The Do's & Don'ts of Starting a New Business
You have a new business idea—one you really think could sell. You're excited to launch your venture and, if you're like most small business owners, you're probably a feeling nervous about taking the plunge into full-time entrepreneurship.
 
To help ease your concerns, PayPal spoke with several small business owners to get the advice they wish someone had told them about starting a new business.
 
Do study up on basic business principles.
Dan Corcoran of Forward Printing advises spending time to learn about basic business principles and practices. "Many entrepreneurs are very skilled tradesman but get blindsided when they realize that most of their time will be spent managing others, generating sales, dealing with taxes and regulations and above all else, managing cash flow."
 
Do know your competition.
Make sure that you know your market well, and a good place to start is by evaluating your competition. Check to see what they're doing and not doing, and ask yourself if you've got ways to improve on their tactics. "Definitely get familiar with your competition, especially the successful competitors,” recommends Larry Collins of Novatech Wholesale. “They’re the ones to watch because they’ve obviously done something right to be successful themselves."
 
Do develop a business plan.
Creating a business plan is one of the most important steps you can take, as it serves as a road map for the early years of your business. A business plan outlines your goals and milestones, and then details the route you'll take to reach them. In addition, it can help you think through the key levers of your business to help inform better decision-making. For a sample business plan and helpful templates check out the Canadian Business Network run by the Government of Canada.
 
Do narrow your focus.
One of the early temptations that small businesses face is the tendency to go after any work that presents itself, regardless of how marginal the return it might provide.
 
Determining what projects are a good fit—and which are not—is essential to the early success of your new business. Instead of continuously trying to push round pegs through square holes, Dan from Forward Printing suggests spending your time finding solutions and improvements that fit well within your business's ecosystem. “Get better at saying no to projects that are outside of your wheelhouse."
 
ForZeke Freeman of Bee Raw, narrowing focus means devoting his energy to projects where the margins are better. "We don’t spend any more time focusing on selling more to retailers or distributors. We spend all of our time selling and marketing to our individual customers."
 
Don't get overwhelmed.
Don't get overwhelmed with all the tasks you have in mind. You've got to put your head down and focus on the daily work. "A lot of small business owners get overwhelmed with all the tasks and all the projects that they have in their minds," says Paul Goodman of Pura Vida Bracelets. "Make a task list, stuff you want to accomplish every day, then hit the ground running,"
 
Don't be afraid to fail.
"A painting cannot be a success unless it has been ruined," said Pablo Picasso. Learn to respect your mistakes, as well as your successes, as they're both equally important learning experiences. In the early days of LuminAID, Andrea Sreshta recalls, "We made a lot of mistakes and, like all businesses with original ideas, we learned along the way. It's important to take some amount of calculated risk. Even if you fail, you can do something different the next time around."
 
Do believe in yourself.
Whether you leave behind your career, and jump into your new venture with both feet, or you take a more incremental approach, you’ve got to believe in yourself and believe in your product. Plan on putting yourself into it 100%, because you’ll get out what you put in.
 
"If you believe in what you do and you make other people believe in it, you find it’s easier to get through it. We kept waiting for the economy to turn around and finally just said we’re going to give this a shot. If it works it works, if it doesn’t we’ll do something else," says Phillip Peelish of Wild Mountain Soap Company.

Chase Jones, Manager, North American Small Business

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