How to take prospective customers from ‘maybe’ to ‘yes’ in the customer acquisition journey The idea of customer acquisition is a powerful thing. Which business would not want to bring in more customers? However, founders with expansive customer acquisition plans may find themselves looking [...]
By Annie LUI On Ni
It is undoubtedly one of the most fulfilling adventures to start your own business, which can bring great rewards both financially and psychologically. For many people, entrepreneurship is their ultimate career goal.
The road to entrepreneurship is, however, often filled with unexpected detours, roadblocks and dead ends. There are times when plans don’t work out, funding doesn’t come through and customers never materialize. Entrepreneurs also experience more day-to-day stress.
Yet despite all these hardships, every year, thousands of entrepreneurs embark on this journey determined to bring their vision to reality and fill some gap they see in the market. If you are still determined to become an entrepreneur despite all the caveats, the following 6-step guide could be the final push to start your business.
Step 1: Assess Yourself
According to a study conducted by Professor William E. Jennings, these are the most important attributes for entrepreneurial success:
Steve Jobs, Co-founder of Apple Computer, Inc., once said, “I’m convinced that about half of what separates the successful entrepreneurs from the non-successful ones is pure perseverance.” Entrepreneurs carry on, learn from their mistakes and work it off, rather than getting discouraged at the first challenge and quitting.
Desire and Willingness to Take Initiative
Guy Kawasaki, founder of AllTop once said, “Ideas are easy. Implementation is hard.” Entrepreneurs make things happen, no matter how many tiny steps and adjustments need to be made to execute their visions.
“Chase the vision, not the money; the money will end up following you,” Tony Hsieh, CEO of Zappos, said. Entrepreneurs work to be the best in their field and to leave a legacy behind for the world. They see money as a side benefit, a bonus for doing a good job, rather than working only for the money.
“Any time is a good time to start a company,” said Ron Conway, Startup Investor, SV Angel. True entrepreneurs do not wait for a steady flow of funding or resources to start and keep running their businesses. They find various ways to raise capital and work to get additional funds.
A strong need to achieve
Steve Martin once said,“Be so good they can’t ignore you.” True entrepreneurs are achievement-oriented. They value accomplishment and the intrinsic rewards obtained from achieving difficult goals, rather than measuring success by others’ achievements and merits.
Step 2: Identify a profitable startup idea
- Ask your friends what annoys them.
Founders get inspiration from frustrations all the time. For instance, Andrew Kortina and Iqram Magdon-Ismail founded Venmo after they had trouble paying each other back by cheque.
With this in mind, ask your friends and families to keep track of the day-to-day things that annoy them. Then go through their lists and look for problems you might be able to solve.
- Look online
Checking out what other people have come up with can be very helpful to kick off your own thought process. Spend a few hours browsing through new apps, websites, and campaigns on Product Hunt and Kickstarter to keep yourself familiar with new offerings and their respective edges.
- Network with other entrepreneurs
Use Meetup or Eventbrite to find events in your local startup hub. Not only will networking help you build valuable relationships, but it will also give you lots of ideas. Simply by inviting a few entrepreneurial-minded people to have a brainstorming session, you can gain a lot of insightful yet disruptive answers that may lead to some great ideas.
Step 3: Validate Your Startup Idea
Before you go all in, you need to know how others will react to and interact with your products. Conduct interviews with your potential customers and show them a working demo of your product. Start with asking what they like and what they don’t, how much they are willing to pay for it, and so on.
Step 4: Secure Funding to Start a Business
- Ask your family and friends to invest in your business.
Many entrepreneurs rely on their friends and family for a seed round in exchange for a stake in your startup.
- Use a Crowdfunding Platform.
This method does more than just generating capital: it is also a form of collecting early product feedback and even raising brand awareness.
- Solicit venture capital.
Like angel investors, Venture Capital firms look for high-risk, high-return investments.
This is invaluable for startups with limited operating histories and high upfront costs, two factors which make it harder to acquire bank loans or government grants.
Step 5: Strategize Your Business
Every business begins with a strategy. After deciding your niche and business model, it is now time to prepare a clear business plan, including your business objectives and step-by-step strategies for achieving those objectives.
Having a business plan not only provides a direction to your business process and a benchmark for assessing growth, but it will also help potential investors to better understand your business–a key step to getting them on board.
Step 6: Networking
The founder of LinkedIn, Reid Hoffman, once said, “I networked my way to a couple of different venture capitalists”.
Networking can help you connect with prospective employees, future partners and even potential investors. Networking also helps you connect with potential customers either directly or through common connections.