Or an aspiring entrepreneur, for that matter.
I had an idea that I wanted to implement and turn it into a business; Not for the sake of just starting up, but that I wanted to manifest my idea by building it and getting it into the market. That sounds easier than it actually is. Here are the things I learned while going through a lot of processes. I still haven’t built the product, mind you. But these lessons are invaluable and saves you a lot of time.
10 lessons for every entrepreneur, and every aspiring entrepreneur –
1. One Is Always Good.
In the beginning, you might have a lot of amazing ideas to work on. You might feel that gut instinct which tells you that you can build two or more products and run them simultaneously. Don’t listen to it.
No, your gut isn’t always right. So stick to one good idea that you have; build your company; then think about other products / services.
2. Plan A, B, C, D, etc.,
You could have a fool-proof plan as to what path you want your business to take; Or HOW you want your business to start making money. Chances are, that plan isn’t going to work. Atleast not how you want it. So, strategize and build other plans.
Say, your plan is to build a prototype, show it to the investors who you sort of know, get them on-board and build the company.
That might not happen, so your plan B should be to be crowd-funded, build a company. Plan C could be to be funded by family, or friends; then build the company. ANYTHING!! Point is to have multiple plans.
3. Yin and Yang.
The underlying lesson behind the yin and yang symbol, is that two cosmic forces which are opposite in nature, are actually complementary.
Now what it means in the startup world is that you could be an engineer; So you don’t NEED an engineer co-founder (if you’re looking for a co-founder, that is). Chances are, you might not be good at finances, marketing and the other non-engineering stuff that is required in a startup. So you need a person who is unlike you; someone who has what you don’t.
If you’re good at both aspects, then good for you. But if you’re going to spend a lot of time in the engineering department, it’s best to get a non-engineer person on-board.
4. Investors Invest In People.
Ofcourse, they invest in the idea too; but a major chunk is because they are convinced that YOU and your TEAM is going to pull it off. So, build your team carefully. It can make, or break your company.
Oliver Emberton, an English entrepreneur, had a non-engineer person as a co-founder and he was great; given that he was a kickass salesman and an excellent communicator. Later he ended up punching Oliver in the face during a board meeting and things took a wrong turn. Oliver knew what his co-founder was, but didn’t stop him anyway, because he sorta needed him.
So, build your team carefully and wisely. You can judge people better than you think you do.
5. Marketing Is Not Just For The Products You Make.
Ever watched the “Think different” advertisement that Steve Jobs made in 1997?
Here’s a link to the advertisement. Think different ad 1997.
The whole video NEVER showed anything about the products Apple made. It represented what the company stood for and what the people running the company believed in. That is when people establish a deep connection with your products. That is when they feel really good about the product even when it’s really expensive! *cough*iPhone*cough* .
So keep that in mind the next time you want to rant about the billion features your product has by making a billion ads about it.
6. Market Research.
So you have your big idea and you think it’s really practical, it solves the number one problem faced by humanity, OKAY!!
Now confirm that! And the only way to do that is to talk to your potential customers. I’ve already covered how to approach potential customers in my previous posts, but this is just a reminder that you NEED to do that.
I initially had an idea that I thought was brilliant and perfect. Then I spoke to random people in the park about my idea and what they would change in that idea if they had the chance. And they did give me significantly awesome inputs. I ended up talking to the former C.E.O of Mallya Hospital and he gave me his input as well, and that is when I realized that my idea was actually, totally flawed and I had to restructure the idea itself.
7. Time Is A Valuable Resource.
Even when you set the due date to build the prototype, one year from now, it will fly by in a jiffy in the startup world.
Just make the most of everyday. Nothing must be postponed, unless there’s no other friggin way! This is something that most entrepreneurs will tell you. So heed it.
8. Build A Brand, Not A Company.
Why do we prefer Levi’s instead of some local denim cloth, even though both products’ quality is pretty much the same?
Why do we want to go eat at McDonald’s even though a similar burger shop is open just across the road and costs less?
It’s because the good, smart companies invest their money in building a brand, as they expand. Once you start turning customers into fans, then your company will flourish. This is why you don’t find posters of Christopher Nolan’s movies on the walls beside the sidewalk.
9. Discussing Your Idea.
You might think that if you discuss your idea with people, then they will steal that idea and use it to build their own. Believe me, you are nowhere close to the truth! Discussing your idea with who you want to discuss it with will widen your gaze, and pull you back down to earth with their opinions and their insights about why your idea might not be the best. You could use that criticism to restructure your idea into something that is really cool. No one will steal your idea. Even if that thought crosses their mind, they will find a reason not to pursue it.
This might not be the case once you enter the industry, but at the initial stages, it’s nothing to worry about. The pros of discussing your idea with people outweigh the cons.
10. Cash Flow.
It might not bother you at the initial stages once you have some sort of funds to get you through the first quarter, or the first two quarters. But, watch your finances. Make sure they don’t run out right when you reach the peak. Then, you will have to build your finance from scratch and break your head with that in order to take that ONE more step to succeed ; which would’ve happened if you paid more attention to finance in the first place.
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