Start-up entrepreneurship is an enticing journey: you carve your own path towards success, become your own boss, and tell your rags-to-riches story. It takes discipline and commitment combined with focused direction. But where do you start? Maybe you’ve got the drive, but not the direction—or maybe you’ve got a direction without a particular destination? We’ve gathered some tried-and-true advice to give you a step up in entrepreneurship:
1) Find the pain. Identify a bottleneck somewhere—an abrasive point in a given system that is just rubbing a particular group of people the wrong way. When you can identify one, then you can form a potential idea.
2) Never lose focus of the solutions. Being an entrepreneur means being a problem solver. (Note: the problem you’re solving is never “Money”). Think of your ability to solve problems as a fitness level: something you need to constantly hone and keep in shape. Every problem must be met as an obstacle that needs overcoming—whether you’re dealing with customers or you’re dealing with the internals of your start-up business. Adapt, solve, and move on.
3) Don’t hold back: especially when it’s time to critique yourself. Brutal honesty, whether it’s about your marketing strategy or your deliverables, is invaluable if you wish to leap and bound through improvements. This goes double if you’re in the service industry: you MUST be easy to work with. And you MUST be willing to change in those areas that you need to. Be the type of entrepreneur that will go slightly beyond scope to get things taken care of for the customer.
4) Convenience and simplicity are the nuts and bolts of any kind of start-up. Whether you’re offering a service or a product: from food to tech, this is what will make people want to pay. Great solutions are often overlooked by big clients because they’re more expensive to implement than to simply let the problem continue.
5) Big things have small beginnings, so don’t be afraid to start small. It may be only a $200.00 starter contract, but the I-can-trust-you-to-do-this-well currency is far more valuable than USD in the long-run. Small contracts often turn into substantially larger, ongoing business relationships.
6) Always make yourself the business owner. You’ll run into times where you’ve collected you’re payment and are now just muddling through to half-heartedly get the work done. Visualizing that you’ve actually bought the company will motivate you to do the work much differently—and that kind of enthusiasm will definitely be reflected in the end results.
7) Pick & choose your clients. Customers that are one-man-teams with similarly low budgets, for example, can make every dollar you receive feel like a hundred, placing unneeded pressure on your own business model.
1) Your education means squat to potential clients (and investors). People just want to know whether you can solve the problem or not.
2) Don’t worry about the future: today’s troubles are enough for today.
3) Stay clear of getting sucked into endless podcasts and “entrepreneur self-help.” The content is endless and wastes valuable time when you could be getting things done.
4) In any particular skill, teach yourself enough to move forward. You’ll learn by taking bite-size chunks, not trying to force the whole feast down your gullet.
5) An idea aloe is completely worthless, it’s only what you do with it that adds value to it.
6) Your ideas are not (nor will they be) unique. First focus on execution—then when you actually have something to protect, do it.
Take these tips to heart and carry them with you as you strive towards success, whether it’s in Silicon Valley, selling eBooks, or opening an ice-cream shop. If you listen, this advice will take you far.