By Mofoluke Ayoola, CEO and founder of RedViolet Company, an on-demand interior design company based in Lagos, Nigeria
Entrepreneurs are saddled with the responsibility of designing and creating solutions that meet the needs of their target audience.
This process is often filled with twists and turns, leading to sometimes, expected and also unexpected realities, if you are nurturing the idea of getting to the entrepreneurial world or have a startup idea, consider these insider tips I put together from my experience with various business ideas and my journey through RedViolet Company.
There are five categories of people in the entrepreneurial world, namely:
- The many that dream of being entrepreneurs but, saddled with excuses and fears, never really step into it.
- Those that start but fail before they launch.
- Those that regress or fail after they’ve achieved some form of traction.
- The small percentage that succeeds but never go big.
- The very few elites that grow to become giant corporations.
Which category do you want to be? The fifth, right? I have compiled a list of some powerful tips you need to equip yourself with if your startup idea is going to bloom into a successful business.
1. Transcend and Start
Fears. Excuses. Procrastination. You need to transcend them and start somewhere. Otherwise, your new idea is going nowhere. If you can’t even convince yourself that you have the potential to nurture your startup idea to success, how would you buy the interest of potential investors, partners, and consumers to share in your vision?
2. Be a Solution
Please don’t invest in a business idea just because you:
- Think it’s cool.
- Feel a sudden emotional impulse to do so.
- Are being coerced to do so.
First understand the business behind your idea and the market behind the business. Now ask yourself these questions.
- What problem will my startup solve?
- What needs will it meet?
- What value will it add to people’s lives?
A solution. That’s the only thing consumers value.
3. Simple Is Wise
Like many entrepreneurs, you probably have ideas of multiple potential features and directions your new startup could have and go. Now watch out. Don’t get too carried away in your brilliance that you give birth to an unmanageable, cost-ineffective, convoluted business or end product nobody wants to buy.
Start small and simple. This is called a minimum viable product (MVP), then inject new features as your business grow.
4. Passion and Wisdom Are Couples
In the words of Thomas J. Watson, “To be successful in business, you have to have your heart in your business and your business in your heart.” Love what you do, cherish it, live it.
Passion is what energises and compels you to keep going all seem lost when challenges come rearing their ugly heads.
Learn to tame your passion with wisdom. While it can fuel your progress, knowledge is what guides you in the right direction.
5. Always Listen
Listening, in this case, is both literal and figurative. In other words, be like a sponge. Learn always to absorb information. Talk to real people about your start-up — that is, friends and family, experts, regular consumers etc. Read books. Attend seminars and webinars. Read body language while talking to people about your business. Learn from your and others’ mistakes. Soak up knowledge at every step of the way, as you need information at every phase of your business.
The right information can help you;
- With decision making
- Identify your competition
- Analyse and prepare your strategy
- Identify your target market
- Identify your pricing model
- Identify trends within your target market
- Understand your customers’ needs and values
- Set short, medium, and long-term goals
6. Filter and Adapt
The last thing you want is to inject misinformation and misconceptions into your business. Absorbing information is one thing. Filtering away the chaff and adapting to trends is another. Things change. The world becomes more dynamic by the day. And some information becomes outdated and useless, depending on the circumstances.
The key is to be open-minded. Approach change with an open-mind, adapt as quickly as possible.
7. You Are Not an Island
One major pitfall of becoming an entrepreneur is trying to do everything yourself, which then translates to a tremendous amount of responsibilities that end up bringing your business down.
Every entrepreneur needs help. In the case of first-timers, getting help becomes exceptionally vital. Help can come in the form of an employee, moral support, inspiration from people, mentorship, financial support, and so on. The key is understanding where and why you need help and surrounding yourself with people that can provide that support.
8. What About Legal Requirements
Laws aren’t fun, but it pays to understand the rules surrounding the starting and running of a business. You could face ugly penalties should you fail to adhere to government regulations. For instance, some of the legal principles you need to pay attention to pertains to:
- Forming a legal structure
- Registering your business with your state
- Setting up an accounting system
- Following employer laws
- Taking care of business-specific tax liabilities and more.
Consult a corporate lawyer or accountant for advice. This may very well, save you some legal headaches in the future.
9. Project the Costs
As you begin to flesh out your startup idea, remember to factor in how much the venture will cost — that is, every business expense from development to operation. That’s including location and rental costs, supplies, and marketing.
Once you have arrived at the most educated number, quadruple that number. Why? Chances are that you will very often run into unexpected costs of running your startup. It’s better to be over-prepared than under-prepared.
It doesn’t end there. Factor in your personal budget too. It’s good to treat your capital as someone’s money. However, unless you have a side business or employment whose income sponsors your personal needs, you should expect your personal expenses to affect your business. It’s better to understand your personal expenses and get a hand on them from the beginning than allow them to drain your capital.
10. Earn as You Build
It takes time for a new business to start pulling in a steady income. Hence, a smart first-time entrepreneur would keep their day job while they develop their start-up idea. That way, you will have an income source to support both your expenses and businesses’. Plus, should your start-up fail, you have something to fall back on.
With time, as your start-up becomes steady, you transition from an employee to a full-time entrepreneur.