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Q&A: Five tips for the beginner entrepreneur (Includes interview)

However, dreaming big does not mean you have any clue about how to take your great idea to the next level. To gather some entrepreneurial tips Digital Journal talked with serial entrepreneur Scott Hirsch about what beginner entrepreneurs can do to jump-start their business.

Digital Journal: Can one idea really change a market?

Scott Hirsch: Yes, if you can pinpoint what your market needs, you can come up with an idea that can change the direction of your field. That’s what I did when I developed opt-in email in the early 90s (before email was a widely used business tool). To stand out from the rest, it is imperative that your idea be specific to your market as possible. There is no shortage of great ideas in your market – only a shortage of people brave enough to give them life. So, ask yourself: How does my idea stand out compared to what exists already and how will my industry benefit from the change it introduces?

DJ: How does identifying your weakness help you succeed?

Hirsch: Every new entrepreneur should do a “SWOT” exercise – Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities and Threats – a process used to analyze what tools you have that will lead to success and what obstacles stand in your way. For some, it is tempting to focus on only the positives – how their idea will change their industry, but failing to take in the whole picture, including what might go wrong, is a recipe for failure. While it is often difficult to honestly face your weaknesses, an audit of the full SWOT picture is necessary to prepare you for the circumstances you will inevitably face as you start your business.

DJ: How can your competition help you succeed?

Hirsch: After you’ve taken a hard look at what you have to offer, and what stands in your way, you need to study your competition. You’ll want to check out how they got started: What were their challenges? How did they overcome them? What mistakes did they make along the way? By evaluating the path of those who’ve gone before you, you will have a much better chance of choosing a smoother journey.

DJ: How can you find a good mentor?

Hirsch: While entrepreneurs are known to be self-sufficient, it is important to understand that no person is an island. It is always a good idea to talk with someone who’s been there before. Reach out to former colleagues or small business associations and ask for advice. Not only will you uncover some hidden gems, you will simultaneously build a network of contacts in your field.

DJ: What should a new entrepreneur look for in building a team?

Hirsch: When building a team, it is important to find people who are not only good at what they do, but also have a vision of their own. It is impossible to be an expert in every aspect of your business (If you are an accountant, HR manager and salesperson, great – you stand alone). The most successful entrepreneurs surrounded themselves with people who were able to bring new ideas, tools, contacts or vision to the table that they did not possess. As cliché as this may sound, you may have had the initial idea, but it truly does take a village to build a successful business.

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Dr. Tim Sandle is Digital Journal's Editor-at-Large for science news. Tim specializes in science, technology, environmental, business, and health journalism. He is additionally a practising microbiologist; and an author. He is also interested in history, politics and current affairs.

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