Everyone dreams of owning their own business.
Whether it’s the allure of working for yourself, or the stream of TV shows that glamourize the world of entrepreneurship flooding the networks, startups are "en vogue".
If you’re committed to running your own business, then where should you start?
Well, start with the basics and walk through these simple eight steps used by some of the world’s titans of the industry.
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1. What Are You Good At?
Indentifying core competencies is extremely important. In your current profession, look back on the areas that came easiest to you.
Maybe you really shine at presenting complex ideas and making them easy to understand.
Or, maybe your skill set is in negotiating complex deals and coming out a winner.
These are important leadership traits, as they will easily allow your future team to understand your vision and then execute it.
2. What Are You Areas of Opportunity?
Areas of opportunity is a kind, gentle way of saying weaknesses; designed by HR consultants to highlight the potential and minimize the ruffling of feathers.
No matter what you call it, you need to know them cold. Your weaknesses, if left unchecked, will cause an insane amount of frustration when you branch out on your own.
Ideally, when starting a new business, you’ll use your list of weaknesses to identify the most important traits you’ll look for in a partner.
Build a team to offset your weaknesses and you’ll set yourself up to weather the ups and downs of the startup world better.
3. Who’s Picking Up the Check?
When you begin dreaming with your eyes open and venture down the path of building a startup you’ll inevitably run into the part where you begin to think about how you’ll pay for your new dream.
Maybe one of your core competencies is financial discipline, or maybe it’s an area of opportunity.
Either way you’ll need to take on outside funding to pay for startup expenses, or future expansion.
Think of dollars as foot-soldiers in the fight to bring your dreams to fruition.
Kevin O’Leary is infamous for saying things like, “Killing money is a crime!” on NBC’s hit "Shark Tank".
He’s right, or at least he should be. A startup without a clear financial picture is only going to end in disaster.
Don’t send your foot soldiers down a path of destruction. Of, if they must be sacrificed in order to gain market-share, make sure it’s a just sacrifice that results in more foot soldiers coming back to you later in return for your short-term sacrifice.
Funding a new business requires creativity. I had a friend who used a settlement from a car accident as the seed for her future.
Although the more traditional routes include things like venture-capital and crowd-funding.
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4. Where Are the Underutilized Opportunities?
The hottest market trends attract entrepreneurs like moths to a light. If the market you’re entering into is already saturated with competition, how do you expect to stand out from the crowd and gain market-share?
The worst possible answer would be to try and undercut the competition in a crowded field, as that would likely require taking a loss.
Even if you gain a 10 percent market-share in a crowded industry, using price as the sole-differentiator would mean that the more customers you bring in, the more money you lose.
Think long and hard before you enter into a crowded space. Do the market research to find out if the margins just won’t be sustainable; you might find that innovation could be the key to your success, mitigating the worries about margin.
5. Where Are You Going to Find Your Team?
The world is full of dreamers. You need to find the “doers” that will dig in and get things done.
Your future business depends on the right people that share your vision for success and are willing to sacrifice in the short-term to turn vision into reality.
But where do you find these people? Think carefully before hiring friends. While it might seem tempting, many friendships have been ruined by working together.
Instead, begin advertising through your network of contacts. If someone is excited by the prospect of partnering up on a new venture, they’ll reach out and you can schedule a coffee meeting.
Find out what they’re about and see if you could see yourself sharing your dream with them.
6. How Can I Solve My Problems?
If pulling together the financials is too difficult, then you’ll need to throw in some serious sweat-equity. Look at the world around you.
The inventor of the Clip Strip made his breakthrough when he realized the supermarket shelves he was stocking were missing potential inventory that could be hung along the face of the shelving.
He figured out a way to fix a common problem that others hadn’t even noticed yet.
If he could make millions off a piece of plastic, imagine what you can do with the little problems in your world?
Solve problems for others and sell them on your solution. The money you raise will help you to pave the future on your terms.
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