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Business - 6 min read

We see it all too often. Entrepreneurs have promising ideas, category knowledge and tried-and-true experience, but they freeze up and lose momentum when it’s time to make decisions. What’s the problem?


Fear of the unknown can stop entrepreneurs in their tracks, especially for first-timers. From financial risk to letting down stake-holders, the potential losses can seem larger than potential gains.


In our work with many different business owners, we see the signs of fear encroaching on future success. Fortunately, we also know the remedies. One of the best antidotes to fear of the unknown is the creation of a fact-driven business plan. Other strategies include fine-tuning your internal costs and working with outside experts.


In this article, we’ll look at some of the business strategies you can use to defeat the fear.


Start with Estimates and Refine as You Go

First-time entrepreneurs tend to treat business plans as if they’re etched in stone, and this can be dangerous. First off, you may not have completely accurate information at the beginning, so you need to give yourself wiggle room to refine your “living document” as you go along.


You may even need to change underlying assumptions of your plan as you work through details and gather data. Not only is this approach acceptable, but it helps you to achieve the balance necessary for any stable company. Business owners have to learn to balance their gut instincts with fact-based recommendations. Plans will change as you go along. Embrace those changes as opportunities, not as failures.


Gather Customer Feedback from the Start

Entrepreneurs usually start companies because of a perceived need for a product or service in the market. You may be correct about the demand, but you’ll reduce your fear of the unknown by gathering more information.


Talk with potential customers about products, price points, and customer service. This feedback will help you to refine your business plan further and take some of the guesswork out of the plan’s key elements.


You might consider creating some sample marketing materials and then presenting them to shop owners, online customers, or other companies that purchase supplies. Instead of relying exclusively on spreadsheets and numbers, you’ll now have helpful feedback from real customers, and your plan will be further grounded in reality.


Fine-tune Your Internal Costs

A carefully constructed business plan should be able to estimate internal costs. You’ll need to include not just material costs, but all business costs that affect your bottom line. If you have a hard time anticipating all of these costs, consult with your business adviser.


First-time entrepreneurs often find themselves working with internal costs and sales estimates to try to sort out the benefits of scaling up according to different scenarios. When you have highly accurate internal cost estimates, it’s much easier to make these decisions. Your reliable information reduces risk and gives you a clearer picture of how your company will handle different methods of scaling.


With finely-tuned financial information, you can create business forecasts that steer your strategy and assist with maintaining healthy cash flow.


Set and Maintain Goals

Business planning isn’t just a hurdle to jump over on your way to becoming a successful business owner. It’s a tool that helps you set and maintain goals. Effective entrepreneurs embrace goal setting throughout their careers. Goals help dispel the fear of the unknown. Once you achieve a goal, your confidence grows, and you start to see the unknown as a puzzle to figure out instead of a menace that might take you down.


Get together with your business consultant to formulate goals, next steps, and ways to measure progress. Be diligent about keeping track of your goals and analysing the data along the way. Remembering that your business plan is a living document, fine-tune your strategies and numbers along the way, so you’re always moving closer to your long-term goals.


Bring on an Expert

It’s helpful and comforting to walk an unfamiliar path with someone who knows it well. First-time entrepreneurs can significantly reduce their anxiety by working with business experts who know the ins and outs of starting a running a company.


From taxation and regulatory issues to cash flow forecasting  and business strategy, we can answer questions, offer suggestions and point out potential hazards on the path. To set up a consultation with one of our business experts, reach out to us at Altus.


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