Starting your own business: you’ve thought about it a million times. You’ve talked about it to people you trust. Maybe you even keep a notebook full of potential startup ideas and take it everywhere you go. Or maybe you’ve already started a business before, and you’re ready to do it again.
How to get your new business off the ground
Whatever your reasons, the perks of entrepreneurship are hard to beat: flexibility, freedom, and an opportunity (as Steve Jobs once said) to make your “dent in the universe.” Plus, success isn’t dependent on how old you are or what’s on your resume. College dropout and YEC’er Stacey Ferreira turned a tweet from Richard Branson into a million-dollar capital investment in her startup. Sean Belnick went from having zero inventory on hand — and only 3,500 bucks in his pocket — to over a million pieces of inventory housed in 700,000 square feet, all to stay ahead of his competition. But whether you decide to freelance, start a side business or build the next Fortune 500 company, it helps to get some advice from successful entrepreneurs who’ve been there, done that. That’s why we put together some of the best advice we have on file from real-life startup founders on where to begin — and what to do next:
Where to begin
- 5 things to do before you start up and skills you’ll need to succeed
- Identify an idea — it doesn’t need to be perfect
- Build a six-month savings ramp to get you through the leaner months
- Don’t forget the logistics: Pick a name for your business and set up your business entity so you can get your domain names, website, bank accounts and legal paperwork under way — not to mention start building your brand
- Develop a one-paragraph startup plan so you can start executing tomorrow.
What to expect
- Know the 6 stages of starting up (note: getting acquired is optional)
- Get ready for some surprising startup problems
- 10 things investors, mentors, business professors, and even fellow entrepreneurs don’t tell you when you start up.
Test your concept and put together your sounding board
- Test your idea — on real customers — until you get it right
- Learn from other entrepreneurs who’ve been there, done that
- Find a mentor (or better yet, a couple of mentors) to be your sounding board.
Now, make some money (so you can keep going)
- Why not turn your ex-employer into your first client?
- If cash is really tight, consider keeping your day job
- Close cash-flow gaps and reduce customer acquisition costs by looking to the clients you already have
- Start working on a simple, 12-point marketing plan to attract new customers
- Most of all, don’t get caught up in the hype: the top 5 myths founders should ignore.
Finally, if you need some inspiration, check out our interviews with top startup founders from EVERY industry. We asked them to share their biggest mistakes, their #1 cash flow tip, and their single best piece of advice. And we add new ones every week.