“If you are not willing to risk the usual, you will have to settle for the ordinary.”
– Jim Rohn
The topics of startups and entrepreneurship have been trendy topics for a while now. It doesn’t really depend on the circumstances. Actually, under tough conditions like the current pandemic, the idea of entrepreneurship has become more relevant to the people. A lot of people lost, what at first glance seemed to be stable, jobs. They started considering options where they could be in charge of their future and career. In other words, started considering building a startup from scratch.
As a result, we kept seeing tons of queries online asking how to know if you are ready for the wild life of an entrepreneur. Thanks to those queries, this blog is being born. Don’t get us wrong, there are plenty of responses that are saying how to know if you are ready for it or not. That’s not the reason behind this blog. We got triggered by the people who kept claiming that: “If you are doubting that you can’t start a business – you are not ready.”, or “You will never be ready to start a business.”.
We simply do not agree with that.
Yes, you can’t be ready for every single step of the business process, but it doesn’t mean that you are not equipped to build something that it is yours. It is similar to everything in your life. You are never very sure but most of the times it is worth it to risk and try. Being in doubt is very human. But it is a safety mechanism that made to stop you from doing something way too silly.
Becoming an entrepreneur is not going to be easy and most of the people don’t have guts for it.
We are not trying to scare you but entrepreneur’s life actually looks a bit something like this:
But if you are thinking about becoming an entrepreneur, not because it is trendy, but because the startup idea you have keeps haunting you, we think you should give it a try.
We can’t be someone who is going to pat you on your back and kick you to the mad life of an entrepreneur. Instead, we can provide you with a list of things that you should consider before starting a startup.
You have to be not only a dreamer but a doer
There are dozens of articles, posts and so on, saying that you have to be a dreamer in order to become an entrepreneur. That is only partially true.
It is not enough to sit around and dream about your startup and hope for the best. You might know where are we going with this. Having an idea is simply not enough. You have to be able to take action.
And usually, all the first steps are the hardest. The fear of taking the first step is the main thing that undermines your dreams. It’s precisely in that first step where most people get stuck because fear takes a hold of you.
Maybe we are just traumatised by the experience when we were trying to walk for the first time? What happened? We fell flat on our faces. We want to avoid that painful fall and be more careful, so we get paralysed by the fear.
However, if you face your fears, then they will magically vanish. Not all of the fear far from it. But as soon as you take the first step, you’ll most likely end up realizing that you’re a lot more proficient human than you thought you were.
But you have to start one step at the time. Have a list of palpable steps. Many young entrepreneurs decide to skip this step and concentrate on the part what they want to reach. Become a millionaire before they turn twenty-something, buy a Lambo, befriend Musk. On a more serious note, entrepreneurs don’t really think through how the goal could be reached. We are going to talk about the other reasons why is it important to have a plan later, but for now, let’s unravel other soft skills that you have to work on if you want to start a startup business.
You have to be able to motivate yourself and know how to be your own boss
As we have mentioned, taking the first step is always extremely hard. Especially when it is your dream. You feel more vulnerable.
But as most of us are aware, keeping up the enthusiasm, motivation and keep up the work, at the later stages of the business, is not that easy either.
If you are planning to start a startup from scratch, you have to be able to motivate yourself and keep the creative and managerial flow going at the every stage of the process.
It is not going to be like a typical office job in a corporate company. You won’t be able to leave your job at the office desk. At least at the early stages of the company.
You are going to sleep, wake up, have a shower with your startup – it is going to be following you everywhere you go. You will have to learn how to separate your private and work life. Create a balance of some sort. Learn how to relax in order to avoid burnout.
The balance should be a key aspect in every step of your life. Work balance is a must and you should do everything to maintain it.
You know, we have a tendency to cut ourselves more slack or sometimes, being harsher on ourselves. If you want your startup to succeed, you have to plan and divide responsibilities. Yeah, plan. As we said, planning is crucial. Plan your work and make sure to meet the deadlines like everyone else. Especially if you have managed to build a startup from scratch you might think that you have some sort of immunity. No. You can’t think that you should be treated differently. If you fail to meet the deadline, you should be facing the same circumstances as others. As to begin with, it was your job to plan everything in the way that you would be able to finish things on time.
Remember, you have a team for a reason. If you see that you are drowning in your workload, ask if someone else who is less busy to give you a hand. And of course, if your team members are struggling, make sure to split their workload too. It is not shameful if you can’t finish something, it has nothing to do with damaging your ego. But it is going to damage your company if you will leave tasks dragging behind.
We keep touching the surface of how important planning is but not fully explaining why and how to plan. So let’s dive into that!
Plan your business
We have been talking about this in previous blogs but let’s start this paragraph with a bit of statistics on why startups fail:
Most of these reasons like – running out of cash, having the wrong team, lack of business model, poor marketing etc. – they all have to do with lack of planning. What are the main things you have to plan? Let’s check it out.
You might be sick already of the word “planning” but it all begins with planning. Or it should. Startups fail because of the lack of short-term and long-term planning. In other words, they don’t sit down and write a business plan.
It doesn’t matter if you are building a startup from scratch or joining a startup, the goal is to keep your business plan compact. Don’t treat it like a university essay. Leave writing a 50,000-word business plan to academics. Let them waste their time.
You can do an excellent business plan in one or two pages. And do not copy someone else’s business plan. Please! It is a shortcut to failure. You should check out some awesome books on business plans such as “The Secrets to Writing a Successful Business Plan” and “Successful Business Plan“ instead.
Writing a business plan yourself, or at least being part of the process, will help you to understand your business better. You will understand your competitors, your customers and in the worst-case scenario, you will know what is your exit strategy is. Starting a startup from scratch without a business plan is like trying to tame a lion with your bare hands without any previous training. So, unless you are crazy enough to fight a truly unfair fight, please plan out your business.
Planning your team
In one of our blogs, we were uncovering the importance of the right team. It seems pretty straight-forward but many entrepreneurs wait until things go wrong, then struggle to get people to fix it.
The people you choose to work with have the ability to make or break your business.
Here we have to think about the business plan once again. You simply can’t escape it.
Do not try to cover every single position at once and hire a bunch of people that are not yet needed. Think about it step by step, try to visualise your future. What is needed now and what will you need later.
Are you just starting off and just about to make your product/service palpable? Then you should be thinking about marketing and sales personnel to move your business into the awareness stage (it is a stage where you are turning people from complete strangers into people who are aware that you exist and might become your future customers).
If you are slowly making your way up from the awareness to conversion stage (the stage where you convinced your potential customer that YOU have the solution to their problem and they are becoming your actual customer), then you should be looking at customer service, accounting etc.
So take your time, think about what kind of people you will need for every stage of your business. Believe us, it is going to save your head from premature balding.
Save up money
It comes as a surprise for some entrepreneurs, but you need money to build a startup from scratch. You have to put money in if you want to make money. Simple.
There is a quite a bunch of young wannabe entrepreneurs who think that they are going to quit their 9 to 5, start a business with 50 bucks and become a millionaire overnight. It is a wild guess, but we think it got caused by those youtube stars who are feeding others their semi-fake stories of how you can build an empire with a fiver in your pocket.
Money gives you freedom and flexibility, but there is another thing which is more important than that. When you have some sort of income and you are sure that you are not going to end up on the street, you will be willing to risk more.
Why is that? You feel safer. You feel more sure when testing various strategies out. Because you know that even if this time it is not going to succeed, you will have some cash coming in next month that is going soften the fall. Starting a startup from scratch involves a lot of testing which is pure trial and error.
Or you might be thinking that you are going to find an angel investor in the first week because your startup idea is that good. Yeah, that’s not that simple. And that money is for your business, not for your pocket. You will have to give reports to your investor. And what that report is going to say? 1000 euros for burgers and fancy trainers. Not very professional, huh? Do not mix-up business money with your own personal money. It is a huge mistake that some people do.
You will have to learn a lot
Running a business might seem quite simple from the perspective of an outsider. You write a plan, rent an office, hire a bunch of professionals and tell them what to do. Actually it is not that simple.
To build a startup from scratch is a constant learning process. You will have to dip your toes into everything: marketing, communication, fundraising, HR and all other things. Yes, you can and must build a team. But you need the know-how. As a business owner, you need to be aware of what is the right person for your startup and must be able to communicate that to others.
Once you have your dream team, you must know what is your goal and what has to be done. And not to only know but once again, you must know how to explain it to others in a clear manner. Remember, no one can read your mind and you are at the driver’s seat now.
We have been praising planning in this blog but not everything goes as planned. I hope you are not too shocked by this news. As a result, you will have to know how to find and fix the problem before it is too late. And more importantly, keep your calm as well as be able to calm others.
We are only touching the surface of what every entrepreneur will have to learn because to dive deep into this topic would require a separate blog. But we have mentioned the most important aspect – you have to be ready to be flexible and open to constant change.
Being an entrepreneur is a true challenge especially if you have decided to build startup from scratch. At every single step of the process, you might be facing failure and success. In the beginning, you might experience more failure than the latter, but in most cases, building a startup is a really fulfilling experience. Let’s end this blog on a bit of a cheesy note, as Aristotle allegedly said: The roots of education are bitter, but the fruit is sweet. That’s how it feels to start a startup, you will be damning the universe once you will start, but once you succeed – it is pure bliss.
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