Tips for entrepreneurs before starting a company

The author of this article (Kevin Colleran) gives us a some tips if we have the willingness to start a company.

Some entrepreneurs decide they want to start a company and then look for a big business idea while others begin by recognizing a market opportunity, personal pain point, or business need that inspires them to start a company.  Both of these paths towards business creation have the chance of leading to a successful outcome.

That said, a person who decides to become an entrepreneur before being inspired by a specific idea may be surprised how difficult it is to zero in on something specific.  Most of the best businesses that exist are unplanned accidents.  Many people who have all of the qualities of a successful entrepreneur will never find that perfect business idea and will instead suffer through many false starts and failed attempts.

There are several factors an entrepreneur should consider when choosing a business idea or opportunity to pursue.
Most companies evolve and adapt many times during their development so starting with a huge idea ignoring limitations or constraints allows more flexibility while pursuing the business opportunity.  One of my favorite examples of this is when Fred Smith had the idea to create Federal Express.  The enormous infrastructure, logistics, and resources that he needed to build before FedEx could deliver its very first package is daunting to think about even now.  Another example would be Elon Musk who simultaneously runs Tesla, an innovative electric car company as well as SpaceX which is building the world’s most advanced rockets and spacecraft — Talk about Big Ideas!

Go Big or Go Home. The sign of a true entrepreneur is somebody who is unafraid to think very big and go after a business opportunity that seems extreme or even daunting.  There are certainly opportunities to make money by building businesses that marginally improve on existing products or services but the real thrill of entrepreneurship sets in when the decision is made to go after an enormous idea that seems slightly crazy rather than playing it safe.

Make the World a Better Place. The best kind of entrepreneur is somebody who identifies and pursues a business that simplifies or improves the lives of many people.  A truly great company changes the world so much that people quickly take it for granted and forget how the world worked before the company’s product or service existed.  This kind of company can only be created if an entrepreneur repeatedly asks him or herself ‘what if’ when thinking about how the world works and how the status quo in any aspect of life could be dramatically improved.

This opportunity has never been greater than it is now thanks to technology.  Almost every aspect of life can be improved, simplified, or streamlined through the use of modern technology.  An entrepreneur should spend every day questioning how the time consuming or frustrating aspects of life could be reinvented.  Many people cannot remember a world before social networks like Facebook and Twitter were invented, or before they could turn to Amazon to purchase any item and have it delivered to their front door overnight.

Be The Right Person for the Job. It is always beneficial for an entrepreneur to pursue a business opportunity for which he or she is uniquely qualified.  Competition in any business is inevitable so the more expertise or preparation that an entrepreneur has to pursue the business opportunity, the better off they’ll be.  It’s challenging enough to be a first time entrepreneur and to start a company; you don’t want to worry about learning a new industry or market at the same time.  When deciding what business opportunity to pursue, every entrepreneur should first consider what skill he or she is uniquely positioned to exploit.  The expertise or strategic advantage could come from prior careers, education, life experiences or hobbies.  It is important to be able to answer the question, ‘Why Me?’

Timing. Timing can be one of the most uncontrollable aspects of determining success from failure when creating a business.  Many entrepreneurs have missed out on fame and fortune because they had the right business idea but they started their business either too early or too late for the market to embrace the product or service.  It’s been said that ‘luck’ is the result of preparedness meeting opportunity… I would argue that timing would be the third ingredient needed in that recipe for success.  The perfect time for a specific business could be dictated by consumer interest, technology, environment, government or many other factors.  When an entrepreneur is considering business opportunities, ‘Why Me?’ should be the first question they ask themselves (as mentioned above), followed immediately by ‘Why Now?’

Fail Fast. This piece of advice is becoming more relevant especially in the fast paced technological world in which we all live.  It used to take years to get a business off the ground and figure out if it was destined for success or failure.  Historically, due to the long development cycle and slow feedback loop from customer an entrepreneur would have limited chances to restart with a new product or company due to resources or age.

Now, thanks to technology and the internet, the fate of many new businesses becomes clear very quickly.  Luckily, as the overall startup costs needed to launch a new business decline and markets move much more quickly, it has become easier to test new business and product ideas without such devastating consequences of failure.  In fact, many seasoned entrepreneurs would argue that the best skills and lessons a new entrepreneur can gain come from experiencing and learning from previous business failure.

Pivot Quickly. Similar to the lesson of failing fast, many of the most successful companies in the world exist in a current form that is entirely different from how they were first envisioned. I would argue that there are very few companies that ended up actually following the business plan on which they were based.  Because of this, the first idea that an entrepreneur chooses to pursue with a business is likely just a starting point for what the company will iterate or pivot to become.  A successful entrepreneur will have the vision and instinct to realize when a company is moving in the wrong direction or is missing a much larger related business opportunity. Therefore, the potential of the entrepreneur, the strength of the team, the resources available, and the determination to build a successful business are much more important ingredients that the original business plan”

(Source: The Wall Street Journal)

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Posted in Business
4 comments on “Tips for entrepreneurs before starting a company
  1. jjaggie says:

    Kevin, I think we are preaching the same thing here! I have so many friends that have “great ideas” that they want me to pursue while they keep that comfortable day job with pay. Then when I get it rolling, they will jump in with me. Sorry, does not work that way!

    It takes many factors to be an entrepreneur with a short memory of pain being near the top of the list. I look forward to following and seeing more. Peace.

  2. Joey Corpora says:

    Reblogged this on Joey Corpora.

  3. […] Tips for entrepreneurs before starting a company […]

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