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.
I agree with Mike and Gerald. You need to research and plan.
You need to find out if there is a market for whatever it is you intend to sell, whether it's a product or service. Is there someone already doing it?
Are you local or is it national? Do you have something to offer above and beyond your competitors (USP)? Which routes to market do your competitors use? Can you come up with something more customer focused?
Without researching the market, your competition, and your competitors, you won't have a clue whether your service or product will sell.
I had a client who wanted to sell a short H&S course online. He thought it was a great idea for £12, a mandatory course to work on a building site. I sent him away to research. he came back the next week, very grateful that he hadn't just started his business as he had intended, as he had found a website which provided this basic course free of charge - he therefore had no business!
So this comes with the business plan - then you build on that - pricing, marketing strategy, routes to market.
I do also agree, a good mentor is invaluable.
So for me, it's about research and listening to a mentor.
first I would suggest researching to see if there is a market for your product/service and if so what/who is the competition
I am going to break from the herd and say the following:
Failure is to be welcomed because that is how we all learn. Know that this will likely not be your last business or your best, but the process of starting the business is necessary if you are ever to reach those.
1. USP - Unique Selling Proposition (what do you offer that others don't. If you have this your business is more likely to last longer)
2. A good knowledge of how competitors are faring
3. Quick and good decision making skills
These top my list. All the best
Expect to work long hours at the beginning. Don't think you will be the next Mark Zuckerberg and that your idea will change the world- in other words be realistic about your business idea and your plan for growth.
Make sure you know how, what and who to sell to. No business can survive without sales. Do not expect others to sell for you. You can delegate production, management, purchase, accounts and just about everything else but not sales.
- Passion. Fire in your belly. You need to believe in what you're doing.
- Communicate your passion
- Don't start spending money unless you've done the one below.
- Talk to as many people as possible about your idea, especially potential customers. Don't try to sell, but ask for advice and feedback on your idea.
- Be persistent. Don't give up at the first obstacle
- Be flexible. Don't hesitate to change your product idea or business model to adapt to current situation
- Read about the "lean start-up"
- Bring experts in the field to form of a Board of Advisors.
I think the most important thing you need to know before you take a leap and start a company is that it will be a lot more work than you think it will. Starting and running a business provides many great benefits and joys but is also a tremendous amount of work. If you don't absolutely LOVE what it is you are doing you will not be able to make it through the tough days and it will be too easy to give up.
I think knowing that it is Ok to fail is also a must. Not every business is a winner right of the bat. But NEVER EVER give up, keep putting a slightly different spin on your product or service or try and different market. If your work is your passion you will find a way to make it work.
I think everything else that has been mentioned on here is also important but as the first thing you need to know I think the above is it.
When I was 22, I asked my college professor: "What do I need to start a business?" He said: "A good business card!"
At first I thought he was full of it, but now considering what he said, I think that he was right because a good business card identifies the following:
1- Know what your business is
2- Target audience (customers), their culture and needs
3- Make it easy for potential customers to reach you (contact info, and being available)
4- Provide great service or product, the business card will be a "word of mouth" tool and the best tool for advertising
5- The business card defines your identity --> define your identity within what you're providing to your customer base
6- Business cards are not expensive to make (whether digital or in print) --> stay frugal but not cheap
You started the game don't leave before it's finished. Give it at least 5 years, learn about the company, the products because even though you don't need to know everything, you have to know and use what you're offering. USE THE TOOLS the company provides, it will make it easier. Choose a system and follow it to the T. Don't give up that's the only way you can fail. Make lots of friends and enjoy the process don't be hard on yourself. "Some Will, Some Won't, So What, NEXT!"