According to Bloomberg, 8 out of 10 entrepreneurs who start businesses fail within the first 18 months.
Pretty dismal statistics, huh?
But what if you could avoid making the same mistakes that 80% of new entrepreneurs fall prey to? What if your future, wiser self could travel back in time to tell your current self what the pitfalls are, so you could avoid them?
Although time travel isn't yet possible, you can still learn from the seasoned pros. So I sought out 13 accomplished and highly successful entrepreneurs, and I asked them:
If you had a time machine to go back to when you first started your business, and you could give your former self just one piece of advice, what would it be?
The answers they gave were eye-opening...
1. Pat Flynn
Focus on--not even a business yet--but yourself, in terms of: "What are my strengths? What are my weaknesses? What are my unique advantages? What are those things that I can contribute that other people cannot?"
That's the very first thing that I would do: understand what those things are, so that whatever it is that I would do in my business, I could see if those things line up.
For more tips from Pat, check out his upcoming book, Will It Fly? How to Test Your Next Business Idea So You Don't Waste Your Time and Money.
2. Chris Ducker
Get way more active on building your personal brand, way sooner!
It's easily been the most important move of my career and the avenue for more opportunities than I can count - building a community of raving fans and customers, a book deal, keynote speaking, high-end coaching and consulting, and much more.
For more help from Chris, check out his new community, Youpreneur: The Entrepreneurial Community Where Nobody Gets Left Behind!
3. Natalie MacNeil
Just be patient, stick with it, and let it all unfold the way it's supposed to.
If I was starting my first media company and someone said, "5 years from now, this is where you're going to be financially... this is where you're going to be living... this is how your business is going to look..." I probably would have said, "Oh, but I want to be further ahead than that in 5 years!". But it was an entirely different dream that was unfolding... I ended up winning an Emmy! And that wasn't expected at all.
Also, trust your gut. If somebody tells you that you should do something one way, but you feel that you need to try it your own way, that's OK. I think you can get help and ask other people for their opinions, but at the end of the day, you need to trust yourself and you really need to stand in your own truth.
For more help from Natalie, check out The Conquer Club: An implementation incubator & community for women entrepreneurs.
4. Bryan Harris
Stop trying to find customers for your products and start finding products for your customers.
For my entire life I would think up "cool business ideas" and then go make them, only to find out no one wanted them (or I just wasn't the right person to sell it). My primary discovery since starting Videofruit has been that the more sustainable and repeatable way to start a business is to first build a list of 1,000 people who trust you on one topic. Then create the product that they demand you make.
It sounds weird. It sounds hard. But it's a really straightforward process. It only took me 20 years of falling around to find the framework to do that.
For more tips from Bryan on launching a successful product, check out his free Product Builder's Toolkit.
5. Jon Morrow
There are a few things I wish I could have avoided... One of the biggest ones would probably be, in the products that we created, not to do things as much that don't scale.
In the beginning of our business, I would spend a ton of time helping students. I'd even get on the phone with students. I went above and beyond for everyone that I could find. The positive side effect of that is that we had tons of customers who were just head-over-heels in love with everything we did. The negative side effect is that, because I was giving so much individual attention, I was limited to the number of students I could have at the time.
But here's the thing: everyone starting out should ignore that advice. If you're a beginner right now, you should be doing things like coaching and helping customers one on one. Not because that's what's the most profitable, but because that's where you learn. You get to know your customers, and that gives you an enormous advantage when you start creating products.
To learn how to get your products in front of more people, check out Jon's Guest Blogging course.
6. David Siteman Garland
Focus much more on building your email list...to an obsessive degree.
In this business, your lifeblood is your email list and your relationship with the folks on it. So, that's definitely what I would have done.
To learn how to create online courses for the people on your email list, check out David's course, Create Awesome Online Courses.
7. Tara Gentile
Get comfortable spending more money.
It took me a while to realize that my business would earn a lot more money if I was willing to spend some more. I could have hired more help earlier and invested in better platforms sooner.
Now that I know and apply this, revenue growth has skyrocketed. Spending money to make money may sound cliche, but in the "solo entrepreneurship" conversation it's almost a point of pride to say how little money you spend running your business. I'm glad to have left those days behind.
For more business-building tips from Tara, check out her Creative Live workshops.
8. Jeff Goins
Build an email list sooner.
Email is king. It's the best way to build an engaged audience, sell a product online, or create hype around your next big event or service project. Without it, you will really struggle to get the kind of traction your message deserves.
For tips from Jeff on building an email list, check out his free guide for getting 100,000 subscribers in 18 months.
9. Rick Mulready
Work with a coach/mentor as soon as possible.
It would have saved me at least a year and a half of fumbling along, not really knowing what I was doing. Find someone you look up to and is doing or already done what you want to do and find a way, any way, to work with them.
For tips from Rick on growing your business with advertising, check out his podcast, The Art of Paid Traffic.
10. Kimra Luna
My answer is: Nothing. I believe everything happened exactly how it was meant to.
My business grew very quickly compared to most businesses, but slow enough that I was able to take it one day at a time. I keep following my intuition as I go along.
To learn how Kimra used webinars to build a million dollar business, check out her mini course, Rock It With Webinars.
11. Amy Schmittauer
Build your own personal board of directors.
We always hear the advice that you should get a mentor. But I actually believe that the more smart people you have around you the better. One person can be amazingly insightful, but a few with their own individual specialities is incredible.
To get more smart people around you like Amy, check out her new community, Social Authority.
12. James Wedmore
Build your email list: Do webinars. Make videos. Repeat.
List building needs to become a #1 priority in your business. More incoming leads (daily opt-ins to your email list) means more influence, more reach and more customers.
To learn how James uses video to build his email list, check out his post, How I Build My List with Video (5 Ways).
13. Erin Stutland
Building a solid business takes time, and over time, the message and true purpose of your business becomes clear.
This happens through doing, and then receiving feedback from customers. You begin to tailor your offerings to what is needed by your community and discover what you really love sharing. No matter how you slice it, this takes time.
So don't worry if you don't have all the answers today. Answers come if you keep doing.
To discover how to hustle less and get more of what you want in your business, check out Erin's Magical Manifesters.