Tips for young entrepreneurs starting their first business

Young entrepreneurs today face a number of challenges, from how to compete in a global marketplace to where to find startup funds in such a rocky economy. The first step, coming up with your first invention or new business model, is perhaps the easiest; the difficult part is setting yourself up for success. In other words: so, you’ve founded your first business—now what?

Here are a few tips for young entrepreneurs starting their first business:

1. Spending time upfront will save you time in the long run

You may be chomping at the bit to spread the word about your new product or service and to start signing up customers or clients, now—but pull up on those reigns, first. Put in the time upfront to create a solid business plan and branding guidelines before launching your startup, and you’ll thank yourself later. It’s essential to have these roadmaps to guide you as your business grows.

2. You are your own best PR person

As a young entrepreneur, no one knows your brand like you do, so it’s up to you to kickstart your own PR program. With the wealth of social media tools and integration available today, there’s no excuse not to have a presence across multiple social media platforms, including Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and Pinterest. For example, Pluggio, a social media management tool that helps significantly grow your Twitter followers, offers one free account with up to five search terms. It also allows you to post across multiple platforms and to pre-schedule posts. Likewise, there are more free and low-priced press release distribution options online than ever before.

3. Work-life balance is key

Everyone says this, but not many young entrepreneurs are good at maintaining a healthy, positive work-life balance—especially with smart phones, laptops and tablets providing 24-7 access to email at your fingertips. According to a recent article in The Atlantic, the U.S. ranks 28th in work-life balance among all developed nations. While long hours are simply the nature of startups, it’s also vital to keep your sanity to keep moving your business forward. Set a schedule for yourself (and stick to it), and don’t be afraid to unplug every once in a while. And, most of all, don’t feel guilty! Think of launching your first company as a marathon, not a sprint.

4. Make friends, and keep them

Admit it: for some of you reading this, networking is the worst. However, the relationships you build early in your entrepreneurial career can help you in the long run. You never know which fellow upstarts you meet and exchange ideas with now may lend you a helping hand—or some startup capital—in the future. But it’s not all about growing your business; networking also provides much-needed fellowship with like-minded individuals for young entrepreneurs who are often going it alone. So get out from behind that laptop in the corner of the coffee shop and attend a local tech happy hour (for example). If you’re intimidated by networking, start with smaller, casual get-togethers before moving up to bigger networking events like sxsw. Coworking spaces can also help foster your creativity and productivity while making lasting connections.

5. Don’t be afraid to ask for help

A final piece of advice for young entrepreneurs just starting out: your new business may be your baby, but it truly takes a village. Don’t be afraid to ask for help when you’re stuck on a project, are facing a problem with seemingly no solution, or simply need to grow your skill set. This is another reason why many entrepreneurs today are turning to coworking spaces: it’s beneficial to bounce ideas off of other professionals with different specialties and experience. And, if someone offers to assist you, know when to let go of the reigns and let someone else bear some of the burden.