Nowadays entrepreneurs have a romantic halo around them. Everyone wants to be an entrepreneur, though only a few will actually take the steps of becoming an entrepreneur.
Below are 5 steps to kickstart your entrepreneurial journey:
1. Be authentic/original
It starts with an idea. Always.
Ideation is a complex and multidimensional activity, and the most important aspect of entrepreneurship. The ideation stage is a creative process. It’s not only of generating ideas but also of evaluating the practicality and viability of the ideas. Ideas are relatively easy to generate and there are numerous ideas. Ideas by themselves have no value if they remain in the realm of thinking… the original and authentic thinking of execution is what will make the idea come to life.
Most of the entrepreneurship is making life better by saving time or effort. Entrepreneurship is seeing what everyone is seeing and yet being able to see problems or opportunities to make something better. It’s the ability and willingness to change the status quo. For example, cars are highly polluting. So electric cars are a solution to this. Entrepreneurs are spending considerable time on bettering cars in terms of safety, speed, fuel efficiency, luxury and driverless options.
As long humans exist, ideation will keep happening. Most of the ideation aims to improve the process by synthesising existing knowledge to new ways of thinking.
2. Work hard
Entrepreneurs need to work hard. Really hard.
Firstly, entrepreneurs need to work hard on unlearning things which appear right but are really wrong. For eg, ideas are dime a dozen but thinking of ideas that will work in real-world, or making the ideas work in real-world, is a different game altogether.
Second, entrepreneurs need to expand their expertise. Usually, people have expertise in one domain only. However, entrepreneurs need to work hard to gain a fair understanding of different domains including soft skills, marketing, finance, accounting, PR management, team building and statutory requirements. Hard work (and extended hours of work) is the new normal because of internet connectivity too.
Third, entrepreneurs need to sacrifice their family and leisure life. In the initial stages, startups demand a lot of your attention and commitment, and other sacrifices are essential.
Hard work is also critical because you will face multiple rejections. Customers will reject you, investors will reject you, talents you like to onboard reject you… So it takes lots of hard work and repeated efforts to find customers, investors, employees etc. The hard work appears not suitably rewarding too because in initial stages no monies are made. It’s faith and belief in oneself that will drive you to keep working.
In the real world, your plans rarely work. So going back to the drawing board and finding different solutions will take lots of energy. Sometimes you realise that your idea is not as great as it sounded earlier, so you need to alter or modify the idea to make it successful. This relentless effort to keep it going in spite of all the odds is the hidden aspect of true entrepreneurship.
3. Do your research
The quality of research will determine the ease of your journey. Deep research, not academically but from viability angle will be helpful. The best way to research is by idea validation. The best workable idea is on-boarded for market research and testing. Researching for latent demand works better than for apparent demand. People are a creature of habits and will rarely change their consumption patterns or buy new products. So researching to find the motive and price points is imp.
Researching the competition will also bring you immense insights. Focus on making sure what you think the competition is lacking has a big enough market. A well-entrenched competitor may offer your benefits at similar price points. Researching on price points, product benefits, market size, team building, company policies etc is much needed.
4. Build a team
The founders make or break the company.
Founders are responsible for getting a cofounder too. So the founding team members should have a cohesive value system and yet bring their own domain expertise to the table. The saying, “sum of the parts will be bigger than the whole” holds true here.
The founder and cofounders need to formalise and communicate their business mission statement and vision too. And the value system of the company needs to percolate to each team member. In the early stages, when team members are few, it’s easy to disseminate the values. As the team expands, pay special attention that the values don’t get diluted or miscommunicated.
Be careful – the values don’t seem important when the going is good. But when the going gets tough, it’s only your values and belief system that will keep pulling you upright.
Psst… Building the team is not restricted only internally to employees. Building an external team of dependable vendors, contractors, providers etc is most often neglected. Let your mission be known to all these so that a lasting relationship is built.
5. Path to profitability
Profitability is the blood flowing through the business.
Profits show that the business is alive and healthy.
Profits are necessary for survival and growth.
The quality and speed of profits determine if your business has future potential. Businesses are built to last, and so a steady and regular stream of profits is mandatory. These profits pay for the dividends, employees, office place, organic growth, the buyouts for inorganic growth and also drives up the valuation.
So for startups, the path to profits is very important. Until the time profits are not seen, you either raise funds by liquidating your equity or by pledging your equity. The slower the profitability, more equity is lost.
Remember: The monetisation of the business decides the business revenues. A detailed strategy needs to adopted to see the path of profitability.
Keep these 5 points in mind and kickstart your entrepreneurial journey! If you have any questions, write to me here: