Before Scratching the Entrepreneurial Itch: 5 Tips to Get You Started

A new year ushers in new beginnings; it is a time to plan, prepare, and strategize. It is a time to envision how you want the rest of the year to look. It’s the season for vision boards and resolutions.

We all have dreams. Some of us have nursed these dreams since childhood. And some people have sadly lost hope in their dreams. But the new year offers us a clean slate and encourages us to dream again.

Over the last couple of years, so much has happened. Life as we knew it dramatically changed due to the pandemic, civil unrest, and so much more. New problems have evolved, new ways of life have emerged. There is no better time to tune into your innovative inner self.

Have you ever had a relentless nudge to take that leap of faith and start your own thing? The only way to relieve that entrepreneurial itch is to scratch it. With the current state of the world, I truly believe this is one of the most accessible times to become an entrepreneur; whether it is a side hustle or a full-on career change, it is possible to convert your dreams into realities.

Here are some helpful tips to get you started:

Tip #1: Scratch the surface

The phrase “preparation is key” is not just a cliché. When starting a new business venture, it is essential to do your research. There is no point in trying to reinvent the wheel, however the wheel can have many variations. You need to determine what makes your idea unique. Ask yourself this question: What do I have to bring to the table? If you truly want that seat at the table of your industry, you have to be able to answer this question clearly.

Unfortunately, there is no shortcut to answering this question. You have to get to work and get your hands dirty, so your first assignment is to conduct market research. Market research is defined on Entrepreneur.com as “The process of gathering, analyzing and interpreting information about a market, about a product or service to be offered for sale in that market, and about the past, present and potential customers for the product or service; research into the characteristics, spending habits, location and needs of your business’s target market, the industry as a whole, and the particular competitors you face.”

Now I know that’s a mouthful, so let me break it down for you:

  • Identify the need for your product or service
  • Identify your target consumers
  • Identify your competitors

It may sound overwhelming, and you may be tempted to throw your ideas away, but not so fast! All this information is easily accessible. It’s as simple as a Google search, watching YouTube videos, or listening to podcasts. Gathering knowledge about the industry you want to impact will arm you with the information you need to get started. This single tip will save you time, energy, and effort. Before you launch into the deep, ensure you start off by scratching the surface, then peel each layer as you progress.

Tip #2: Find your people

No business venture truly remains a sole proprietorship. Teamwork makes the dream work, right? There are various types of people that make up an effective dream team. Find and connect with those who have excelled in their own business. Learn from their mistakes and their successes. And don’t shrug off the idea of getting a business mentor or advisor through an organization like SCORE.

Next up is to get some cheerleaders on your side. Identify people who believe in you and are willing to support your dreams no matter how wild they seem. Share your ideas with them and be open to their feedback. Have people in your corner that can keep it real with you without hurting you.

Lastly, be willing to collaborate. Partner with someone who believes in your vision and is ready to put in the work. If you’d like to go this route, be sure to get some solid agreements in place in terms of specific roles and responsibilities. Focus on each other’s strengths and how they contribute to the business’ success. Your business is as successful as the bond you create with your people.

Tip #3: Sell yourself

Many people don’t want to purchase a product or support a brand without knowing the face behind it. Consumers are becoming more and more interested in learning the inspiration behind a particular product or service, so be willing to share your story. Social media offers incredible and easy tools to engage with your target consumers for free! Creating content does not have to be complicated; all you need is your phone to get started.

Consider creating short video clips about your service or product and posting them on platforms like Instagram and TikTok. You can also start a conversation on social media around your business idea and encourage people to share their stories and ideas while simultaneously getting feedback on your own.

Tip #4: Start small

Don’t be in a hurry to set up a professional photo shoot or hire a website developer just yet. Maximize your available resources and utilize free and affordable platforms. Get the word out about your products or services on your social media, and take advantage of Big Cartel’s free plan to start selling. Allow your brand to evolve with time. Embrace the process; it takes a while to get into a stable groove.

In the beginning you don’t need to spend a lot of time, money, and energy on the exterior, such as the branding of your business or the packaging of your product. While branding your business is essential, the amount of effort expelled into designing your packaging and acquiring supplies can turn into quite a headache. Search within your network- oftentimes what you need is closer than you thought. You can speak to a friend who is into graphic design to help you out, or use platforms such as Upwork and Fiverr to get quality work done for any budget.

Keep in mind you may not be able to quit your regular job immediately. Keep working, save up, and when it is time to wave goodbye to your old full-time gig, be sure that your new business can sustain you.

Tip #5: Time is of the essence

There is a popular equation that you may be familiar with: Preparation + Opportunity = Success. We all know it but we don’t like to admit it - your dream won’t come to life if you keep procrastinating. Take some time to think about what’s been holding you back, and put in the work to move past those nagging thoughts. The sooner you put in the work, the sooner you’ll be realizing your dream.

The most common piece of advice from Big Cartel’s Meet the Cartel interview series is to just go for it! Arm yourself with a business plan and run with your vision. Don’t give up until you accomplish your goals. There will be challenges, but that’s just part of the process. Remember why you started doing this and it’ll keep you going during the tough times. Trust your intuition and go ahead and scratch that entrepreneurial itch!

Bunmi Adebiyi

Bunmi Adebiyi is an author, writer, and blogger. She lives in Houston, TX.

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