Starting the ‘Start-up’

It has never been cooler to be an entrepreneur, especially in the digital sector. Stories of people starting from nothing – from their dorm rooms, garages, etc., are more than enough to motivate anyone to start anything. Add that to the fact that Instagram and Pinterest are now worth $35 Billion and $11 Billion respectively, now the motivation is through the roof. But what do you need to do to get started? Do you ‘just start’? No! … and Yes.

No?

.No. Because it takes a lot to make a business succeed, and it’s way more than ‘gut feeling’. When you hear successful business people talk about trusting their gut feeling? They’re referring to a sense they have honed and trained over time. Yes, it is intuition, only it is trained intuition – sharpened by experience. A novice jumping in with nothing to guide him or her but gut feeling could end in disaster. To add to that, there is the mild fact that 90% of Startups fail. This is enough to warn a new entrepreneur to tread with caution.

So, what does this mean for the budding entrepreneur? Does it mean there is no hope? Not at all! As a matter of fact, there is plenty of hope. With the amount of information available to us now, new entrepreneurs can avoid the mistakes made by their predecessors. See what the other 10% of startups are doing differently.

In addition to that, make sure you test your theory. This piece highlights 10 simple experiments you can conduct to test your startup idea. This will give you a good idea of just how sellable your product or service is (and who would buy it, as a matter of fact).

Finally, write a business plan … and stick to it! This is Entrepreneurship 101. Writing your business plan gives you the opportunity to go over your business idea in detail. You take your time to think about the numbers, your target market, etc. Don’t worry. You don’t have to start from scratch. There are several templates to guide you.

Yes!

One thing you need to know from the beginning is that there is no such thing as a perfect plan. Sometimes, even the best put-together plans fall apart. Our operating environment (Nigeria, Africa) makes it even more interesting as most people will tell you that standard economic principles do not apply here.

So, what should you do? Start from somewhere … anywhere. Yes, you will fail a few times, but the fun is in getting back up. Each time, you learn one more thing that doesn’t work. You add another feather to your cap, gain more experience in your industry (and in running a business), and slowly but surely, you’ll eventually get it right. Will it be easy? No! It will test you in every way possible. But think about the pride and joy that will come from finally making it work.

One way to help yourself is not to ‘fight alone’. Surround yourself with people in your industry, other entrepreneurs and people that generally believe in you and your ideas. Entrepreneurship can be a lonely journey. You need comrades.

All said and done, private enterprise is the backbone of every economy. This means the onus is on us to start and build businesses that will sustain the economy in the years to come. So, will you be part of it? I know, I will.