Startups are by no means for the faint hearted. Being a new entrepreneur can be highly challenging and stressful, but at the same time incredibly exciting and rewarding.
While there isn’t an exact blueprint, here are 7 top tips to help you set sail in the startup seas.
1. Do you understand the industry?
You need to have an understanding of the sector you plan to launch a business into.
Founder of Fubu, Daymond John, says: “Learn as much as you can about your industry immediately. Become an expert in that industry. Obviously, there are plenty of resources out there between your library and the Internet, but also try to find a mentor who directly answers your questions. Any information is always good information.”
You need to know exactly how a business in this sector operates. Here you’ll learn and discover areas where you can make small, but crucial tweaks to differentiate the offering.
2. Is there a market opportunity?
Make sure you pick a business idea that has a big market opportunity. Carefully research if there’s a demand for your product or service.
Investors are more likely to jump on board if they see a large market opportunity and if the company has the potential to grow significantly.
3. Are you inspired?
Staying inspired and learning from others’ mistakes is crucial. Constantly read and educate yourself on startup stories of others.
It’s safe to say that all successful entrepreneurs have made mistakes along their road to success. They’re often willing to share these insights – you can learn about these on websites, in books, or even at events for people wanting to start a business.
Ben Chestnut, founder of Mail Chimp, says “there is the test that all founders are eventually faced with: when things get too hard, you decide to stay, or you decide to quit. My advice is this: Before you decide, look at all those great, successful businesses that inspired you to start your own. They stayed.”
4. Have you got the funding?
A key part of starting a new business is raising as much funding as you can. Ensure that you have a cushion for all your product developments and marketing expenses you will face.
Ideally, you want enough capital for your operations to break even.
5. Are you talking to the right people?
It may seem like a given, but a lot of first-time startup entrepreneurs shy away from putting their ideas out there, either because they don’t want others to steal their idea or because they’re afraid other entrepreneurs won’t believe in their idea.
However, without talking to experts, advisors, possible investors and customers, you won’t be able to get the feedback you need to improve your idea.
By doing this, you’ll refine your idea and build a business that truly resonates with your customers.
6. Do you have a business plan?
A well thought-out business plan will help you evaluate your idea in detail. This will allow you to create realistic targets for your business and understand all the costs of setting up and advancing your company.
7. Who is your customer?
Understanding the customers you’re thinking of engaging with is essential, as this will indicate if you’re on the right track.
Speak to people who fall under your customer demographic and get a better understanding of how they would respond to your product or service.
Founder and investor of Upfront Ventures, Mark Suster, says you shouldn’t drink your own Kool Aid. He adds: “As public enemy says…don’t believe the hype. The only way to build a sustainable customer is to listen to customers, partners, suppliers and employees.”
To gain more insight into becoming a successful entrepreneur, watch some of the UK’s leading business people reveal the best pieces of business advice they’ve ever received.