Starting a business isn’t something you should do without some serious thought. Timing plays an important role in the success of a new venture, and I am sure there are lots of you that want to do something but either don’t have an idea or don’t have the resources & the right connections. A few of you even have ideas that are so far ahead of the curve that you would fail if you started now. The markets aren’t ready.
So what do you do while you are waiting? Most of you probably work a full-time job. I am a big fan of working a few years at a large company because you get the chance to learn some valuable things about process, procedures, and other ideas that you may need someday when your company grows. But be careful, don’t stay so long that you get twisted and think the corporate way to do things is the only way.
You probably have some free time while working a regular job, so use it wisely. Turn off the TV and spend your evenings to prepare for your entrepreneurial future and you will significantly increase your chances of success.
Here are the top 9 things I either did, or wish I had done, before I started my first business.
1. Become an Intrapreuner. Some entrepreneurial skills can be learned in a corporation (when the failure is on their dime instead of yours). Make it known that you want to lead a new effort, organize a team, do market research etc. Take it on even if it is extra work that you don’t get paid for. The experience will be invaluable.
2. Save money. Seriously. I know those of you that are fresh out of college want to spend some of your new-found wealth on a nice car or a cool vacation. And those of you that are older with families want to have nice stuff and private school and all that. Don’t. Be a miser. Save it and invest it so you can live off of it when you start your startup. Plus, it gives you a cost cutting mindset that will serve you well when your cash flow is limited.
3. Network, but do it wisely. Try out all kinds of local business group meetings. Listen more than you talk, and after a few visits you will begin to figure out who are the talkers, who are the doers, who has resources, and who has connections. Be careful, these meetings are full of people that want you to sell you a cheesy business opportunity, or that want to drag you into their dumb idea. Don’t fall for it. Figure out who really knows their stuff and get to know them better. I always try to talk to smart interesting people because they can teach me a lot. Plus I make mental notes about people I meet that have good skill sets to complement mine, in case I want to work with them someday.
4. Learn the Industry. If you already have your idea, learn as much as you can about the relevant industry. If not, just pick a few interesting ones to target. You would be surprised how many people have business ideas that won’t work, or already have lots of competition that they weren’t aware of because they knew nothing about the industry. Find people working in the industry and buy their lunch in exchange for a brain dump. (Everyone has to eat sometime.) Start a blog following industry topics. Even if no one reads it, writing will help you remember facts and clarify your ideas.
5. Experiment with Entrepreneurship. Learn why people fail. Learn what challenges you will face. Learn what is most important for new companies.
6. Read the books Starting Something and You Have to Be a Little Crazy. (and there are probably more good ones) Why? Because they present the dark side of entrepreneurship – the financial and relationship challenges it will bring, the stigma that may come from failure, the emotional rollercoaster involved – in other words, they help balance all those ultra positive “Entrepreneurship Rocks” idiots that are all over the web but have never started anything. The more prepared you are to take a few shots on the chin, the quicker you can get back up and fight. Plus, entrepreneurship isn’t for everyone. If you can’t deal with the downside, don’t do it. Many of the most successful entrepreneurs languished for years before finding the right path. You have to be ready for that.
7. Test the Waters & Build your Ecosystem. Run small scale experiments that validate your idea, you will learn a lot of things that will help you when you really launch. Don’t be afraid to build a prototype product or service and have a few people use it. They won’t steal your idea. And even if they did they probably couldn’t execute it. Most people that want to be entrepreneurs can’t even execute successfully, so don’t worry so much about spreading the idea around. Don’t worry if somebody tells you that somebody has already done it
8. Learn To Sell. I won’t say that every entrepreneur needs to sell, but most do, and they all need to understand the sales process. Nothing is more valuable than learning what customers want and how to deal with them. Yes, it can be uncomfortable, but you need to learn to sell. You will be selling your product to customers, your idea to investors, and your young struggling company to potential employees. Take a part-time job, help a friend who has a business, whatever it takes to get some selling experience.
9. Start working in a Coworking space. There are lot of coworking spaces which have weekend memberships. Spend your weekends in a coworking space . Try meeting like-minded people. Validate your idea. Try attending events in the space to find your co-founders.
Will love to know if you have anything else in mind.
If you want to validate your idea check out fhsidealab.com
Article written by Rajiv Mukherjee CEO & founder – Incubatehub