Don’t. It is the most difficult thing you’ll ever do in your life. Here are a few reasons;
- You will be lonely most of the time,
- Your loved ones will hate you,
- Your friends will pull you down,
- You’ll cry at nights,
- You will fail. A lot,
- The reward will be much less than what you work for and,
- 90% of what you do will not be seen by anyone. Do you want all that effort to go unnoticed?
Okay, now that the warnings are out of the way let’s answer your question,
Starting a business requires a recipe and here are the ingredients,
Every business starts with an idea. But notice that I didn’t write the word ‘IDEA’ in bold but ‘VISION’ because idea does not matter, your vision does. Let me tell you a little secret: Your idea is not unique. Chances are, someone has already done something about your idea and has a finished product. But let me tell you another secret: Your vision is unique. What you do with the idea makes all the difference aka your vision. No one can come close to the vision you have with your idea. Focus on the vision, not the idea. Protect your vision and sell the idea.
You have a great idea and a great vision to go with it, great. You have done 0.0000001% of the work. Next comes research. This is probably one of the most important ingredient as it defines the direction your business will go. Do market research, a lot of it, every day and know your consumer base. Don’t ask random people whether your idea will work or not because they don’t know. They are as clueless as you. Ask that one friend who is always brutal and let him/her visualize your idea fully and get his feedback instead. Do a lot of research on your own and see similar businesses in your area and see how they are doing and what makes you different. The last thing you want is to create a product no one needs.
If you think you are going to have a one-man show then I have some bad news for you. Don’t start alone. Find people and reach out to them. Be shameless in asking for their help. Most will leave you after wasting some of your time but it’s all part of the process. Keep moving from one co-founder to another and eventually you will find that one guy who is your soulmate. Build a great team that shares the same vision as your’s. Debate over the idea and look into it from someone else’s perspective.
Business is a form of art and should be treated as such. Learn everything you can that will help you in developing a great business. Read books, listen to podcasts and follow mentors. The more you work on yourself, the more clear you are with your vision.
Start. Wherever you are, just start. Don’t wait for the perfect moment, it will never come. Take small steps, you are still a beginner. Make little improvements everyday and gain momentum.
Build a product, any product. Don’t try to make a it perfect, just build it and launch it in the market. Get user feedback and improve. Introduce a working model and let the public roast you. Learn what works and what doesn’t. Make changes accordingly.
7. WORD OF MOUTH
Do you know the best form of marketing? Referrals. Not only the best but also the cheapest. Get the word out as much as you can buy asking your customers to recommend you to their friends and friends of friends. Give them something in return like a gift card and they will happily market you. Win/Win for everyone.
8. BE COMPETITIVE
Be competitive in something. Price, quality, experience, service it doesn’t matter. If you can’t differentiate yourself neither can the consumers.
Either you are bootstrapping your venture or you are getting funded by a VC, always invest the money you have in the right place. Make each dollar count.
10. MICROSOFT EXCEL
Know your numbers. Study and read finance. Your business can be the coolest in the world but it still needs to fill the boring old spreadsheets.
11. FOLLOW GEORGE WASHINGTON
Scale your business fast. The sooner your start earning money from your business the better. Keep improving your MVP (Minimum Viable Product) along the way. Keep your profits high and increase your consumer base as much as you can. Don’t forget old customers in the way, they are more likely to purchase from you again. Market your product and advertise it in every possible medium (Just not T-shirts and baseball caps).
12. THE BIGGER PICTURE
This again goes back to the first ingredient. Don’t forget your vision along the way and stick to it. Pivot in your execution but not in a validated vision. A lot of companies did that and they failed. Build a brand image and let the world know what you stand for. A bad image is better than having none.