wants new business owners to know a successful business depends on more than a great product. “It’s all about the people,” he says. “What makes or breaks the business isn’t the product, it’s the people.” Hiring good staff, trusting your business partners, and preparing as much as you can for unknown circumstances that could impact your team and their involvement in your business can make all the difference for a new business.
To discuss further topics to help run your small business, partner with the good people at Meridian today.