Most employees are thinking about starting their own businesses “someday” but it takes a lot courage to give up their current jobs. If you are serious about being an entrepreneur, the time to invest time to find out if it’s the best career option for you is now. Unfortunately too many people don’t get to it because other things are standing in their way.
If you really want to be an entrepreneur and pursue your own ideas soon, these are a few things you should be doing.
1. Start connecting…fast. You will need all the connections you can get. Find related entrepreneurship events or meet ups and interact with people who are already doing what you are hoping to do in the near future. If you don’t know lots of entrepreneurs, just start asking people to make some introductions, leverage you connections on LinkedIn to introduce you to other entrepreneurs or join relevant groups on LinkedIn.
Ask all the questions you have on your mind. Get to know them not just at the meetings but follow-up and keep the communication going. When you finally get to start your company, you will know why you need to build great contacts. Among other things, your contacts can help you get that introduction for partnerships, raising funds for your new business, securing your most important clients etc. Networking never ends, the most important thing is to build upon that business relationship with all the entrepreneurs and professionals you meet.
2. Find role models and read all about them (aim for a meeting if you can). Select three or more companies that you admire and try to connect with their founders or leaders. Not necessarily the fancy, influencer types, but just normal, low-key leaders who could help you on your journey. Find as many ways to follow them as possible—be it their blogs, articles, or LinkedIn profiles, Twitter accounts etc. Think about how their personalities and leadership styles have shaped the brands and the companies they run. Stay abreast of their company news, and take note of what they share about their own experience.
If you can arrange a meet up with a some of them, the better. A meeting with a successful entrepreneur could take time to actually happen. If you are serious about finding a mentor or role model in your industry, find out everything you can about them online before you approach them for advice or communicate what you expect from them.
Most entrepreneurs will be happy to help a new entrepreneur succeed but the truth is, most of them don’t have the time to actually sit down with you and tell you what you want to hear. But the good news is, you can start online and introduce yourself and what you expect from them in a short note or email. If they will be in an event near you, take advantage of that and get there to introduce yourself. Go put a face that person he or she met online and make it count.
3. Develop your core competence. Every entrepreneur has a core competence. The very successful ones leverage their strengths and hire other smart people who can take care of the other side of business. You are better off handling what you are good at than trying to do almost everything in your business. Knowing your core competencies is one of the most important pieces of information you could have that can help you start and maintain a successful venture. Your core competency is the intersection of what you’re good at and what you’re passionate about. What are you great at? Start developing your core competence today.
The same principle can also be applied to your business. Focus on the one thing your business can deliver better than anyone else. What can set you apart from your competitors? It’s the one thing that, if done right, could make you stand out in your industry.
4. Don’t wait for a great idea…just start already. It’s important to know why you are starting a business and what idea can be built into a successful venture but you don’t have to waste all your time trying to find that killer idea that can disrupt your industry. The right time may never come. In as much as you don’t want to waste resources on starting a business that won’t fly, it’s also important not waste time thinking about what could be the next big thing when you can dive straight into it and iterate as you grow.
The most crucial thing at the beginning is to have a workable executive summary (it does not necessary need to be a 40-page document) that will drive customer adoption, profitability and guide you on what needs to be done. Every successful business evolves with time and products get better if you invest resources into it.
5. Learn everything you can….you will need it. The opportune moment to know everything you can about any industry is when you are convinced about the idea you want to pursue. Get your hands on every resource that can help you gain knowledge about the industry, trends, growth rate, industry leaders and what it takes to succeed in that market. You should also invest in your personal growth. There are lots of free personal and professional development resources online you can use to kick start your personal development.