Not everyone can start a company, that’s not to say that this or that idea is not brilliant. It simply means that starting your own business is stressful and usually demands your complete focus.
Are you motivated? Self-confident and passionate? Resilient? Are you nuts? Then go ahead, you are the definition of an entrepreneur.
Don’t start a business because you are aware of a temporary trend and you think commercializing it will make money. Before investing any time or resources, evaluate yourself and evaluate if the business concept you want to develop is something you would feel passionate about.
Here I share of the conclusions I reached as an entrepreneur and cofounder of Slickr, The Fashion Social Network.
1. Your business becomes your life
What all your life was a clear line between your personal and professional life, now is completely blurry. María is Slickr; Slickr is María. There will always be things that need to be done and times when stress will be almost unbearable. You will not have time for yourself, your family or friends, so your personal life may suffer. It is essential that you make sure to free sometime for yourself and your people equally.
2. You need to know the terrain of your business
In order to succeed in your business, you need to know your industry inside out. Whatever happens in the market will most probably affect your company. Do your homework. It is very important to do some intensive research to know the industry participants, your competitors, the market size and anything else that defines the space you work in. Find your edge and how are you different from anyone else.
3. It costs more than you think
To start your business you will have to pay for many basic things so expect to invest upfront. The cost of setting up a business – staff, technology, branding, marketing, etc.- is usually higher than what you first expected it to be. Be prepared and plan as much as you can in advance.
4. It also takes longer than you think
Being able to have a stable running, profitable business does not happen overnight. You might have clients, users and people following you almost since the beginning of the trip. However, you should expect it would take at least two years to reach the point where your business is stable and established. It takes a long time to build a solid foundation for your enterprise.
5. Your team is your biggest asset
Always have this in mind. While talent is important in any organization, it is vital in a startup. At the end of the day, your staff makes or breaks the company; as simple as that. Your first employees become an essential part of your business and your life, pulling together through challenging periods.
Business founders need to realize that the people they have chosen in the first place are those who will help them achieve their goals. Therefore, it is really important to create a culture of respect, recognition and appreciation. Each of these employees are the pillars of what you are building and they should be given the opportunity for growth in parallel to your business. In our case, our Slickr team is, by far, our biggest pride.
6. Be open to evolving or be ready to die
Almost all businesses change over time, and what you set out to do initially will probably not be what you end up focusing on. Embrace evolution and be open to risk. There is no discovery without risk; if you prefer to stay within what is considered safe then forget about this trip.I would say one of the main characteristics of a good entrepreneur is to see uncertainty and risk as opportunity.
Adapt, adapt, adapt. Overcome the challenges by being able to change and find a different path that will bring the solutions to your interrogation marks.
7. You become your brand
Whatever your business is, people always want to understand and see who are the faces behind the business. At Slickr we are building a social shopping platform, a fashion network, but still people who we do business with also want to have an understanding of the kind of persons we are.
For startups, networking is key. And the truth is that, although you can network virtually, nothing can replace the personal and direct interaction. So focus on building your company but work on yourself at the same time.
8. You will learn a lot
Really, a lot. By applying yourself in the process of starting a business you will learn about a lot of things that you probably didn’t pay attention to before. That is always and undeniably a good thing. This knowledge is invaluable for future professional ventures and in your personal life.
Especially for young people, startups are one of the best places to learn. At startups, often roles are not that well defined and everyone has the opportunity to wear many different hats. That teaches you how to solve problems, share knowledge and support.
9. Stay humble. Stay hungry
Success is very relative. Even when you feel you have reached success in your project because you are getting extra attention from everywhere and everyone, think that you have not done anything memorable… yet. Humility is really vital because it helps everyone in the company recognize weaknesses and what needs to be improved to make the business run better.
As well, do not give up. Never, ever say that you can’t do something because someone told you your idea was pointless or useless. Master what you do and continue to work for what you love.
By Maria Munoz
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