8 Things You Need to Know Before Starting a Business

Bluemercury’s Marla Beck and other successful founders share their advice for aspiring entrepreneurs.


March 5, 2019 7 min read

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Nothing can fully prepare you for starting your own business—but you can learn from others who’ve been there. We asked eight founders and Advisors in The Oracles what they wish they’d known when they were starting out. Here’s what they said.

1. Realize entrepreneurship is a marathon.


1. Realize entrepreneurship is a marathon.

Marla Beck

Image credit: The Oracles

The Nasdaq crashed one year after we started Bluemercury. For a year and a half, there was no way to raise venture capital and we had to figure out how to build our business with revenue and cash flow. Now the company has been through two recessions.

Many entrepreneurs focus on how they can exit their business in a few years. But things are always changing, and life rarely works out like you plan. Instead, focus on building a great company for the long term. Remember, entrepreneurship is a marathon, not a sprint. —Marla Beck, co-founder and CEO of Bluemercury, which was acquired by Macy’s for $210 million; creator of M-61 Skincare and Lune+Aster cosmetics

2. Ensure there is a demand for your product or service.


2. Ensure there is a demand for your product or service.

Matt Mead

Image credit: The Oracles

Entrepreneurship requires working harder and learning more about yourself than you can imagine. It has lucrative rewards — but no guarantees. When things get intense, you’re running out of cash, and you want to quit, remember that sales may not cure all issues, but you can’t cure the issues without sales.

Companies that thrive focus on being consistently profitable so they can withstand unforeseen events like economic downturns. Before you start a business, do your research, know your numbers, and be certain there’s a market and demand for your product or service. Every sale should be profitable, ideally by 50 percent. Then you’ll have money to hire A-list players so you can focus on the work you want to do. Document everything and build systems as you go, so anyone could do your job tomorrow. But first, learn how to sell! —Matt Mead, founder and CEO of Mead Technology Group, EpekData, and BrandLync

3. Know you won’t get it right the first time.


3. Know you won’t get it right the first time.

Joshua Harris

Image credit: The Oracles

Don’t dwell in information-gathering mode. The only way to progress is to actually do it — take action immediately. Then you must be quick on your feet, analyze the results, and make changes if needed. You’re probably not going to get it right the first time — or even the second or third. But if you’re nimble, you can pivot.

Avoid heavy overhead. Look for ways to make cash quickly and get paid upfront. The more cash you have, the more you’re able to take calculated risks — which you need to do. You can’t have an upside without a downside. Invest in yourself and have confidence that you will deliver. When you “fail,” consider it feedback. Each time you test a theory in the real world, you’ll get feedback that shows you how to improve. The only way you’ll actually fail is if you give up. —Joshua Harris, founder of Agency Growth Secrets; teaches entrepreneurs how to start, grow, and scale marketing agencies that help businesses grow

4. Be patient and make sure you have adequate funding.