Take your vitamins, get adequate sleep, and be prepared for lots of setbacks and disappointments before you finally "crack the code" on how to sell your product or service. If software development is involved, be sure to find a competent tech person who wants to be your CTO so you have help figuring out what's feasible and within a the scope of the funding you can raise. Be sure to write your business plan early in the process, and keep refining it as you go. Someone else mentioned getting a mentor, it's a great suggestion, look to your nearest entrepreneur group for someone willing to help you get started. And get used to hearing "no" a lot until you work out the product/service offering and your sales tactics. Good luck!
Before everything, during the rollercoaster ride, the setbacks, the tiny triumphs, and beyond, find and commit to that solid unflinching, uncompromising belief in your vision. Let everything be a lesson but allow nothing and no one shift you from it.
You can have the greatest idea, all the venture capital in the world but without the right team with you, for the right reasons, you may as well be empty handed.
Be able to answer the following:
1. What need or want are you addressing?
2. Who are your customers, and do they really, really care?
3. In the face of competition and many choices, will your customers pay your prices, again and again?
Finally, talk to lots of people, learn, and take action. Best wishes.
I am not sure what you mean by professionals, but if it's someone working as a corporate employee, I would first advice them to carefully consider entrepreneurship. It can be a rewarding path, but it's hard work and not everyone would enjoy it. So they should make sure entrepreneurship is right for them. I would then tell them to get feedback on their idea and do some market research before launching into a new business.
Make sure that if you do not have all of the skills set to run a business, that you hire or outsource for the skills you are lacking so when you do launch, you have expertise in all areas.
Here are some items to consider before launching a startup:
1. Get help - line up co-founders (if desired), advisors, mentors.
2. Related to No. 1, pick your team wisely. It's crucial at the beginning to have the right team members in place. They need to be trustworthy, willing to put as much effort in as you are, and open to other's opinions. It's not necessary that you all agree on everything, but you need to be able to come to a consensus on key issues and move forward together.
3. Validate the need for your solution. Can you identify any customers and, more importantly, explain why they would pay for your solution?
4. Determine your startup capital needs.
5. Outline several options to acquire your startup capital.
6. Determine an appropriate corporate structure (LLC, S or C Corp. partnership, etc.).
7. Are there any intellectual property issues that stand out? These can include prior non-compete agreements with previous employers, patents that may need to be filed or licensed, etc. Prior to starting up, you should have a general idea regarding any potential IP hurdles that may need to be overcome.
Tell yourself and listen to your truth! Know that failure is progress and if you don't fail at something at one time or another in the process you aren't aiming high enough. If you never go to the edge how else will you know where it is? Go slow, because explosive growth will kill you. Especially, if you didn't plan for it. Be aware that running your business is a marathon and not a sprint. The goal is to be in business for a long time or at least create something that will stand the test of time.
Work with someone, a mentor or business coach on a weekly basis before jumping ship! I am assuming a professional is someone in a current job. There is alot of groundwork that can be done, where you can invest an hour a day to your "startup" while not putting complete strain on your finances or stress on your body and mind. Its like building the bridge, creating something ready for you to step into. I am not talking about making it perfect but its often hard to focus on two things, hence having someone to bounce with a key to success!
Do some research -- not just into the company but into the idea of starting up. Professionals who leave large companies are suddenly in the position of doing it all. Entrepreneurship is not for everyone and I recommend researching the idea of being an entrepreneur before doing it.
1. Change your approach to evaluate reward / risk ratio - Professionals work on risk / reward ratio.
2. Learn how to organize right resources at the right time. Resources will ensure that work gets executed.
3. Change your habit to work on bottom line - professionals work on expenditure.
4. Allocate money to first to feed for employees and business partners. They will ensure to generate money to feed for business owners.
Take steps to build
1. Create business model - a tool to sharpen business sense.
2. Create business presentation and run with closed group - a tool to understand, what will not work at ground level and what will sell.
3. Short list (Not recruit) your target team - a tool to keep low gap between revenue and expenditure.
5. Create business website - minimum bare requirement to sign up with team and prospective customers and suppliers.
6. Hire business place / office and team - must before you ask for seed money.
5. Get seed funding, if required
6. Start your business.
Keep in mind :
1. All resources like business plan, website, presentation should be updated immediately as you move until launch stage.
2. Ensure that you have enough cash in hand to feed your family, pay to employees and fund the activities for estimated break even period
3. Modify your path to reach faster to break even point without sacrificing the long term objective to create business
Examine deeply your reasons for launching a new business as it's not always the best solution for many professionals. Being unhappy or unfilled in your current role often leads to thinking that going alone or setting up new business is preferable to their current situation. Look at all the alternatives and if you decide to go for a start-up get ready for a massive change in your life. Lots of great advice in fellow posts, all worth a read. Be lucky and work hard!
Get the support of a capable Virtual Assistant as soon as you're able! You can't do it all alone, and you'll quickly overwhelm yourself if you try. Get a VA who who can assist with those administrative tasks that need to be done so that you can focus on the tasks that are business-building.
Take time to plan carefully. Remember you are building a business not creating a job for yourself.
Develop a simple business plan, know your market and be clear as to how you are different from your competition.
You are probably full of good ideas. Start with the one that will be your fastest path to cash.
Do your prep work: 1) Survey's to get the feel of your customer base, 2) Choosing colors based on their psychology to your customer base, 3) Using all the web site tools available, and 4) Networking groups of all sizes and shapes.
Know what your capital needs are and double the figure - seriously. The road to success is lined with linked recoveries...
Understand your unique value to a targeted base of customers. Understanding your competitive differentiation is imperative to developing your business plan, key objectives and revenue goals.
Money is the mother's milk of business - without it even a concept that turns dirt into gold will never realize its potential. You must have enough money to get through the proof of concept stage if you intend on seeking investors. If you go it on your own without investors you will need to have enough money to sustain your operations until profitable. My rule of thumb us 3X what you "think" it will take. Good luck.
Many of the challenges in the start-up process are very predictable. You need a good idea, a market that has at least marginal interest in that idea. You need good partners, lots of money, and the ability to smile in the morning and beat people silly in the afternoon.
Start-ups are a way of life. It's not a job, it's not a career, it's a way of life. You start a business for the sense of accomplishment and the trouble becomes that real accomplishment takes a while to happen. Plus, the lack of accomplishment can steal confidence, breed fear, and cause a paralysis that founders cannot afford.
These are some concerns to entertain -
• Sales will not grow as quickly as founders project.
• Miscalculations are usually made in what it costs to sell.
• You chase too many kinds of customers or too large a geographic territory.
• You introduce too many products with limited resources.
• You need to get and keep experienced people fully involved - incent them.
• Watch that operating costs and overhead do not increase without your notice.
• Selling someone once doesn't make them loyal customers.
Use experts to analyze your opportunity - the price you pay in time, energy, money and assessment is well worth your while. The alternative is a slow painful exercise in failure. Financiers are great analysts or consultants who have had experience in companies comparable to the start-ups they evaluate. They will help you get to the heart of the business you are thinking about starting. These people will not hesitate to say what to them is obvious.
Competitors are not dumb. They have been where you are going. They also have what you do not and that is a real, operating business. The amount of energy and time you will need to create more money than it costs to create it is essential to know. Failure to know these things will make you bleed money.
Finally you must know the responsibilities of being CEO. You will be expected to be chief technologist, strategist, salesperson, interior decorator, human-resource director, and office manager. It is essential to delegate and trust well or you will be buried by the time needed to do all of those responsibilities.
There is a lot more advice that you will get from a true expert but this is a brief highlight and I also offer this list of questions to ask yourself before you take the leap.
1. What is the market potential for your company's product or service? What is the revenue potential for the industry, and what is its growth rate?
2. How did you calculate market potential? How do you determine industry sales and growth rate?
3. What makes your business different or unique?
4. Why would someone be "compelled" to purchase your product or service? What specific needs does it address?
5. How do you know that your business has high-growth potential?
6. What is it about your management team that makes them uniquely capable of executing on this business plan?
7. What are the primary risks facing this opportunity?
8. Who are your competitors?
9. What gives your company a competitive advantage?
10. Does the company have proprietary intellectual property in the form of patents, trademarks, copyrights, etc.?
11. When will your company break even in terms of profitability and cash flow?
12. How do you plan to acquire customers?
13. How do you plan to keep customers?
14. What drives customer satisfaction for this industry and for the product? And, how do you know?
15. Who is the end user of the product or service offering?
16. What alliances or partnerships have you entered (e.g. joint ventures, marketing alliances, licensing arrangements, selling/distribution agreements, channel partnerships, software agreements, etc.)?
17. What is the anticipated lifecycle of your product or service offering? What are your current and future plans for R&D investment?
18. How do you plan to expand your labor force?
19. What are the probable exit scenarios?
Identify your most valuable knowledge, capture it as an information product (video, audio, ebook, etc.), sell it online. Become a Knowledge Entrepreneur!
I offer this advice because I assume you're a knowledge worker (professional) with valuable professional knowledge.
I became a Knowledge Entrepreneur at age 31, and it wasn't easy, but today, there are so many tools enabling professionals to capture their knowledge and sell it online.