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.
The key thing to know is that you don't know what you don't know. And that's true no matter how much experience you have. Entrepreneurship is learning a series of critical skills in a context where your lack of those skills threatens the very survival of your company. It's dangerous and exhilarating. There's no checklist. Just start learning as fast as you can!
It starts for me with MGSPI.
M= mindset/attitude (high energy, enthousiasm in what you do, opportunity, burning desire)
G= goals (setting the right elements for success, where you want to go)
S= strategy (how do you get there)
P=Plan (planning when what to do)
I= Implementation (do what you describe above).
Try to search for a buddy that can help/support you. Good luick.
What do you need to know - absolutely everything! And you need to learn it all fast. Start with your business plan - you shouldn't do anything without one - even if it's only a single side of A4. Beg, steal and borrow all the help you can get from Friends, Family, Colleagues and Network contacts - at an early stage find a mentor - someone who has started their own business and successfully grown it. As to milestones - don't start a company unless you know what market you are in, how big the market is, who are your competitors and why people will buy from you rather than them.
1. Identify customers
2. Estimated sales for them
3. Find out the price structure and competition
4. Make a realistic budget
5. Make a decision on these points after the establishment of the company
Best of luck!
I strongly encourage you to join locak groups or meetups that are focused on entrepreneurship, especially where you can meet and learn from experienced entrepreneurs. No matter how smart you are or how much you read, you will not fare as well as you will if you bring in experience, whether as cofounders or as hired guns. It will save you time and money and greatly increase your chances of success to have experience involved from the beginning.
Don't expect to do everything yourself. Be willing to rely upon the expertise of those who know specific areas of business better than you. This includes planning on hiring an executive team for any and all functions, including CEO, where you lack the experience to be the best person to help build the team in that function.
WOW! That's a loaded question.. the 1st thing I would say is that you NEED to be "Strategic" and this is not some pat answer, it's how you need to think from the very beginning. The problem I had when I started off was I did not know what "strategic thinking" was or how to use it. Now everything I do is strategic! I just wished I would have had someone teach me how to to do it before I invested a year of no growth or profit!
Start small and plan to grow. Write you business plan so even you want to read it. Then read it every month for the first three months and then every six months for the next two years. This does a few things. You will know your numbers like the back of your hand and you will know when things are working right and if and when to fix it. Know that you will have set-backs and failures and that's normal! Your business will never be perfect so get used to it. Write a marketing plan annually that you will actually execute. And FOCUS! It will be easy to get distracted by shinny objects and everybody wanting you to try their widget to get rich tomorrow. Running your business is a marathon and not a sprint! The goal is to build a business that last and makes money!. Have a blast!
You need a core expertise, which alone or with other founders, gives you a competitive advantage, a 1-2 year lead on the competition, in a sector for which your product/service is in demand as a mission critical solution in the current economy
You need a strong personality, balanced with a willingness to learn and a willingness to be coached by experts that you can identify
A strong work ethic, the ability to prioritize well, ability to do a (very) good enough (but not perfect) job on something, good public presentation skills, and the ability to make good decisions about hiring/partner relationships
Having the ability to put together $50,000-$100,000 in FFF (friends, family, and fools) financing will help a lot.
I agree with Mike, but I would also add that you have someone help you put together a very strong business plan. With the plan, you will identify your milestones, important checklists, and you path to success. Don't be afraid to ask for help . . .if you do this right, you set yourself up for success. Do it wrong, and you will spin your wheels and get nowhere. Let me know if I can help!
Principal Consultant, Crossroad Insights
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