What must young/first-time entrepreneurs know before they build a company?
Are there milestones, starting points or specific checklists I should go through before I begin to build my first company? Any advice would be appreciated, thanks.
If you're considering starting a company you need to consider cost. The cost of a start-up varies on location, size, franchising, and so on but most businesses require a logo, and a sign. This is extremely important in creating your business' brand and getting your name out there.
Do something that you love doing, that you are talented at doing, and something that get's you excited every morning. Build around what you want, and build to design your lifestyle. I've started 21 companies, the first of which were not based around my desires. I was designing my businesses around what would make the quickest and most money. Bad idea to focus on the money first.
I believe that crafting your brand--your promise to buyers with a foundation of trust-- is one of the most important initial steps in jumpstarting a business. Branding is about discovering the thing deep inside you and your business that creates unique value for your customers and differentiates you from the competition. All good business decisions are made in alignment with the established brand. Your brand determines the position and strength of your entire marketing framework, and serves as consistent point of focus. If you clearly and consistently brand your business, you’ll have a laser-focused understanding of your business’s values and goals, and a self awareness that dictates all your actions. Over time, you will build a stronger business identity.
The thing many first-time entrepreneurs seem to miss the most is how little they really know about the definition of being a true entrepreneur. Seek advice and wisdom from those you trust and those who have already proven themselves. And if you do not succeed, it is only a failure if you do not learn from it. Otherwise, it becomes another lesson in life.
First, you don't need to be young to be a first-time entrepreneur and not all young people are first-timers. Ask yourself, "what problem can I solve and who will pay for a solution?" Then ask, "am I the person to solve this? Why me?" Then, "how is this problem being solved now? Can I create a BIG improvement in that solution?" If you cannot answer, "the problem is BIG and lots of people will pay BIG money for a solution, I am the right person to solve this because I understand the pain and have a creative solution to the problem people will love, and that solution will be reasonably unique or so far ahead of current solutions that I will reap the financial rewards due me from this awesome solution...then, young or not, keep your day job.
Remember three important elements in starting a business (assuming you have the money)....First, ensure you have a GREAT accountant; Second, ensure you have a GREAT lawyer and ensure you have a GREAT imagination. You'll find numerous resources to starting a business, developing a short term and long term business plan and keeping it on track. I always found it more productive to keep your business plans in short 90 day attainable plans-of-action.. Let nature take it's course in the beginning before you accelerate. Keep a level head, eyes wide open and (again) never look back. Mistakes will happen. It's a natural evolution of a business. You goal is to keep those mistakes to a minimum. Remember too, People will tell you you can't make it happen and you're wasting time and money. But if you believe in it. It will happen. It's called a dream! Dream BIG!
Figure out a clear path to getting a salary. Don't plan on working for free more than a month or two. You gotta make an all in. Better find money first, if you can't you've got a problem.
The first company isn't yours. It very quickly becomes the property of investors, unless you're ridiculously lucky. The most important implication of that is that you should choose your investors wisely. Pitch people who bring more than money to the table, with whom you have good chemistry and for whom you won't mind working.
Granted, you can't really control who's first to the table with money,but you can control who you pitch, which has an indirect influence on who you have to live with in the long term.
Researching and planning are important because you certainly do not want to be learning by trial and error. On the other hand - paralysis by analysis is just as deadly. Do not wait until everything is "perfect" to launch. You will starve before you get there.
Also - expect it to take substantially more money and time than you anticipated. My rule of thumb has been anticipate 3X of each.