Starting a new business can be a daunting yet exciting task. There are many reasons why you may want to start your own business. Perhaps you want to work for yourself, you lost your job or want to earn some extra money. No matter what the reason, there are some considerations that are vital before deciding to take the plunge.
The business idea has to be something different. But this doesn’t mean you have to invent something completely unknown to the world. It can be something as simple as doing something in a different way (better, easier, simpler, more enjoyable, etc). You should be clear about what you will do differently and then keep these things as guiding principles as you develop your business. It can be as simple as “make sure that every phone call is answered within ten seconds.” Lots of little things like that can add up and create that special user experience. Make someone’s life easier or more enjoyable and they will pay you for it! This is true for both products and services.
As an example, when we were developing Clutterpad, there were literally hundreds of project management and collaboration tools out there. However, none of them quite got it right (we went through quite a few ourselves for our own projects). They were either overcomplicated and bloated so things became difficult or they were far too simple to be of any use.
For us, we needed a tool that has just enough features that would make the tool of great use without making it complex and bloated. It had to have the features that most people need without compromising on ease of use and intuitiveness. If that wasn’t enough, we also decided that the tool has to look good (how can you sit in front of a piece of software all day if it looks ugly?), work with you and not against you, do things using fewer clicks, be easy to use and give a top user experience.
With all these guiding principles, we ended up with a product that is is not just about one thing: it is about all the many little things that come together to make a great user experience. Whenever the team disagreed on how something should be done, we referred the matter back to the guiding principles; very often, it was then easily solved.
Without passion expect to fail. Passion for your product or service will shine through. It’s something you can never hide. You must enjoy what you are doing. When we were developing Clutterpad, we needed a tool to help us with our own work. So we had reason to make the product perfect. Now we are using it day and night in our own projects and so, if there is a way to improve it we make sure we explore it.
When you have passion for the things you offer your customers, this passion will be transferred to them too. They will become your evangelists who will help to spread your product too. I can’t emphasize the need for passion enough. If you don’t feel for your product or service, find another business!
Starting a business takes a lot of energy and time. Running and managing a business takes longer. Don’t think it will get easier. It is more than working 9-5. If you are thinking of starting a business to gain extra time, forget it.
Most business owners find that as the business gets bigger, they are required to work more, not less. At the beginning you have to launch; then you have the customer service, invoicing, etc. The more customers, the more work.
Think of it like this though: if you enjoy your work (see the section above on Passion), why would you want to do less of something you enjoy? If you don’t enjoy it, find something else to do!
A great long term benefit to you is to try to get your business off the ground without any outside investment. With the advent of the internet, you can start many different types of businesses without much capital. Think about the long run. Venture capitalists are often vultures. They will often demand huge returns (in return for trusting an untested business venture) and are a huge ‘overhead’ for the founders of the business. There are many horror stories out there about venture capitalists, some even planning in advance to get rid of the founders once the business takes off. I’m sure they’re all not like that but make sure that you get a lawyer if you do decide to go that way.
Keep Your Job
Startups take time and effort. The time it takes for a new business to start making profit can vary but usually it takes around three years for a lot of industries. This can put financial strain on the founders and has in the past, very often, led to the actual collapse of new businesses. The reason for this is quite obvious: you have to pay your bills! Startups usually take time to get to the stage where you can start relying on them to pay your bills. For this reason, a great piece of advice is to try to do your business initially as a side thing; after work. Yes this is a difficult thing to do but with the passion that you have (see above) it certainly can be done and, in the long run, usually works out much better.
This strategy also involves less risk: if things fail, you can always stay at work. Ironically, it also means that you can take greater risks where it counts: trying different things in the business without fearing too much repercussion as you won’t be relying on your startup for your initial earnings.
They say that this is one of the greatest keys for success. Very often, it is simply about waiting it out. Businesses take time to develop; customers will try what you have on offer and inform others; marketing campaigns take time to come into fruition. Without patience don’t expect success.
Keep these tips in mind before starting a new business and you will hopefully see your business grow and eventually reap the fruits from it.