I asked five people I know and who have their own business to share 5 tips they’d give people when starting out. Below are the results.
- Find a business partner: Startups are lonely work and there is lots to do, a business partner will keep you sane, shoulder half the work and help stamp out some of your more loopy ideas
- Ensure your financial security: Most businesses take at least 1 year to get to a point where either a) you start to make money or b) you can raise investment. Its very difficult to focus on your business if you don’t know where your next meal is coming from.
- Don’t consult full time: Many people imagine they can start a new business while consulting full time, but its practically impossible to do this unless you are some kind of superman. Its just to hard to do both well. You either get fired as a consultant or end up with a lousy business.
- Ask everybody for advice: Most people have useful feedback and will give it graciously if asked in a genuine way.
- Meet your customers : The best validation of any business idea is obtained by meeting customers. This should be job one for any entrepreneur. At least three of my business ideas have gone down the crapper after meeting several customers who slipped into a stupor as I told them how I was going to change their lives.
- Don’t give up your day-job.
- Do try to attend conferences – bonus points if you can demo your software at said conference. Do try to network – (if you believe ‘network’ should never be used as a verb – at least mingle).
- Stay lean. Bootstrap for as long as you can. Sales is the best type of funding.
- Give something away. Make a free version of your product / service – it will get people talking about / linking to your site/service which will help your page-rank which will help your sales.
- Be personal. Don’t put on the airs of a big company. Being small means you can be more personal and human when talking to customers and potential customers. You can also offer better support than a larger company would. Customers really appreciate this.
- Do something you love and are completely kknowledgeable about.
- Think of how much funds you need and double it.
- Just because you work 20hrs a day don’t expect others to be as committed.
- Google and YouTube are the exceptions rather than the rule.
- You won’t be driving a Bentley this time next year
- Talk to as many people who can advise you as possible both in and out of your business area. Most people are happy to help and advise.
- Planning is important but don’t fall into the analysis paralysis trap. If in doubt, just do it. Carpe Diem.
- Have a strong vision but be prepared to admit you are wrong. If the market doesn’t bite, you are the problem, not them.
- There is plenty of state help out there. Engage with them as early as possible. Don’t wait until you are “ready”
- It is as stressful as hell but you should still be enjoying it. If you aren’t, then question your motivations.
Contracts! For added emphases I will say it again, contracts, contracts, contracts!
Treat the good ones well as they are the best advertising source you will ever need.
3. Finding an employee.
Nothing I can ever advise would be better then the gold contained within this article. If you are looking to hire someone read it. It helped me find two of the best guys I could ever hope for.
4. Cash flow
You have heard it a million times but Ryan Carson put together a practical example. Use it!
5. Design (of course I had to mention it )
Do you want your business to look like the BMW it is or to stick the BMW engine in the shell of a Lada. Both will get you on the road but which pulls the ladies. Look like the business you want to attract.
If anyone else has additional tips they want to suggest, then leave them in the comments.