Taking that first step to starting your own business is tough. But even more tough is to survive the first year and stay focussed. Forbes cites “75% of new businesses survive the first year, 69% survive the first two years, and 50% make it to five years”. So what gets a business started on the right food, and how does you increase its odds of survival?
One’s motivation to start a business comes from an all-consuming idea - something that simply must be built. That same passion can mean blindness of the difficulty and the endless key decisions one has to take.
After spending several years working for leading eCommerce companies, I quit my job last year to launch my online custom-made home decor brand startup. The idea came to me when I was redesigning my home and was shocked at the steep prices of quality custom-made products.
Looking back, it is clear that one’s success on the entrepreneurial journey are contingent on the effectiveness of the first few months. I used the the tips in this article to move from solving my own problem to growing my company into a brand shipping hundreds of custom made home goods.
Network from Dawn to Dusk
This is especially true for first time entrepreneurs. Being a successful entrepreneur is less about being extremely strategic and hard working and more about knowing the right set of people. Having 500+ contacts on Linkedin and 5000 Facebook friends is not the goal. Connecting with new people and actively reaching out to your existing network is the real deal. The more you socialize your idea and get insights from experts, the lesser you are prone to errors the first few months of your startup. Taking help is a must when you are a newbie entrepreneur and there are a few types of people you have to rely on to grow your business.
Here are the 5 Kinds of People Who Will Help You Succeed as an Entrepreneur (http://www.entrepreneur.com/article/245948)
Meet One New Person Every Day
Setting a goal for anything and everything always helps. One such goal could be meeting one new person everyday. It might be a difficult one to achieve initially, but reaching out to your primary contacts and asking them to connect you to their extended network is a great way to grow your network. Everyone likes to help people who are motivated to grow their business, you just have to ask.
Be Part of an Ecosystem
A lot of us bootstrap our companies in the initial phases. In those phases it is very important to cut corners everywhere and spend very wisely. Every dollar is a debate of ROI. There are a few tactics that will take you a long way and are worth every penny.
Become part of an Ecosystem at a Coworking Space
The coworking community is growing quickly. Every day a new coworking space opens up offering work space facilities and opportunities. More than anything else, these coworking spaces offer an ecosystem for early stage startups to meet people, learn, and stay motivated. It's impossible to know if your 1st investor or a key advisor might just be someone you meet at your coworking space. The few hundred dollars of investment per month are most definitely worth it.
The first few months are super chaotic. You will get several opinions from people, have several different ideas to juggle with and will have to prioritize constantly. Creating a well documented strategy is super helpful. One other tactic is to calendar everything. Whether it is a meeting or working on the pitch deck or finding the 30 mins to scan all the expense receipts, calendaring everything is simple and easy way to stay organized.
Here are some quick and easy tactics that will help you stay organized and stay productive “Best Kept Secrets To Maximizing Your Time” (LINK: Startup Grind http://startupgrind.com/2015/05/best-kept-secrets-to-maximizing-your-time/)
Be a Customer Enthusiast
The first few customers are the most crucial ones. In fact, a lot of your product evolution will come from those first few customer feedback. One good practice which a lot of startup founders tend to do is to carve out a time every week to get on the phone or meet in person with their customers. Asking for feedback and actively deploying it into the development of your product not only makes your customers extremely happy, but is also a great strategy to generate word of mouth. Few people can resist telling their friends they are responsible for an app's cool new feature or a book's new extended edition.
Share of your customers mind
Being in your customer’s mind whenever they need the service or product your company sells is an important goal to achieve. Customers might not be looking for a particular product/service all the time, but whenever they do, your product should be the first one to come to their mind. Being constantly in touch with customers through brief phone chats or through engaging newsletters is a great way to capture your customer’s share of mind.
Avoid Sleepless Nights
The first few months are super busy and it keeps getting busier. It is quite natural to sacrifice a few luxuries of life. But sacrificing on the required healthy hours of sleep is not a great idea. 3 hours of sleep will not define the success of your startup. On the contrary, it might overwork your mind and reduce your productivity.
Don’t be Overwhelmed
As an entrepreneur It is very easy to get overwhelmed with the multitude of things on your plate and to say yes to every opportunity that comes your way. In these situations take a step back to think through every little detail, trying to align it with your big hairy audacious goal - or cut it out. Carving out time to just think about your work and progress will help you to be more strategic and structured with the key decisions for your business.
Every phase of a startup is different and different phases bring different challenges, but having a few clear strategies will be extremely effective for your business. Effective networking is by far the most powerful strategy to take your idea to execution and beyond. It is difficult to achieve everything alone, and a successful entrepreneur knows how to ask for help at the right time from the right set of people.