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Ranking the 20 best tips for starting a business in 2017

I’m guessing you landed on this page because you’ve been scheming up ideas for starting a business.

You’re on the right track in life.

Since I’ve built a couple 6-figure businesses in my day, I figured I could drop some intel for y’all.

There’s no better feeling than quitting your day job and building something that’s 100% for you. Coming up with business ideas for your business is the easy part.

The hard part is deciding which ideas are worthwhile, and then actually acting on them.

Although I’m a bit biased towards digital businesses, these tips will work for any type of business.

Let’s go.

20. Elect your LLC as an S-corp

When you file your taxes, you can elect to be taxed as an s-corporation instead of an LLC.

They’re pretty similar, but an s-corp filing looks at you (the owner) as an employee of your business rather than a partner and pays you a salary.

All you need to know is that you’ll pay less taxes that way. [1]

19. Solve a pain point

If your business idea does one thing, make sure that it fills a market need.

How do you know if your idea does solve a pain-point in society?

Test it. Spend $100 on Facebook ads and target your product to your audience.

According to Fortune Magazine, 42% of failed start-ups said that a lack of market need for their product was the reason they failed. [2]

18. Outsource

You should outsource two different kinds of work:

1) Low-value, time-consuming work

2) Work you’re not good at

Websites like Fiverr, PeoplePerHour, and Upwork are good for outsourcing one-time jobs you don’t want to do at a low cost.

17. Start a low-cost business

The second reason start-ups fail? Lack of sufficient capital. Nearly 30% of failed start-ups have cited this as the reason their business went south. [3]

Starting a business with a low budget, or even no budget, is possible, especially nowadays with the internet.

16. Bootstrap

Bootstrapping is the way of the future. Plenty of today’s biggest companies started out bootstrapping, or completely funding themselves rather than accepting outside funding and venture capital at early stages.

This gives you full control over your business, teaches you to be scrappy in times of hardship, and according to the Harvard Business Review, bootstrapped companies actually attract better talent.

Dell, Facebook, Apple, Coca Cola, eBay, Microsoft, and plenty more were all bootstrapped. [4]

15. Learn digital skillsets

I know I’ve said I’m digitally-biased, but this is important for all businesses nowadays. It doesn’t matter what kind of business you’re starting: the internet is how you spread the word.

According to Forbes, these are the 7 most important digital marketing skills right now: analytics, SEO, HTML, WordPress, video, basic design skills, and SQL. [5]

Remember, you can outsource these…and if you want to take it all on yourself, there are plenty of trainings and software programs out there to help you out.

Learn the basics so you have the digital literacy to build you business.

14. Create multiple streams

I’m a big believer in diversifying and multiplying your income streams.

As a business owner or self-employed entrepreneur, not creating multiple income streams and sales channels is akin to an investor investing all their money in one company. Start with one but then branch out from there — this will help you grow, and it’s the only way to achieve a sense of stability.

13. Learn to pivot

If something isn’t working, don’t keep beating a dead horse. Try something new instead.

Starting a new business is all about experimenting, and if something isn’t working for you, just drop it and move on.

In the beginning, Dropbox, now a $1 billion tech company, tried again and again to explain their product to people via text, but no one was buying in. So, they decided to switch it up and make a funny video, almost as a joke, to describe their product instead.

What happened?

They went from 5,000 wait list sign ups to 75,000…overnight. [6]

12. Start with a minimum viable product

Don’t delay your launch. All you need to get started is a MVP (minimum viable product).

Once you’ve got that out on the market, you can tweak and improve until you’re raking in the cash.

Groupon started out as a group of friends and entrepreneurs who wanted to score discounts by buying things as a group. They made an app that allowed them to coordinate a group of 20 people (yep, just 20) who all wanted to buy the same thing, and then struck a deal with a local business. After realizing the power of group buying, Groupon was born. [7]

11. Start your business in Wyoming

You want to start up in a place that has a history of entrepreneurial success and a large pool of talented employees, but also (and more importantly), a good business tax climate and low costs.

Wyoming hits a home run on all these fronts, especially tax climate: they don’t have a corporate income tax, individual income tax, or gross receipts tax. They also have one of the lowest sales tax rates in the country. [8]

You can also consider Delaware or Puerto Rico (6% flat tax!) if your business is digital and you’re feeling alpha.

10. Don’t be afraid to experiment

Entrepreneurship = experimentation. Drill that into your head.

There’s a really good chance that your original idea to what you’re trying to do will evolve into something completely different, and that’s ok.

In fact, economists from the Harvard Business School published a study asserting that experimentation is not just key to, but in fact IS, entrepreneurship. [9]

9. Scout your competition

Know what they’re selling and for how much.

Know their conversion rates and their traffic analytics (Ahrefs, Alexa).

Read what people are saying about them. Read the reviews. Study their social media interactions.

What PPC keywords are they bidding on? (Spyfu)

What are they blogging about? If their SEO game is strong, how are they getting their links? (Ahrefs, Majestic)

8. Find a mentor

Get yourself a mentor. Forget originality — there’s nothing wrong with a copycat if they’re living a life you admire.

Do some googling, and find yourself an influencer in your industry. LinkedIn is a great place to do this if your niche is technical or business related, or if you’re more into something creative or visual do some searching on Instagram. Find their blog. Follow them on Twitter.

Read everything they put out, but more importantly, seek ways to serve them and expect nothing in return.

7. Build your network

“Your network is your net worth.” #truth

In the book Neighbor Networks by Ronald Burt, it’s shown that networking with a bunch of different people can boost your cognitive abilities and emotional intelligence.

Thanks to the internet, networks are everywhere.

Facebook groups, sub-Reddits, and LinkedIn are probably the best places to start.

6. Use crowdfunding

82% of businesses fail to bring in enough cash to sustain themselves. Basically, there’s a good chance you’ll run out of money and flop early on. [10]

It’s not that hard to get funding for your business nowadays if you know a thing or two about PR and digital marketing.

Enter: crowdfunding. Websites like Kickstarter and GoFundMe have made it super easy to raise money for your idea, and you can still call yourself self-funded this way because it doesn’t count as venture capital.

5. Track everything

Remember how I said experimentation is at the core of entrepreneurship?

Well, experiments are about more than just trying a bunch of new stuff. You also have to track the success and failure of each thing you try in order to know what works and what doesn’t.

Test your ideas. Run polls, do A/B testing, track when something is doing well and figure out why. Then scale it.

4. Start a blog

Why do I have this blog?

I could just do my own thing, bring in my money and end it there. So why do I go through the trouble of spending 20+ hours on posts like this?

Because I think it’s important as an entrepreneur and business owner to share the knowledge and expertise you gain along the way.

Starting a blog that helps others offers them value, which is one of the best ways to get people to trust you and come back for more. It builds your cred and reputation, and it’s one of the best marketing tools out there.

3. Learn SEO

Imagine a successful business without Google involved.

It’s hard. Without traffic, (which is mostly Google, Facebook or YouTube) you’ve got nothing.

Lack of SEO is a big reason why businesses fail.

What really is search engine optimization??

1) Build out baller, organized content going after keywords….like this post… “how to start a business”, which gets searched 39,000 times per month

2) Get other people to mention or link to your articles

Thats 80% of SEO. Congrats.

2. Build time wealth

There’s a lot of talk nowadays about following your passions, finding your dream job, and turning what you love into a career.

Why not just make a ton of money and build a business that allows you to have time wealth?

Once you have an online business making $10,000 per month, you’ve built a lifestyle that allows you to follow your passions.

1. Help local businesses

Here’s the thing: there’s no more predictable path to building a profitable business than focusing on local services.

Competition isn’t there.

Instead of trying to start your own local business – which would require inventory, start-up capital, a storefront – you can help these businesses by providing them with leads to build their business.

Local lead generation provides more value to local businesses than just about anything else.

What business will tell you, “No thanks, we’re good, not interested in more leads..”

1) Build out websites that go after local niches, like pest control in a big city or a personal injury lawyer

2) Collect leads through email opt-ins or a phone number that you rent so you can listen to the calls

3) Collect money either through a pay-per-lead model or pay-per-sale, depending on what you negotiate with the business owner

Leads are the superpower of the Internet. Few people understand this.

Recap

There’s really been no better time to start a business.

There are some key takeaways when it comes to starting your own business that I want you to remember from this article:

1. Do something digital

Why? Low start-up costs and quick feedback loops, which validates your idea without spending more than $500.

Freedom to work from wherever you want, whenever you want.

2. Do something that can be automated

There’s no sweeter feeling than going to bed at night knowing that the paychecks you’re making will keep rolling in, even in your sleep.

Time is your most precious resource. Figure out which of your business ideas you can automate, and go with those.

3. Do something local

You may have dreams of going global, but start local first. Narrowing your focus and targeting a specific area will give you a huge competitive advantage.

4. Do something scaleable

Being able to reel in passive income is sweet, but it’s a little underwhelming when you’re reeling in $2.03 a month from your Amazon affiliate account.

It’s gotta scale.

Whatever you do, the most important advice of all is this: start your business.

Start something, because more than likely, your business will evolve anyway.

Stop sitting around scrolling through articles.

I wasn’t shy about my #1 recommendation (local lead generation) because I’ve seen it work for many, many people. You can learn more about that here.

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