If you have a good idea, you’ve built a good team, you generate energy and excitement, and you’re not afraid to take risks, so take the leap. The experience, motivation and freedom that entrepreneurship offers you will hardly be offered by other professional tasks.
Entrepreneurship is a path full of obstacles, overcome like most things, but very rewarding and interesting, where you will learn a lot, whether your project is successful or not. It is true that eight out of ten start-ups do not survive more than three years, but I do not know any entrepreneur who is not satisfied with his adventure (despite some not always well out due to lack of foresight and / or means), but by having learned what they have never been taught in a company or a master’s degree. And life is like that, we learn by trying and making mistakes. I experienced that too.
Here is a series of tips if you want to undertake:
1. Do your internship in any company, not yours
Whatever your age, don’t discover your business skills in your own business. Learn from others with years of experience, whether you have discovered business intelligence with a management position in another company, whether you have carried out a small business dealing with employees or being supervised by a specialist who offers you his time and knowledge. In addition to the technical or commercial competence of the solution you wish to develop, it is advisable to have passed your tests in the field of marketing and commerce, financial calculations and personnel management. As a new leader, you will need them permanently.
2. Build your team with the best
Surround yourself with the complementary profiles you need and build your steering committee with a circle of trust with the strongest profiles possible. We are all good in some ways, but we miss others and the key positions should be filled by specialists, if possible better than you. Your role is not to play a string instrument, a keyboard or a percussion better than anyone and to demonstrate your superiority, but to direct the whole orchestra and find harmony so that nobody can untangle and raise the level globally. You must learn to delegate and trust your team, otherwise you will become a craftsman instead of an entrepreneur, you will not be able to grow, you will become your own slave and eventually this will affect your health.
If you do not feel able to lead and want to continue to develop your specialty in any field because you are doing better than anyone else and adding value to the project, perfect and congratulations on your wise decision. Then delegate the role of leader to a person more competent than you and of your confidence, and take together strategic decisions within the board of directors. Trust him and let him flourish.
And don’t forget to celebrate any project’s victories, whatever size. Everyone is involved and has the right to enjoy and being rewarded for the adventure.
3. Define and communicate your strategy
The commercial strategy is essential to establish a clear trajectory with a journey over time. To define it, you have to start “dreaming” and project yourself into the future. From there are born the great innovative ideas which break the moulds and which can make your project inspiring and profitable. You can then compare the reality of the moment and set yourself medium- and short-term goals. There are techniques that will allow you to step back and define a solid and effective strategy. Don’t worry if you have to make many adjustments and even change course to get to your destination; this is part of the challenges of any start-up and any new project.
Then, don’t forget to share your strategy with your team several times and communicate it to all the other stakeholders. You don’t want to be the captain of a ship where everyone is paddling in a different direction, do you? When the weather is favourable, nothing happens, but when it becomes difficult, you can find yourself shipwrecked. And do not hesitate to get off the boat those who do not share your vision and to replace them with others who add value to your project.
4. Think big but start small
Your project must be ambitious to attract partners and a competent team, customers and suppliers committed to your idea of changing the world, and investors who seek high returns in exchange for their money. But for the success and volume you need, you must first hit the market with an advanced proposition (not necessarily the end product) and attract innovative customers who will accept a beta version that is not perfect. Think that you are at the beginning of the learning curve and that feedback is essential to make the improvements that the market demands. The perfect solution you think does not exist, but the one demanded by the market, no more no less. These innovators will then communicate directly with early adopters or visionary customers, and when you get a sixth of your market (statistically proven), you can get into the majority market and enter the high volume and maturity phase.
5. Prepare your business plan and presentation
The business plan must be clear, complete and concise. It must include the points explained above such as the idea, the work team and the strategy of the company, but also a complete marketing plan, financial calculations and returns and the execution plan. A good plan includes in-depth market research and ambitious but credible figures with quarterly estimates for the first three to five years. Do not worry if the first years you only suffer losses; this is typical of new technologies or large capital investments when the first few years are almost exclusively devoted to research or construction. Getting started small (but sure) comes with that. Even if the development of the company differs from the projections reflected, it will serve as a guide, a gap analysis and will demonstrate integrity to potential investors.
Remember not to exceed 10-12 pages in total (separate appendices) and to include at the beginning a one- or two-page summary which summarizes all the important points. You will then have to prepare a presentation by summarizing on some 10 easy-to-read slides and a “pitch elevator” to be able to verbally present your project to investors in a maximum of two minutes. Keep in mind that the amount of funding you are looking for will depend on your project and the development phase in which it is located. Do not be too conservative and risk running out of resources before completing the desired development phase; This implies a distrust of investors and the need to spend endless time looking for new funding channels instead of devoting yourself to developing your business. Avoid over-mortgaging yourself with the first investments known as “love money” because if your project is unsuccessful, it can cause serious problems with your family and friends.
6. Let yourself be accompanied by a specialist
Most successful leaders are accompanied by an experienced person as a mentor or business coach who guides and challenges you from a neutral position and with a broader perspective. It will allow you to see the whole forest and not just the tree in front of you. In addition, you will surely be put in touch with several people or institutions who will help you develop your business and find the most appropriate financing for your project. Honestly, I don’t know of any top athlete who doesn’t have their personal trainer who accompanies them before, during and after the race. Or maybe you think athletes are so different from entrepreneurs?