My Advice for First-Time Entrepreneurs

Gary Vaynerchuk
May 4, 2016 · 4 min read

I’ve said it time and time again: Entrepreneurship is hard and it’s not for everyone. If, after taking a realistic personal inventory of who you are and what you want to be doing, it turns out that you are ready to take the next steps in starting a business, I want to discuss the advice I always give to first-time entrepreneurs.

1. Be Practical About Your Money

Cash is oxygen. How much money do you have to stay afloat and for how long? Do you have one year’s worth of rent and overhead? First-time entrepreneurs always make this mistake and it’s my biggest concern for them. You have to make sure your actions can respond to the bleeding of cash that occurs before you even turn a profit.

I often see first-time entrepreneurs making one of two mistakes at the start:

(1) They do not have a funded business and haven’t raised venture capital (or any other capital). They only have six months worth of money to make their business goal come true. While they dream up every perfect scenario that will allow them to achieve their dream, by the third day of being “entrepreneurs,” the realization hits that nothing goes perfectly and they run out of cash.

(2) They are so well funded that they don’t build up the necessary muscle to generate revenue. They are so used to the idea that losing $150,000 in burn rate is “fine” because they have a funded company. Most of their attention and behavior is focused on raising their next round instead of building an actual, profitable business.

No matter the situation, starting a new business, particularly one that requires an upfront financial investment and not just your time, drains money. You need to understand financially what it takes in order to pay for necessities like rent, supplies, and inventory (and that doesn’t even include your personal expenses). A high level of practicality is necessary for success.

2. Realize That Building a Business is a Huge Time Commitment

Also, I was trying to be very kind in the first year because I know we live in a politically correct world where leisure, “me” time, and family time are so important to so many. However, if you have this ambition of building a business, you have to make this mental commitment. Then any time you have for family or leisure time is an added bonus. In fact, you have to ask yourself how big of a business you are actually trying to build. The bigger the business, the more years you’ll need to tack onto year one.

3. Hold Yourself to Your Word

If you make a commitment, no matter what happens, you have to deliver. Not only is your business’s brand at stake, but your personal brand and reputation too. Poor business decisions could put your status as an entrepreneur at risk.

While the sources vary, it’s often stated that most businesses will fail within the first 18 months. The number one reason why I think so many businesses fail so quickly is because they don’t realize how hard it is, how “all in” you have to be, and how much talent it takes to be a successful entrepreneur. I’m not promising that following this advice will guarantee your business will survive the first year, but without these considerations, you are not setting yourself up for success.

PS: This may just be words for you on a screen right now, but I beg you to read this very carefully. Read it and make sure it sinks in. We are absolutely living through the greatest generation of fake entrepreneurship that we’ve seen in a long time. Unfortunately, many people will be hurt both financially and emotionally because of this era. I implore you to take these words seriously.

Thanks for reading! :) If you enjoyed it, hit that heart button below. Would mean a lot to me and it helps other people see the story.

Gary Vaynerchuk

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Family first! But after that, businessman. CEO of @vaynermedia. Host of #DailyVee & The #AskGaryVee Show. A dude who loves The Hustle @Winelibrary & the @NYJets