Starting a business from scratch is no easy feat, but it is incredibly rewarding. If you’re willing to put in the work and persevere, you’re already on the path to success.
I spoke with Adriana Collins, founder and CEO of Block Investors, a team of wealth managers who provide business funding and business opportunities as well as financial literacy to those in the underrepresented communities. She shared the advice she learned on journey of building a business from scratch.
Get a mentor.
Having a mentor can be instrumental in your business success because you’ll have a trusted advisor in providing you with advice and guidance. The key is to find a mentor who has experience in your field so that they can provide you with specific, insider advice. Collins credits her mentor for making the process of starting up a business far easier than if she had tried doing it on her own. “It was my mentor who guided me, who helped me, and who taught me the fundamentals in starting a business as well as how to set goals and calculate financial projections,” she said.
Tap advantage of free and low-cost resources that are available for new businesses.
There are a wealth of resources available to entrepreneurs online that are either free or very low cost. Organizations such as SCORE and the SBA offer education and mentoring programs, and online learning platforms such as Udemy and Coursera offer low-cost certifications and skill-specific courses. Besides those formal ways of gaining knowledge, perhaps the best free way to learn is simply by reading. “Spend a lot of time researching and reading books and articles” advises Collins. Then take action on what you’ve learned.
You have to apply the knowledge you’ve gained from your learning and research. “Taking action is necessary, and you also have to take risks,” says Collins. Too often you can get stuck in a trap of consuming knowledge but not acting on it, so while you’re taking a step in the right direction, you’re simply moving forward rather than upward. What separates a successful entrepreneur from one whose business never quite takes off is taking action and taking calculated risks.
Patience is an entrepreneur’s best friend, because no matter how much you can hope for things to happen quickly, building a business simply takes time. What you need to do first is to create a solid foundation so that your business has a base from which it can grow. “Think of it like planting an apple tree,” advises Collins. “Apple trees don’t grow or bear fruit overnight, but if you plant the seed, and then water it, nurture it, and cultivate it, it will sprout. If you continue doing those things it will start to grow bigger and stronger, and eventually if will give you fruit.”