There’s a lot of romanticism around starting a business, but the truth is that its hard work. It doesn’t have to be impossible, especially if you’re smart and prepared for what lies ahead, but very few people have success stories like Mark Zuckerberg. If you’re ready to really dig deep and figure out if you have what it takes to run your own company, here are just eight tips.

1. Don’t Rush Into Anything

A lot of businesses fail because their founders come up with an idea and immediately quit their jobs and cash out their savings to bring it to life. Don’t make this mistake! If nothing else, you should spend at least six months building up your capital before officially going into business.

2. Save Every Penny

Speaking of capital, it’s always a good idea to have more than you think you need. Most businesses don’t turn a profit in their first year or two, so you’ll need to be able to manufacture your products, ship your packages, operate your building and pay your employees with your savings alone.

3. Advertise Excessively

Put dozens of ads on social media. Hang up flyers in the local community center. Take out a page in the newspaper. There’s no such thing as oversaturating the market, especially when you’re a brand-new company looking to establish yourself. If customers can remember your brand enough to get annoyed by its ads, you’re doing a good job.

4. Go Back to School

There’s no excuse not to have a business degree in this day and age. Schools like the University of Alabama Birmingham offer them completely online, so there’s no need to even change out of your pajamas to attend class. Check out their website to learn more about how they can prepare you for the business world.

5. Trust Your Instincts

If you feel like an investor isn’t being straight with you, don’t take their cash. If you know in your heart that hiring your buddy is a bad idea, don’t let him play on your friendship to get a job. You should always trust your gut when it comes to business decisions. You don’t want to fail and kick yourself afterward.

6. Don’t Worry About Aesthetics

There’s no point in blowing all of your money on glamorous, open-air offices that you can’t even afford to staff. Don’t be afraid to work out of a back room with no windows and limited light. Your products are much more important than your aesthetic.

7. Watch Your Competitors

You always want to know what your competitors are doing. If they’re dropping prices or creating loyalty programs, that’s something that could affect your own business. Make a habit of checking on your rivals every week or so.

8. Listen to Your Customers

When customers complain about something, the proper response isn’t to get defensive and claim that they have no idea what they’re talking about. Whether they’re criticizing your website or your storefront, their feedback should be treated like the valuable commodity that it is. After all, they’re the ones who will ultimately decide if your business is successful.

Every entrepreneur has to start somewhere. If you’re ready to take your ideas and turn them into business plans, use these eight tips for a greater chance of success.