Taking the plunge into entrepreneurship requires many things -- creativity, tenacity, resilience and money all come to mind. More than anything, though, it requires courage to take that initial step, leave your comfort zone and try to find certainty in a world with anything but.
Not to sound too cliché, but Lao Tzu was right when he said, “The journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step.” The essence of a startup is to just start, but -- and this is a big “but” -- there are right and wrong ways to go about starting.
If you’re thinking about starting your own business, here are five “starts” to consider before taking the plunge:
1. Start small.
In his book The Lean Startup, Eric Ries speaks to the value of establishing a minimum viable product -- the very least of a product or service offering that will determine if customers are interested. An MVP keeps costs low and acts as a market test to see if your product will be of interest. Once demand increases, then you begin to scale your product -- not before.
2. Start with your network.
The contacts you already have are just one email or phone call away from providing advice, sharing your intent or referring a prospective customer.
3. Start thinking outside the box.
Rather than building a product that answers the typical what-do-I-offer-and-who-will-buy-it question, ask yourself, "What do I offer that others don’t? Who else will buy it?" The purpose here is to not only to distinguish yourself but to get your brain thinking about why your brand is different and why the value of it is important.
4. Start taking care of yourself.
If you don’t manage your stress, your stress will manage you -- and it will win. There are plenty of ways to reduce startup stress, and if you don’t find the proper outlets to do so, then all those built up feelings of frustration, anxiety and nervousness will, at some point, spontaneously combust at the most inopportune time.
Try this: block off an hour or so every day to do what you want to do -- something that takes your mind off the job and allows you to enjoy your “happy place.” If you’re stressed out, the only person to fault is you.
5. Start failing.
Don't make failure the primary “F” word that you avoid. This is the one F-bomb you want to drop all the time because to fail is to learn and to learn is to improve. Failure offers feedback, it establishes the boundaries between right and wrong and good and bad so you know where you can, and can’t, navigate. Plus, unless we’re talking about death or taxes, failure is only temporary -- it just depends where you choose to stop.
Have you started yet?