When you think of a successful entrepreneur...
... maybe you think of someone who takes 5am morning jogs, consumes podcasts like hot chips, and who spouts the maxims of every start-up heavyweight.
All entrepreneurs most definitely do not fit this stereotype, but the one thing they have in common is energy, curiosity, and - most importantly - an unfailing drive. It’s this drive that helps them think outside the box to creatively confront the challenges that will inevitably arise as they grow their business.
No two days in the early stages of a business venture are the same, which means mistakes are made in turn. But where there are mistakes, there are lessons, so here are five of my top tips for budding entrepreneurs at the beginning of their business journey.
Don’t overcook your MVP
Ideally, your business is presenting a solution to meet a customer's needs. The first step is to make sure your product or service does just that. Do your market research, and talk to family, friends and strangers to gauge the viability of your idea. Start small and don’t get carried away trying to improve upon your minimum viable product (MVP) before you’ve assessed all your feedback. You want to avoid building a finished product before knowing if the customer needs it or even wants it.
Be objective as your company grows
Confirmation bias is rife amongst founders but it’s not the right way to build your business.
Your company may have started out to solve a problem, but society is always changing - and your business has to as well. Be prepared to adjust your offering if necessary, and always listen to those around you who know better about particular audiences and topics.
Learn when to say no, and when to say yes
As a founder, you’re passionate, and you’re likely to surround yourself with passionate people. This means great ideas for your product or service, as well as brilliant marketing strategies and content ideas. But knowing the right thing to focus on at the right time means you’ll deal with the most important pain points first, and you’ll be able to develop your product or service in a scalable way.
It’s important to know when to say no and when to say yes, because that’s how you maintain your own passion - and the passion of those around you.
Work towards three horizons
As they say, failure to plan means planning for failure. If your planning is sub-par, you’ll feel it later down the line.
What seems to work well is to have short, medium, and long-term goals in place and use these as the horizons you work towards. If you plan for the next 30 days, six months and three years, you have actionable tasks for right now, as well as a broader vision that will keep you and your employees motivated.
Being able to consider all of three horizons simultaneously can be difficult, but a core skill required for success.
Have confidence and humility in equal measure
Be confident enough to make the call, and humble enough to admit and learn from mistakes quickly. Entrepreneurs are successful because they are decisive and unafraid to take risks, but that means they also need to be resilient enough to deal with the blows they will inevitably be dealt. If you can integrate and implement these tips, being a founder will be much easier. Start-ups provide such a rich and varied learning experience and the rewards are unparalleled for those willing to take a risk. Whilst it goes without saying that there will be hard days, when you hit key milestones, there’s no better feeling.