Experienced entrepreneurs have a massive advantage over their inexperienced counterparts. They’ve learned hard lessons from failures, they’ve been in positions of leadership, and they’ve had time to build and expand a professional network. Accordingly, it’s no surprise that first-time entrepreneurs are more likely to experience startup failure than serial entrepreneurs who have started multiple businesses in the past.
Still, everyone has to start somewhere, and there are plenty of anecdotal examples of entrepreneurs who found success their first time in the role. So what steps can you take to gain an advantage as an entrepreneur with no experience?
Get Your Finances in Order
First, make sure you get your finances in order. New entrepreneurs typically don’t have millions of dollars to self-fund their business, and may not have the financial management habits in place to ensure their business doesn’t run out of cash. Before you start a business, you should take measures to improve your financial wellness, including improving your credit score, building up a pool of emergency savings, and developing good budgeting habits.
There are options for entrepreneurs with poor finances, however. You could seek funding from an angel investor or venture capitalist, or if you have a bad credit score, you could use a loan provider like CreditLoan.com.
Recruit the Right Partners and Employees
As an inexperienced entrepreneur, you’re going to have several weaknesses. This is perfectly fine, as long as you acknowledge that those weaknesses exist, and work to compensate for them. For example, if you’ve never been in a business leadership role before, make sure you find a partner who has significant business leadership experience, who can help you make high-level decisions when the time counts.
If you’re not good with managing finances and you’re concerned about your company’s budget, make sure to hire a CFO or financial authority to oversee your financial matters. The right team can make all the difference, so be willing to spend a bit more time than usual finding these critical team members, and a bit more money making sure you have experienced candidates in the right areas.
Find (and Listen to) a Mentor
Finding and listening to a mentor is good advice for any entrepreneur. No matter how much knowledge, creativity, or experience you bring to the table, there will always be someone more knowledgeable and experienced than you. Talk to a mentor about your idea, about the problems you’re facing, and about the major decisions in your near future. They’ll be able to illuminate you with new perspective and advice, and may have resources or contacts that could help you out.
The big problem most entrepreneurs face in this area is finding a mentor in the first place. You could use traditional networking strategies to build your professional network, or you could use a site like MicroMentor.com to get advice from many different experienced professionals.
Expand Your Professional Network
You can find partners, employees, and mentors through professional networking, but even if you already have people in these roles, it’s a good idea to keep networking. Networking is going to expose you to a diversity of professionals in different backgrounds, including fellow entrepreneurs you can learn from and prospective new clients. When you run into a problem, or when you need something your organization doesn’t have, your network is where you’re going to turn, so the stronger it is, the better.
Read and Research Constantly
You can gain experience as an entrepreneur secondhand by reading as much as you can. Read articles about entrepreneurship, read memoirs and listen to talks by existing and former entrepreneurs, and read information on your industry, your target market, or basic productivity habits. The more you read, the more informed and better-rounded you’ll become, ultimately compensating for any inexperienced-based weaknesses you had in the past. If you don’t have time to read, consider a substitute like listening to podcasts and audiobooks.
As an inexperienced entrepreneur, you aren’t going to have all the answers. If you’re stubborn in your convictions and you commit to every decision you make, eventually it’s going to harm your chances of success. Instead, assume that there’s always a chance that your decision is the wrong one, or that you’re making a critical mistake. It’s going to make you more aware of your surroundings, more open to feedback and criticism, and generally more adaptable—which you’ll need if you want to be successful.
Inexperience doesn’t have to sabotage your entrepreneurial dreams. In fact, sometimes, inexperience can be a good thing—it means you’re going to think outside of the box, avoid conventional mistakes, and you might be even hungrier for success. The trick is to proactively acknowledge your inexperience, and use strategies to compensate for it.