You have spent years dreaming about starting your own business, and now that the time has come… don’t mess it up!
I spend all my time meeting, mentoring, and working with new founders who intend to conquer the world with their new product or service. But a lot of them don’t realize that creating a new business is going to require actual work.
So here is my Top 5 things you MUST do as an entrepreneur so your startup can succeed:
Okay princess… you may have dreamed of this moment for years, but nobody has even heard of your startup or knows what the heck you are talking about.
So the chances of people discovering who you are, what you do, “get what your doing”, and are ready to pull out their credit card and pay for it on Day One ( or even Day Thousand ) are likely pretty slim.
So get that shit out of your head!
Your startup is going to be a grind ( albeit a rewarding one ) where you are constantly going to question why you are doing this in the first place.
You are going to have late nights, early mornings, fights with family/friends, have meetings that will go nowhere, shift your business model multiple time, and struggle to find your fit in the marketplace.
I have not worked with a startup yet that was able to “Figure It Out” in less than three years. So make sure you believe in what you are doing and prepare yourself for the long haul.
If you become successful earlier than three years, then go buy a lotto ticket and have a beer… and be thankful that you prepared yourself properly.
Teamwork makes the dream work!
Can you do it alone and be a solopreneur? … Sure, you can. But you are essentially handicapping yourself by imposing self-solitude.
There are so many benefits of finding the right team members to joining your team including different perspectives, division of work, different skill sets/strengths, more connections and networking.
Trying to rally people around you and your startup is also the first litmus test of how good your idea or business actually is.
If you can’t convince people to WANT to join your team then perhaps either your a complete jerk, or your idea is not as good as you think it is.
It is also important that you protect your startup from the wrong team members by putting a proper equity and vesting structure. That way you can divorce people who can’t deliver on what they promised in the future.
I always have to laugh a little when I hear:
We are in Stealth Mode
Really?! Why? Why in the heck wouldn’t you want to tell everybody and anybody about what you are trying to do?
Many entrepreneurs are scared that somebody ( like me LOL ) is going to hear about their idea and “steal it” from them. So they make everybody and their brother sign a NDA ( non-disclosure agreement ) just to hear the idea or see a demo.
A lawyer might advise that is a sound business decision, but in reality it is pretty
noob-ish in my non-judicial opinion.
The reason why is simple… everyone else on this planet is dealing with their own crap and has their own ‘million-dollar ideas’. ( I personally have a notebook full of ideas that I would love to pursue if/when I have time)
So the chances that your idea is better than my entire book of ideas ( not likely ) and I’m willing to throw those all way and try to
beat you to market seems very unlikely.
I am also of the opinion, that if I can hear of an idea and execute it better than you, then you weren’t the
right person to run that startup. ( sorry… a little dickish maybe ) But also realize this… as soon as you start making money with an idea… other entrepreneurs are going to start flooding the market with similar products.
So tell everyone what your startup is up to… the benefit is that they will give you constructive feedback, offer assistance, want to join your team, and connect you with potential partners and customers.
The benefits greatly outweigh the preceived downsides.
This goes hand-in-hand with “Tell Everyone About Your Startup”.
Your product doesn't exist?!… Launch!
Your app is still buggy?!… Launch!
Are you waiting for Feature X/Y/Z before you launch?!… Just Frinken Launch!
We have a saying in the software world… “If you aren’t down-right embarrassed by your first product then you launched too late!”.
The purpose of launching early ( and often ) is to get that early feedback, so you have time to react what the marketplace is telling you. What you don’t want is to waste months perfecting a product that the marketplace doesn’t even want.
Don’t worry about pissing off a whole bunch of potential customers… remember they have better things to do than to tell everyone they know how terrible your product is. You have also will have an opportunity to talk with them one-on-one and figure out
Why… so it is a good situations either way.
In the startup world this is called “Failing Fast”. Failing Fast allows us to save our time and resources ( i.e. money ) by reacting quickly to feedback from the marketplace, rather than keeping our head buried in the sand and hoping we got it right. ( which rarely ever happens the first time )
Every founder that I have worked with has said they wished they had launched earlier. You might think that your startup is a special case… but let me assure you that isn’t the case ( sorry… being dick-ish again )
This is by far the most critical problem entrepreneurs face when starting their own business.
How Do I Get Customers?!
Whether or not a startup can answer this question ( and how quickly ) usually determines if that startup is still around in a year or not.
It seems pretty logical that
advertising and marketing should be a crucial piece of the business plan, but still amazes me how little actual thought entrepreneurs give to it early on.
They will spend an extraordinary amount of time and effort in product development and fundraising, but they will rarely spend any time wondering how the heck they will get paying customers or how much it will cost them to obtain/retain a new customer.
Again, I think it boils down to the fact that every founder thinks that customers will be lining up down the street to sign-up and use their product.
So learn about advertising, learn about marketing, and figure out where your customers are hanging out early on. That means creating ads, testing keywords, and build a ‘pre-launch` email list so you can begin building relationships with your customers before you even launch your product