You’re toiling away at your corporate 9-5 every day. You push paper and hone in on skill sets to make a profit for other people but all the while you secretly have bigger dreams for yourself. But then, a lightning bolt hits! You come up with a business idea with so much potential that it doesn’t make sense not to pursue it. But wait, you’re terrified. Where do you even begin? Should you quit the job that’s providing you with a solid paycheck? How can you be sure that your idea will succeed? What are the inevitable road blocks down the line? Do you even have the necessary skills, capacity and expertise to be an entrepreneur?
But if you decide to follow this genius business idea, know that you WILL grow as an entrepreneur. I’m not saying that it’s going to be a walk in the park but after making mistakes, you’ll learn through trial and error about what you need to do to succeed. Although there’s no straight forward guide to starting a fabulously successful business, I suggest that if you have an idea, get started there (it’s free, so there’s no strings attached) but to start you off, here’s my top tidbits of startup wisdom:
1. Come From the Right Place: “I want to be my own boss”, I hear this all the time, usually accompanied by a smug look. I agree that not having to work for anyone is actually very advantageous but if you’re just starting a business to get out from under the weight of responsibility and a manager then you should double think this decision. Being a founder of a business is actually much more difficult, stressful and energy consuming than having a boss. At the end of the day, you’re the one responsible for making things happen and you manage yourself. Be mindful that you’ll probably be bootstrapping in the initial stages of launching your company so you probably won’t be paying yourself a salary. If you’re looking for a low stress situation, don’t become a business owner.
2. It’s the Execution, Not the Idea That Matters: If you’ve been mum about sharing your business idea with colleagues, friends and family then you might be making a tremendous mistake. Look, we get that you want to protect your idea so that no one else can “steal” it but realize first that a business idea is really just the tip of the iceberg. All that you’ll need to assemble for success lies below the water and it really has nothing to do with the idea. Unless your cousin Steve can put together as awesome of an expert team as you can as well as bring all the years of experience that you have to the table, it’s not likely that he can “steal your idea”. Consider talking to the people around you about your idea, see if you can convince them that’s it’s a viable one. Take notes when they give you constructive criticism. You don’t have to take it all to heart, but you need to learn from both positive and negative comments.
3. No, Money Cannot Solve All of Your Problems: Sorry to say but just because you have a business idea or even a new company doesn’t mean that you should start looking for funding. Investment hunting takes a lot of energy and it will take some time before you’re even ready to start. First thing’s first, prepare yourself and learn how to bootstrap. In the meantime, write up a business plan so you actually know what you’re doing for the next 3-5 years, think of your BP as an active map of goals, direction, milestones etc. to help you get from point A to point B. Funding might be point Z so don’t even worry about it for now. Prep yourself in every way possible, throw yourself into your industry as an intern, apprentice, whatever you can get your hands on to build up experience in your field. Spend your time meeting the right kind of people, whether it’s finding mentors who can give you advice or trusted experts who will be your future board of advisers, build up a network to support yourself. Take care of everything else first and the money will come later.
4. Perseverance Is 98% Of the Equation: You can be the most capable, intelligent, experienced and wealthy individual and still have a failing business. Your idea could be the most brilliant one since the invention of the wheel and still, you could have a failing business. So it’s not these characteristics that amount to success, most of the time it’s about how long you can persevere. Along the way, you’ll encounter a lot of naysayers so learn from the get go to grow a thick skin and believe in your idea enough to carry on. Times will be tough, you’ll be one ramen packet away from giving up and going back to your corporate job but again perseverance is everything. I can’t stress this enough; no one is going to believe in you more than you so it’s your job to keep your business going until your hit success by keeping yourself afloat.