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My name is Alexander Rauser, and I’m the founder and CEO of Prototype, a digital strategy and transformation agency. Knowing how to start your own business can be a scary prospect, right? I know how you feel. It was the same for me back when I started out. I spotted an opportunity and went for it. There are risks and pitfalls along the way for any entrepreneur, especially digital start-ups. The trick to avoiding many of them is getting advice from people who’ve been there and done that. Of course, there weren’t many of those around in digital when I started! Here are some pointers from me to you.

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CEO shares top tips for starting a business

Solve a problem and provide value

Many businesses these days start their journey with little more than a superficial idea. But the market is so saturated these days that not having a clear purpose is a recipe for failure. You should aim to solve a real problem that people have or identify a much better way for people to do things than they have historically done before. That is often a good place to start. Be strategic and find a competitive advantage. Then you will spot the opportunities that are available.

A great way to do that is to use the information available at your fingertips to learn as much as you can about the industry and become an expert. Ideally, look for a mentor who can guide you and answer your questions.

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Don’t wait until everything is perfect

Yes, ideas and goals are important and obviously you must have a plan. But where do you really begin? First, let's clear one thing up, waiting until everything is perfect is not an option. LIfe isn’t like that and neither is business. Startups can get caught up trying to make everything perfect so they delay and delay. But there is never going to be a perfect launch. Learn to use lean processes and remember that you and your idea are on a learning curve.

Start by identifying what your overall company mission is, and build smaller, achievable tasks that serve as stepping stones to reaching that mission. You can soft launch and start out by testing versions of your product or services. The data you get back will be invaluable in your success.

Do Anything and Everything

At the beginning of my career no meeting, no speaking engagement, or coffee was too little. If you want to develop leads, you have to take every business opportunity and not shy away. I have had hundreds of partnerships and marketing initiatives, even going as far as writing a book. But my company’s success has been an aggregate of all of it.

Stay Alert

You need to know exactly where you stand in business at all times. So measure everything, because everything that is measured and watched improves. However, be wary of falling into a spider web of data. People often become overwhelmed with a deluge of data because they are looking at 200 variables. Work out what your main KPI's (key performance indicators) are and act accordingly.

Go the extra mile

You’ve heard that it’s the little things in life that make a difference. It is so true. I can’t emphasise this enough. Your business is nothing without your customers. You know that, but sometimes it is easy to forget, so go the extra mile.

You may ask what the extra mile is? In the business field, there are many examples like adding a discount, an extra feature, some useful research or exceptional customer service. You could give them something for free or just do a little bit more than the expected. Adding this extra element will undoubtedly catch the attention of your clients while giving them the warm fuzzies when they think about you.

You may not be convinced yet. But going the extra mile isn’t just about that one sale. It’s about standing out from the competition for the right reasons. You’re more likely to get customers coming back and recommending you to others if your service is exceptional. That’s more sales and organic growth because of your dedication. You really have nothing to lose with this strategy and everything to gain.

Bring people up with you

At the end of the day, good business is really all about people. The ones you want to buy from you and the ones you work with. So my final piece of advice isn’t about sales or your marketing funnel or even your product, it’s about you and how you treat the people around you.

I don’t know a single successful entrepreneur who got there by doing everything him- or herself. It’s about leaning on mentors, developing your contacts, and building a team of awesome talented people on the way. The business owner I see who go on to do really well and become business leaders are those who bring others up with them. They treat their employees and freelancers as well as their clients by giving them the room they need to do their jobs and wishing them success if their paths go different ways. When they cross again, opportunities are there because it’s good business to do business with people you trust and respect. This has been true for me with my clients and with my team. So my final thought is one of those clichés that are clichés because they are true - do as you would be done by.

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