Zach Cutler is a recent graduate of The George Washington University and is the founder and CEO of The Cutler Group
Did you just graduate and can’t find work? That’s probably because unemployment for recent grads is at a 40 year high. Only one out of four 2010 graduates who applied for a job had one waiting upon graduation! Sadly, the numbers aren’t improving any time soon. So it’s time to help yourself and help the economy by starting your own business.
After graduating from GW in 2009, I had no good job prospects. I lived off my savings for three months, until there was nothing left. But instead of moving home with my parents, I decided to build a business: The Cutler Group (cutlergrp.com). Here are eight tips to help you get started on your own venture today:
1. Build your business around a passion. Whether you’re into education, health, or travel, make sure you’re passionate and knowledgeable about your industry and your products. When the hours get long, cash flow gets tight, and stress becomes high, only passion for your work will keep you going.
2. Create a one-year vision with specific goals. While there is no need for a 30 page formal business plan, create two or three major benchmarks — such as revenue or number of clients — fixed to specific calendar dates. By clearly articulating your vision, the odds of it coming true are much higher.
3. Focus your product/service. By perfecting a product in a specific niche, you will quickly gain a reputation and strong customer base. Use your degree major and your interests as a foundation from which to build. Remember, if you try to reach everyone in the beginning, you will reach no one.
4. Seek advice. It’s truly amazing how much free advice you can get. Talk to friends, family, professors and other business owners about your ideas and strategies. There are also small business counselors at the SBA who can advise you for free on everything from business planning to getting a loan.
5. Invest in your product, not in ads. Buying ads won’t necessarily bring you customers. The best way to get clients is to have a remarkable and consistent product, and if you do, word-of-mouth will kick in fast. Trust me.
6. Hire only phenomenal talent. Your business can perform only as well as your employees. And treat them well – they are your most important stakeholders.
7. Persist! Owning your own venture can be challenging, but once you get through the hurdles, the satisfaction and reward is incredible. So remember, never give up!
8. The best way to do well is to do good. Reciprocate your success and give back to the community and environment which has given to you.