As someone who's successfully created a start up, I can share the following learnings and takeaways:
- Don't go it alone! Diversity in thought is great, and the best way to bring that is to have multiple people involved. In that way, you can cover off on a large range of strengths as a group, without needing to learn and develop yourself excessively. You want to have three basic points covered: Someone who has knowledge in the field of the business (i.e. if you're looking at doing sports marketing, you'll want someone who understands marketing and has a keen interest in sport), someone who has a knowledge of business and finance (there are budgets that need to be made, sales and financial forecasts that have to be completed, and taxes that have to be filed) and someone who can sell your product.
- Make sure you plan well. There's a saying - measure twice, and cut once. If you plan well, there are less chances that you'll be surprised by curveballs which could be costly and/or a big risk to your business.
- Don't be afraid to reach out for help! There are a number of start up mentoring organizations that can provide you with the basics and ground work for your start up to be successful.
Hope this helps!
I'd like to add to Sahel's great tips
- Be pragmatic, yet visionary: you need to inspire and influence others as an entrepreneur (otherwise they won't "buy" your product or idea), yet, you gotta keep things under a reality. Have a good initial plan to how you're going to start things off. Remember: an idea is not a business. You gotta put it out in the market and test it (which goes to my second point)
- Learn to fail fast. Your initial tests may not work out, you may not get a client or make money on the first year or two. You need to keep focused and try out different approaches to your business. Sometimes the wrong timing or pitch will keep you out of getting clients.
- be humble! your idea is not unique or the best. You don't know all about the market and skillsets, therefore be humble and open enough to listen. Talk to people from different industries and profiles, gather different perspectives
And final word I'd say is - sometimes different is better than better. You may have an idea that will disrupt the market (recommended book read: 'the blue ocean strategy').
I think most of all it takes courage to be an entrepreneur. Be prepared to take intelligent risks and out yourself out there. You may not succeed at first and that is ok. You will learn more from adversity than anything else in life.
Strengths: tenacity, courage, vulnerability, drive, empathy, thinking differently
Weaknesses: caring too much (actually a good thing)
Hundreds of businesses are started each day around the globe. They range in size from a few dollars of revenue to giant sums of money. For the entrepreneur, starting out can be very challenging or if one has the appropriate backing and experience, very easy. It just takes an idea! Every large and successful company in the world started with an idea. They usually started small and grew, often branching into areas they did not start in.
So, even if you are not ready to start now, there are a number of things that you could do to improve your chances for success down the road; they don’t cost anything, they will be educational and fun, you can start today and you can proceed at your own pace.
If you are one of the fortunate folks who know the type of business you want to pursue, that is to your benefit but it is not essential. If you do, start a journal and start your basic research: start with who would be the competitors, how do they market, where are they, what makes them special, what are are they planning for the future, how you could be competitive, how might you differentiate your product or service. You’ll be learning observation skills, elements of marketing, sales and many other aspects of business that will be valuable even if you don’t start a business in that area. Subscribe to any trade publications, join an appropriate trade organization or volunteer so you can to make contacts and learn more specific information. The information you gather now, will become valuable later when you put together a business plan. If this is done over a long period, it may also show potential partners, investors or bankers the depth of your interest and commitment. It will also help you to determine what skills, assets and plans you will need to acquire before launching your business.
If you really don’t know what area you wish to pursue, not to worry. ANY business you start will have common elements. Think of this process as the “who, what, where, and why” questions for your business. Again, keep a journal of your findings, developing your knowledge, potential challenges and possible outcomes. As you progress you’ll be learning about the elements required to start a business. They will sound daunting but if one approaches them thoughtfully, methodically and with confidence you will get to your own launch. The reality is: This is not easy and by launch time, you will have answered many of the following questions:
Do you have the self-discipline, drive and dedication to your venture? Good ideas are a “dime a dozen”, translating those ideas into goods and services (and making a profit) is not for the easily discouraged. While success is particularly satisfying as an entrepreneur, the amount of time, effort and difficulty will not be minimal. Do you have the personal communication skills, sales ability and technical knowledge necessary to market and sell your product or service?
Do I have the financial backing to embark on your venture? If you’re living at home and are receiving food, clothing and shelter, insurance, transportation and a space for your venture, that’s great. If you are missing any of these resources, it will be necessary to provide them while you are starting your business. That said, people have started businesses on a “shoestring” but it is VERY difficult to do and contributes to the already high stress involved with a startup.
Do you have the core competencies to start the business? That is, the analytical skills, financial tools, marketing strategy etc. It helps to list the resources you need, the resources you have and the gap between the two. Filling in the gaps with resources will be an important part of your business planning.
Have you defined what your business will be, who are your likely customers and why they are likely to purchase your product or services? Have you explored other companies in the same field? How would you differentiate your business from theirs?
Once you have some of these questions answered, out, you’ll be ready to begin a formal business plan, developing all the details of your concept and delivery scheme.
Donald recommends the following next steps: