Starting something new is scary--especially if you're counting on it generating a profit to pay the bills. Creating a business can be nerve-wracking, but it also can be rewarding, both financially and emotionally. Here are 10 tips from Next-Gen 250 entrepreneurs on how to reap more of the rewards, and less of the anxiety.
1. Have a customer base to start. Often, that means working on the side to build business while you have a full-time job. "Always tee up your customer base, or you're going to be hurting longer than you should be," said Matt Lombardi, founder of Atlantic Metro Communications, Parsippany, N.J.
2. Not all money is created equal. Your choice of capital partner needs to be just as strategic as any other decision. That can be a tough piece of advice to follow, because when a company is just starting, especially when it's in the concept stage, it's hard to turn down money. However, many entrepreneurs find themselves regretting their early partners as they grow.
"All money isn't created equally. Entrepreneurs should vet capital partners just as much as they're being vetted -- what are their connections, what doors can they open, how can they help find the people, etc.," said Aric Bandy, CEO of Agosto, Minneapolis, Minn. "Lay out expectations on how your capital partners should help you drive the business forward, and hold them to it."
[Related: Faces Of The 2012 Next-Gen 250]
3. Look for ways to get as much work as possible done with as few resources as possible. That doesn't mean being lazy; just the opposite. Starting a business means wearing many different hats for quite some time. For example, Henry Park started 3GC Group, Los Angeles, in 2004, but it wasn't until the end of 2006 that he hired a full-time, dedicated salesperson.
4. Hire carefully. Rock stars rarely pan out. As entrepreneurs reach a certain size, they need to bring in talent to get their business to the next level. "All too often, I've seen firms realize a weakness on their team--sales, marketing, operations, etc.--and solve it by hiring someone with a rock-star resume," Bandy said. "It seems like an easy solution, a silver bullet to solve an area that the entrepreneur isn't comfortable handling. I've made that mistake, and it rarely pans out."
Instead, build a team. Employees should complement one another. And, Bandy added, don't be afraid of unproven talent, a mistake large, established companies often make. Consider competence, capability and an ability to fit in with the team, and then look at the resume.
5. Lead. No one wants to work for or do business with someone who seems lost. However, not all entrepreneurs are born leaders. For those looking for guidance, Park recommends reading Dave Logan's book, "Tribal Leadership."
"I love that book, because when I got started, I needed guys with the same vision as I had, and the capability to grow that vision. Now, I look at it from a value standpoint: 'Do they have the same values as I do?' There are plenty of guys out there who are capable. But, now, on top of that, it's equally important to have the same values, for example, in terms of work ethic, family time and honesty."
NEXT: Five More Tips For Starting A Successful Business