Many of us would love to be our own boss. Do work that we are passionate about, that would make a difference, that is related to something near and dear to our heart.
However, not many of us have that liberty.
With the new wave of entrepreneurship, there is a new rise of ingenious tools that can help an average layman quickly adapt to some of the complications of running a business from scratch. Essentially, all you need is a workable product/service idea and you are ready to go!
But is that all there is to becoming an entrepreneur?
Research before you start(-up)
Fools rush in.
You’re all excited to become an entrepreneur and your own boss, but do you know what you really need to know before you can begin?
Perhaps you may have a general idea, but businesses are expensive mistakes! Many people encourage entrepreneurship and allowing yourself to make mistakes, but not every lesson must be learnt at a cost.
Here’s 5 important business researches that you must do before starting your business venture.
Do Your (Product) Research
Before you even think about setting up a business, you need to have a viable product. Do some online research about popular products and current trends to find out what’s hot at the moment.
If you already have a unique idea in mind, then that’s even better!
But just because you have an idea of a product, doesn’t mean you actually have…a product. If you are using an existing product it will be easier then inventing something from scratch, but then you’d have to justify its Unique Value Point (UVP).
Why should customers buy your product over those already available? What service does your business provide them that stands above what is already available?
Know your competition.
And then answer this crucial question: how sustainable is it for your company to create/source for the product and sell to your target audience?
All this is only the planning before the start of your business. Staying competitive means having a good R&D department…but let’s not go down that rabbit hole just yet.
Do Your (Market) Research
Before you start touting the benefits of your super product, you need to get an idea of how much demand to expect.
Talk to your potential customers.
It doesn’t matter how niche you think your product is – talk to the people in the business and even some of the general public to see how welcomed your product would be.
Get an idea of what they want as well as what they expect on hearing about your product. And of course, how much they are willing to pay.
Remember, the rule is to price according to demand, not cost.
Most importantly, find out what connects you with your target market. Find a way to speak to them and address their concerns and needs.
Just because you know that they are going to love your product doesn’t mean that they know it!
Do Your (Law) Research
Perhaps one of the greatest obstacles in the way of entrepreneurs is the lack of understanding surrounding the laws and regulations of starting a business.
Is it going to be a sole proprietorship? A limited partnership (LP)? A limited liability partnership (LLP)?
What are the laws regarding these types of businesses? And what structure would be best for the business you have in mind in terms of flexibility and scalability?
Be sure to check out the types of business structures available in your country, and decide on how you want to structure your business.
Government websites are the best source of information on this front, so be sure to check out your local authority!
Do Your (Financial) Research
Not all of us are accountants (or even good at numbers). However, once you go into business, you’ll know that it is mainly a numbers game.
Outside of getting investors and raising capital, there is the crucial daily obligation to track business cash flow.
This isn’t just to give you an accurate idea about how much profit/loss you are making, but to ensure that you are not incurring more costs than necessary. (Also file that pesky but necessary tax form)
This goes hand in hand with tracking inventory – nobody wants to deal with the confusion that results from a missing product!
One of the easiest ways to deal with the company’s finances is to have a business credit card. By having all the purchases on one card, there will already be a clear record of what has or has not been purchased.
The small effort of shopping for a suitable business credit card and account would remove the HUGE headache of sorting personal and business purchases at the end of the month.
Make sure to manage your credit rating well. After all, having a good credit rating will open doors to better loans and interest rates. (You also don’t want to ruin your own personal credit rating that you’re likely to be using for your start-up at first.)
Do Your (People) Research
As a founding member of a start-up, you will wear multiple hats. All the hats, in fact. It may sound awesome, having all those big C-level titles under your name, however, with great titles comes great responsibilities.
Unfortunately, there will still be things that you do not have the time or skills to do.
At this point, it is important to pick your partners with care.
The most ideal combination of partners are those who have skills that you don’t. Preferably with minor overlapping skills so that they can also wear a couple hats for you.
It’s true that you will find yourself juggling a role or 3 many times at the start (who doesn’t?), but as stated, you can’t do everything yourself. Make sure to find people who can do the core jobs that your business definitely need to run on, like product development or sales.
And for all else? Get interns. (They’re cheap and willing to learn)
Many people advice not to work with friends because of the potential for mixing personal and business conflicts, but there are ways to pre-empt such trouble.
Signing a contract is a great way to clarify the terms of agreement. Consult a lawyer if you want it to be airtight and prevent future contentions.
In the end, all this comes down to 3 things: Be fair and professional at work, contribute as much as you can, and don’t quibble over small issues.
Making it work
You’ve gotten a product, you’ve surveyed the market, you registered your company, and settled the accounts. You’ve even started hiring people!
Congratulations on taking the first step in entrepreneurship…
…that was the easiest step.
Many people think that a business just needs a good foundation and structure and once everything is set up, it will run itself.
Unfortunately, that is not the case at all!
Many business die within the first 3 months due to neglect and poor planning. Despite the, frankly, enormous amount of research you have put into your business plan, you will find that not everything goes according to plan.
There will be plenty of unanticipated problems, debugging and troubleshooting in the first year.
Even with extensive research, you’ll never be sure whether your business plan works until you’ve put it to the test. Business plans are always evolving to fit the situation, so make sure that your plan (and company!) is flexible enough to change tracks once you discover that something isn’t working.
A few words of advice…
Here’s some helpful advice from entrepreneurial bigwigs who have been through the wringer of starting up.
“Optimization simply means that you take a bunch of little things that don’t seem to be a very difficult to change and all of those little changes have a multiplying effect and you get a giant change from all of those tiny changes.” – Tony Robbins
Owning over 30 companies, #1 peak performance coach Tony Robbins is certainly in a position to advice on being, not just your own boss, but a boss. (Check out his Wealth Mastery Program in October this year)
Learn to optimize your business and make sure that you don’t end up spending a chunk of your valuable time settling all the “little things”.
If you find that these “little things” are taking up too much of your time, hire an assistant. You should focus on the things that only you can do, while delegating the jobs that anyone can do.
Who knows? You might end up owning 30 companies one day!
“Don’t expect things to be handed to you or for doors to open up when you want them to. You have to be a go-getter and if you aren’t one, you better learn how to become one.” – N. Patel
Neil Patel is one of the most successful serial entrepreneurs in the world, having co-founded Crazy Egg, Hello Bar and KISSmetrics – all successful businesses in their own right. He is a thought leader in the field of digital and content marketing and has a lot of great advice about how to SEO a blog or implement content writing on his blog.
However, one of the best advice he has given is the above quote. It’s sad to say, but many aspiring entrepreneurs think that setting up a business is easy.
It’s not. At all.
No matter how great an idea you have, it’s not going to sell itself. Learn to open doors for yourself through networking. That means approaching people no matter how shy you are and selling them your idea.
You might fancy yourself a Creative and have absolutely no interest in turning into a salesperson, but at the end of the day, selling your idea is one of the skills you absolutely must have.
If you’re too shy, either get over it or get a regular job.
“I look at only two things when angel investing. Are you solving an important problem? Do you care about the end users?” – Gary Vaynerchuk
The founder of VaynerMedia as well as an acknowledged thought leader in the field of social media marketing, Gary Vaynerchuk (affectionately known as Gary Vee) is also known for encouraging fellow entrepreneurs.
Not just through his inspiring (and oftentimes explicit) words, but through cold, hard capital funding.
His perspective as an angel investor is a very important point that most entrepreneurs fail to take into account. What appeals to an angel investor?
Don’t sell a business just for its profitability, sell a cause.
Psst! Gary Vee is going to be at the National Achievers Congress (2018) in Singapore this year! Do you think that you have a business idea worth investing in? Find out more from Gary Vee himself about what else he looks at when investing.
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