Ready to start the next chapter of your life as an entrepreneur? Here’s how to get started…
Entrepreneurship is highly attractive for many reasons. If it’s time you did something different this could be the best life move you ever make. These are the first steps you’ll want to make.
1) Learn What it Means & Decide if You are Still Willing to Pursue it
Entrepreneurship has become very trendy. That doesn’t mean it is just a trend, but there is a lot more to succeeding with a hot startup than writing a few lines of code.
First understand the differences between becoming your own boss as a freelancer, opening a small business, and launching a true fast growth startup that becomes valued at billions of dollars.
Learn what a startup entrepreneur really does. They don’t really get to continue on with their favorite hobby every day and make billions doing it. You may start doing something you love, but then have to very quickly learn to become a leader in your business. Become a business owner, evangelist, professional fundraiser, negotiator and big deal maker.
Even with 100 plus employees working for you, you’ll need to master many new roles. You may or may not still be your own boss at this company in a few years. Either way, you will be very busy. This isn’t really a four hour work week squeezed around your full-time gig of hiking the world and lounging at fabulous resorts.
With all that said, out of all the successful entrepreneurs I’ve interviewed on the DealMakers podcast, none of them want to go back to a regular job. The big question is do you have what it takes?
You can learn just about any of the leadership skills you’ll need. What you’ve got to bring to the table is relentless grit, the determination to never quit, and the ability to keep going no matter how hard, stressful or desperate things become along the way.
If you’re still interested in becoming an entrepreneur, here’s what you do next.
2) Pick a Business Idea
If you’re entrepreneurial you probably have ideas all the time. Which one will you get started on?
If you are juggling a few business ideas pin them up on a board. Let them marinate for a week. Which can you live without doing? Which were you born to do?
Most highly successful entrepreneurs are just quitting jobs they hate to try and become their own boss, have an easy work week, get rich quick and live in semi-retirement for the rest of their lives.
The most successful startups seem to share the trait that the founder found a problem they really wanted to solve, in a very big industry, and found several other great team members who were passionate about it too. They looked forward to building something from scratch even though they were typically in good-paying jobs they already loved or were in a good college.
Before you go all in, make sure you research your idea. Check out all the competition. Check for commercial viability and why no one else has done it or succeeded yet. Determine if it is a real urgent need that lots of others have, and are willing to pay money for.
3) Get Busy Building Your Network
You’re going to need a lot of connections and resources if you are going to pull this off. Start building a network as early as possible. Advisors, lawyers, investors, and other founders should all be in your database. Early on go to as many events as possible.
4) Organize Your Business
It’s hard to present well, introduce your idea credibly and test effectively without the basic foundations of a business. Decide the best location for your business. Incorporate, get a tax ID number, open a business bank account and get your accounting set up.
5) Test Your Idea
Start actively testing your business. Get out there and sell it. Whether you are charging large sums or are operating a freemium model, you’ve got to be engaging customers and enrolling users. Your product and business may evolve dramatically during this time. That’s okay. The point is that someone is interested and is willing to use it.
6) Turn Your Early Adopters into Raving Fans
The best way to gain traction and to begin to grow your business is to really impress those early adopters so that they stay loyal and refer to others. It may seem like that will require extra work and investment, but it will ultimately be a lot cheaper and more profitable than paid advertising to replace them.
7) Raise Money
If you’ve followed the above steps you’ll be ready to raise some outside money (or more money) to maintain cash flow and fuel getting to the next level. If you’ve achieved the above it will also be easier to raise money at this stage once you have a more polished product and model, and have some action and the data to prove it.
This round will help you achieve the next milestone so that you can raise even more after that. For a winning deck, take a look at the pitch deck template created by Silicon Valley legend, Peter Thiel (see it here) that I recently covered. Thiel was the first angel investor in Facebook with a $500K check that turned into more than $1 billion in cash. Moreover, I also provided a commentary on a pitch deck from an Uber competitor that has raised over $400M (see it here).
8) Scale it
Take that capital and use it to replicate your success and scale your business. Duplicate your successes, expand into new markets, strategically acquire other companies, increase your hiring, and propel you toward a profitable exit.
Alejandro Cremades is a serial entrepreneur and author of best-seller The Art of Startup Fundraising, a book that offers a step-by-step guide to today‘s way of raising money for entrepreneurs.
Author: Alejandro Cremades