In the first part of this two part series, we spoke about getting ready for entrepreneurship and thinking about various aspects of how life is as an entrepreneur. You read about many things, from managing finances to stress management and the changes that you will need to face. In this part we talk about how to go about creating a plan, putting your ear to the ground and idnetifying what you need to learn and managing progress. Read on for more useful advice designed to help you in the transition from an employee to an entrepreneur.
Test Your Business Idea
There are many ways your business idea can be tested. And by testing we mean a low cost, low risk test. One of the most popular ways you can document and validate your business, starts with mapping your business idea on the Business Model Canvas or on the Lean Canvas. These two methods provide proven ways to explore the viability of your business idea and to identify the riskiest aspects of your idea.
You should try not to get caught up on the very first idea that comes to you. You should generate as many ideas as you can. Always cast a wide net to catch as many ideas as you can and then choose the best ones among them. Or in the words of Linus Pauling:
"The way to get good ideas is to get lots of ideas and throw the bad ones away."
Validate Your Business Plan
Once you have decided on an idea that you want to test, you should then work on validating the idea and the plan to bring the idea to life. Start small, create the cheaest and fasted experiment to validate your business plan. Don't waste the big bucks until you start seeing results from your experiements.
Get a Mentor / Advisor From Your Domain
An experienced entrepreneur who has himself gone through the process of dreaming-starting-running a viable new business, can tell you things that will not come to you even if you spend 10 years thinking of all the problems that you might encounter. Look for a mentor for who cares about you and what you are doing.
Even the most well meaning mentor who has zero experience in the industry you have chosen cannot help you as much as one who is from the a similar business area. Go mentor hunting in industry associations, business incubators that operate in your city. You ex-bosses are also excellent candidates for becoming your mentors.
Always interview your mentors just as you would interview early employees. Look for cultural and intellecual fit between you and your mentor.
The Story Of A Lone Entrepreneur Is A Myth
Your customers, investors, employees, share holders all believe that entrepreneurial teams that complement one another in capabilities are much more bankable than a lone entrepreneur burning midnight oil all by himself.
Get one or more partners who can become your founding team. It is impossible for one brain to think of and do proper justice to all the aspects of starting and building a profitable business. Look for those in your circles who you trust the most and among those look for those who have skills that you lack.
Another reason why you should build a founding team for your startup, is for the much needed support that only people sailing in the same boat can give to their fellow travellors. Hard times are inevitable in the life of a startup and having the backing and support of a trusted partner or a team can make all the difference.
Think About Yourself and What You Are Good At
Many of us go through life without ever discovering our strengths and core competencies. And a lot of us cannot see a glaring personal weakness if it punches us on the face. Now is the time to sit down and think of all the things that come naturally to you and those that you just hate doing (mostly because you feel you are not good at it).
Ask your friends, family, close colleagues three things that you are very good at and three things that you can improve up on. The answers that you get from your people might surprice you and might help you believe more strongly in yourself. In either case you will come out knowing more about yourself than before. Use this knowledge to determine what kind of skills your partners should bring to the table in your startup.
Read Like Your Life Depends On It
May be not your life, but your startup's life surely depends on what you know and what you are willing to learn. There are a lot of incredibly useful books out there that can teach everything that you need to do right to get your startup off the ground. Here is a list of 10 books that many have found invaluable when starting a new venture.
What Has Happened To This World
If you have been working in an organization, busy doing what is expected of you, you might find that the business world is very different from what you thought it is. This is largely because you are now at a completely different vantage point than when you were working for a big corporate company.
There are bound to be a lot of areas that you need to build from scratch, which you took for granted when you were working for a big corporate. Brand recognition is one such area. The logo on your visiting card is yet unknown, while earlier it opened a lot of doors for you when the logo was that of your employer. In many cases you might have to start at the lower end of the value chain and start buidling credibility.
Start Taking Advantage of the Vibrant Entrepreneur Community
In every major city there are a lot of events and active support systems that can help you learn critical entrepreneurship skills. Seek out and attend meetups, startup events, and talks by experienced entrepreneurs. Exchange cards, and follow up to make those fleeting connections stronger.
Acquire new skills
Business Accounting, Marketing, Sales, Business Model Verification, Customer Development, Market Segmentation are only a few of the functions you need to manage when building your startup. Even if you are an MBA you will still need to learn a lot of new areas that are not taught in business schools. Attend trainings, find a coach and learn new skills.
Yes!... You Are Your Own Boss. Oh no... You Are Your Own Boss
Being your own boss may not always be a good thing. One of the reasons being that now there is no one keeping track of your progress. No one to praise you during the scrum standup meetings and no one to take you to task for missed deadlines. Prepare details progress plans and put in a system in place to track progress. Have your partners assess your work, while you scruinize theirs. Set measurable goals and regularly review where you are going.
Fill Up Your Calender
In the initial days you will be spending a lot of time just waiting for things to happen. It is important to keep yourself busy and spend the time learning a new skill or a new tool.
Become a Master Planner and Make Execution Your Mantra
Plans are just good intentions unless implemented. Become action oriented and get cracking with the items on your todo list. Learn, learn and learn some more. Be your own supervisor and don't let yourself to slack off. And don't forget to have fun.