I was recently chatting with a friend of mine who expressed an interest in beginning his entrepreneurial journey. He asked me where he should start and thus, to the best of my ability, here is getting started as an entrepreneur 101.
Getting started always begins (read should always begin) with a problem that needs to be solved. In reality, it often begins with a ‘cool’ idea, but, from experience starting with a clearly identified problem is a much better bet. Once you have identified a problem you need to get out there and check that it is a real problem for someone. This basically means you need to start talking to people, lots of people, in order to qualify and quantify the value of that problem. If you are able to qualify and quantify that value of the problem then congratulations, you are really onto something.
Subsequent to identifying a problem, and qualifying and quantifying it you will typically need to start looking for resources that will allow you to turn the idea into reality. The two fundamental resources you will need are people and funding. Finding both of these resource will definitely keep you busy for a while. While there is a temptation to rush through this phase, good choices here will make the process of building and growing a company all that much easier so take your time to make good decisions.
Beyond an idea, and the resources to grow that idea into a business you need to be focussed on how you will communicate to, acquire, service and grow your customer base. Customers are the best source of funding and the sole determinant of success for a company so expect to be spending a lot of time on this one.
Starting and growing a company can feel very lonely but you should reach out to other entrepreneurs early and often. Other entrepreneurs are unique in having experienced what you are going through. More often than not, they are happy to share their advice and expertise.
Becoming an entrepreneur is a journey that typically doesn’t happen overnight. The saying goes that every journey begins with a single step, and for entrepreneurs that is never more true. Entrepreneurship is not a spectator sport, you just need to dive in and get started. Get out there and start talking about your idea, expose yourself to new opportunities and new people, and most importantly prepare yourself for a roller coaster journey. Welcome to a brave new world.