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5 tips for starting a successful business
June 23, 2016

As an entrepreneur starting a new project or venture, you’re likely to face many challenges. You’re not alone — other entrepreneurs from Latin America and the Caribbean have been there. Here is some advice they share for starting a new venture.

Be ready to seize opportunity

Timing is key for starting a business. If your startup isn’t ready for prime time, keep learning and working, says Alejandra Bazoberry, a strategic planner at Bolivia Rural, a digital communications company that seeks to address the needs of rural Bolivians and the local development organizations that support them.

Bazoberry advises getting more experience while you work on your product. For example, take classes to develop new skills or work in a company while saving money for your startup. “Be prepared to take the opportunity” when the right time comes to start your business, Bazoberry says.

Prepare a business plan

When José Sánchez founded his startup, he was so focused on building his platform that he didn’t think about how he would make money. He neglected to map out a formal statement of business goals, reasons the goals are attainable or plans for reaching them — key ingredients of a typical business plan.

Focus on creating a solution that solves the problem at hand, but also “think about the money,” says Sánchez, who co-founded Poliglota, a platform in Chile that connects people worldwide to learn languages via conversation groups.

Defend your product

“Know your product and be willing to defend it tooth and nail,” advises Triston Thompson, who is a partner and information systems architect at IntellectStorm, an IT and marketing solutions provider in Guyana. If you don’t believe in your product, Thompson says you’ll have a hard time getting others to believe in it.

It’s also good to surround yourself with positive people “who will build you up and not tear you down,” says Thompson.

Assess your product’s impact

Consider the potential impact of your product or solution before you launch it.

“Think about and listen to every actor that’s going to be involved, whether it’s the environment, the community or politicians,” says Sofía Cruz, the founder of Mexikatekatl, which connects local artisans with businesses in Mexico that buy and sell their goods.

“Try to create a project where you can see the benefit to everyone from the beginning,” Cruz says.

Find a mentor

“Search for a mentor who will push you toward your goal,” says Kheston Walkins, founder and director of Raiora Data Services, which provides digital publishing and marketing solutions in Trinidad & Tobago.

When Walkins was working on starting his company, most of his friends didn’t understand what he was doing. Looking back, he thinks having a mentor would have helped because that person will look after your best interests and give you advice. “The more advice you have” the more confident you’ll be in starting your business, says Walkins.