Manage your business finances with Wave—it's free.

Send invoices, get paid, track expenses, pay your team, and balance your books with our free financial management software.

Get started

9 tips by entrepreneurs on starting a business

Oct 28, 2019 | 6 minutes read | Entrepreneurship

Hindsight being 20/20 is especially true for business owners. No matter how successful your business may have become, it is likely there’s something you wish you’d done differently at the very start.

What may seem obvious years later may not be so obvious in the initial steps of launching your business, which is why it is so imperative to listen to as much advice as possible from people who have been in the same position as you.

To help get your business started on the right foot, we asked 9 business owners to weigh in on the question: What’s the number one tip you would give to a new business owner for growing their business?

1) Sam Kawtharani - Co-founder and CEO, Corl

Sam co-founded Corl in 2016, which aims to assist small businesses and start-ups in their journeys of raising capital.

Data is King!

"The key to healthy and long-term sustainability is the data you collect from different sources, mostly from your customers and prospects. While investing time and money to improve the efficiencies of your operations ahead of growth, you should also invest in data-driven marketing or what I would call smart marketing. Paying attention to the data will help you address major issues, such as the causes of customer churn, decrease in customer life-time value or problems in your sales funnel that is impacting conversion.”

2) Stephanie Echeveste - Co-founder, Distill Creative 

Distill Creative seeks to create one-of-a-kind artistic workshops and experiences to help people find their creative side. Stephanie, who is also a Wave user, founded Distill with her sister Valerie in 2015. 

"The number one tip I'd give a new business owner for growing their business is to make sure you give yourself time to learn! There is no one-stop shop, blog, or manual that will tell you everything you'll need to know, so be prepared for a life of constant learning. If this sounds awful to you, you may want to reconsider having your own business”

3) Danish Yusuf, ZenInsurance - Co-founder and CEO, Zensurance 

Zensurance, which was co-founded by Danish Yusuf, aims to reinvent the buying and managing of business insurance by making it a 100% online, self-serving effort.

Slow down to speed up

“A big learning for us was learning that building new technology rapidly is not necessarily the best way to scale. As a tech startup, it is always tempting to try to quickly build a new feature to automate something that speeds up a process. It is very easy to just throw out another feature request!

We found that using tools like Zapier and IFTTT, coupled with good old fashion manual work, allowed us to quickly test the value of the "automation" without writing a single line of code. If we ultimately thought it would be useful, we could a more robust version. Half the time we learned a tonne about the process and ultimately the feature we built was quite different than initially imagined.

I would definitely suggest slowing down the rush to just write more code, and make it a practice to grind things out manually for a bit first: the end result could be far better!”

4) Ryan Watkins - Head of Growth, Lending Loop 

Ryan has played an integral role in the success of Lending Loop, which focuses on providing a fully regulated peer-to-peer lending service.

Build a product or service your customers want

"This statement has been echoed by many in the technology sector including Paul Graham (Co-Founder, Y Combinator), but it really does hold a lot of value. Regardless of what your business does, you need to ensure your service or product provides a solution to a real pain point in your customers’ life. This may come across as a truism but is easily overlooked in the early stages of building your business - especially when you have multiple things on the go at any given moment. 

Ultimately, growing your business and maintaining a leading position in your industry comes down to achieving one (or all) of these three things: best price, best product, and best solution. Each component requires you to focus your efforts on different areas of your business, but the last point is the easiest to start with as it just requires you to know your customers and their needs well. So get out there, start actively talking to your clients or users, deeply understand their pain points, and continue building solutions to solve them; what you'll develop is a business your customers can't do without."

5) Robert Bond - Owner, Rocket Science Designs

Rocket Science Designs is a graphic design company based out of British Columbia. Robert founded Rocket Science Designs in 1979 and hopes to serve as visual storytellers for his clients.

“Number one piece of advice: put in the extra effort to make sure the customer feels heard, and produce work that does the same. You're there to make their lives easier...

2nd piece of advice: know when it's time to work on the business instead of in it. Don't put short term savings ahead of long term growth.”

6) Jen House - Owner, First Step Nutrition 

Jen has 15+ years of experience as a dietician and has used her knowledge to help parents in their struggle to properly feed their families. She works one-on-one with her clients to figure out a proper diet plan to stay healthy.

"As a dietitian, I had no previous business training from school when starting my private practice 11 years ago. What I have found most useful in my business is hiring mentors or coaches to help guide the direction and messaging for my business. I wish I had invested in this from day 1, as it would’ve saved a lot of guess-work, time and money!"

7) Robert Mislan - President, Versatile Grass Inc. 

Robert founded Versatile Grass Inc. after a personal struggle along with his wife to grow grass in his backyard. A Wave user as well, Robert has supplied customers with ulterior grass growing methods all across Canada.

My answer is simple: ENTHUSIASM.

"You are in business to champion your own products and services. If one can't communicate enthusiasm to a client or consumer then I suggest today's consumers are very adept at recognizing indifference. And indifference will rapidly take down all businesses. If discretionary purchase dollars are to spent with strangers then I say consumers will always gravitate to spend with the stranger that is trying the hardest! There is no shame being enthusiastic and trying the hardest. Differentiate yourself from others, deliver more than the consumer may be expecting. Enthusiasm is contagious. 

I have one very simple rule that governs my wonderful 35 years of self employment: give every business inquiry the best you have to give. Leave nothing 'on-the-table'. You won't win every job but you will never doubt that you tried your best. You will never regret any loss if you are at peace that you gave your best. If one can't do this or complacency slips in, well, that is a strong sign that perhaps small business ownership or an entrepreneurial livelihood is not in your DNA.... that is never to shame or belittle anyone or their dreams, rather every personality will find their happiness and personal comfort and success. I have a profound admiration for all entrepreneurs and small business folks. To have tried and succeeded or failed is better than the regret of never having tried at all."

8) Audrey Kwan - Owner, AJK Consulting 

AJK Consulting helps marketers and creative entrepreneurs get out of day-to-day operations by scaling their business with systems, processes and team development so that business owners can focus on visionary leadership.

Turn Your To-Do Lists Into To-Delegate Lists

“This is a big one. You must begin to believe that your self-worth isn’t defined by how “hands on” you are. How many items on your to-do list should actually be turned over to others?

Transitioning from being a doer to a delegator is closely tied to nurturing other people's capabilities. If you never allow others to shine, they won’t grow. Your identity as “the only one who can get it done” then becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy.

When you delegate, do so in a way that sets your team up for success. Don’t just communicate your goals and expectations, and stop there. Your team is most efficient when they have a clear process to follow and a platform for accountability.

Always link tasks with opportunities for personally meaningful growth. For example, if you know that your employee has soft skills that make her an excellent candidate for account management, give her the opportunity to take the lead with a client. Start small by giving her the opportunity to communicate project ideas. It will save you work and position her for long-term success. That’s a win-win.”

9) Andrew Graham - CEO and Co-founder, Borrowell 

Borrowell is a 100% Canadian company co-founded by Andrew which strives to help Canadians in making great decisions about credit. Borrowell is the first company in Canada to offer free credit scores to its users.

Pick a great business partner.

"Building a company can be challenging and lonely. Having the right person alongside you--someone whom you trust, who shares your vision and who will be there for the celebrations and setbacks--will increase your odds of success and make the entrepreneurial journey that much more rewarding."

----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Using these 9 tips from seasoned business owners can help any business in its starting days. The wide range of business types and industries you see means this advice can support healthy growth, regardless what industry or product you’re building.

Do you have your own tips for starting a new business? Share your insights in a comment on our social to help our community grow better together!!

Instagram: @Wave_HQ

Twitter: @WaveHQ

Facebook: Wave HQ

Award-winning financial software designed for entrepreneurs

Read next