So youâ€™ve decided that 2011 is the year, the official â€œFoundedâ€ date of your brand new business and the beginning of your journey to success as an entrepreneur. You may still be holding down a job while working on a business planor evenrunning your enterprise part time, in anticipation of making your business a full-time endeavor this year. Or you may have spent 2010 laying the ground work to literally launch on January 3, the first business day of the New Year. In any case, here are six New Yearâ€™s resolutions you need to commit to if you want to excel as an entrepreneur in 2011 and beyond.–Alfred Edmond Jr.
1. Stay in school. Know that what your current level of educational attainment, how many degrees you have, or your education in entrepreneurship is just beginning. In fact, business ownership could be described as the ultimate continuing education. To master entrepreneurship, you must literally become a student of it. Actively seek out entrepreneurship classesâ€”offered at local universities, by local community organizations or even onlineâ€”that can teach you about everything from finance to marketing to social media. A great place to start: Black Enterprise Small Business University. These online video courses are free; all you have to do is register.
3. Know your value propositionâ€”and stick to it. As a new entrepreneur, you will be tested by people who wonâ€™t take you seriously at first. Some will point to your lack of experience as a business owner. Othersâ€”particularly family and friends â€“wonâ€™t take you seriously: â€œYouâ€™re not really going to charge me, are you?â€ Itâ€™s your job to know what your goods and services are worth, what your competition is charging and how much money you have to make on each unit sold to earn a profit. Once youâ€™ve locked in on that information, set your prices accordingly and stick to them. Whatever you do, donâ€™t allow guilt or lack of confidence to cause you to offer â€œhook-upsâ€ without a clear rationale for how they will drive sales. Offering a voucher for one free meal after a customer has purchased 10 meals from your restaurant makes sense because it provides an incentive for people to pay to eat at your establishment more often. Hooking people up with free meals in hopes that it will inspire customer loyalty does not.
5. Choose a social media strategyâ€”and work it daily. Not being on Twitter and Facebook is no longer an option for serious entrepreneurs. A social media presence is no substitute for a real marketing strategy for your business. On the other hand, in 2011, no marketing strategy is complete without an on-purpose, faithfully executed social media strategy. You and your business donâ€™t need a presence on every social media platform out there, but you need to have a 2011 plan for at least two or three of thefive most important social media sites. Itâ€™s not enough to just set up profiles and accounts on these sites. You must make time each dayâ€”beginning January 3â€”to actively engage and pay attention to those in your networks. And if you have zero social media engagement, the time to start is now.