1. It’s going to take more than passion
Yes, passion is important… but it’s not the only thing. What have you got going for you? What are your skills? What are you good at? Where are your connections? Who are your connections?
Everyone has them. Now is when you want to use them. This could be the parents at your kids school, who plays action cricket with you, ex-colleagues, clients, university groups – if you sit down and actually make a list, you’ll be surprised by how many people you know that you can now potentially tap into.
2. Look at what’s bugging you
We speak to a lot of very successful entrepreneurs, and they’ve all got one thing in common – they’re never satisfied. There’s always something they’re trying to fix and do better. If something is irritating you, chances are, it irritates someone else as well – a solution that works for you, should have a wider audience.
We also advise prospective entrepreneurs to carry a notebook around with them, or use an app like Evernote. Pay attention to the world. What works? What doesn’t work? Where’s a problem just waiting for a solution?
3. Stress-test your idea
Lean start-up methodology has become the new ‘it’ term for start-ups. The idea is simple, you need to get out into the market, as quickly as possible, and start testing your product or service.
There’s a simple rule of thumb. If you’ve waited until you have a perfect product before you launch, you’ve waited too long. There should be some problems and little bugs. That’s okay. Your users will give you feedback, and you’ll use that valuable intel to fine tune your offering.
This brings me to a very important point – listen to feedback. Invite it. Offer rewards for it. Do whatever you need to do, but get it. And don’t trust your mom and your grandmother to be completely honest. You need users who want a product that solves their problem, because they will tell you what they need.
4. Start small
Too many entrepreneurs think they can’t get started until they’ve secured R2 million in funding. Rubbish. Unless you’re building a manufacturing plant, you don’t need that kind of capital. You need to start trading, because that’s all business is. It’s money in, money out.
You need to prove that you can do that. Maybe that means you start out selling a few small things, and build from there, but you need to show that you understand how to trade, have a good grip on cash flow, and can get revenue in the business. Then, if you need cash, you can approach investors. But don’t even try until you’ve been trading.
5. Finally, be very clear about your market
Investors have an inside joke about start-ups who say, ‘we just need 5% of this market’. The problem is, someone who has developed an app will say, there are 500 million mobile users in x territory, and we need just 5% of that market to make a killing. But the market isn’t 500 million.
- Who is your target audience?
- Women, children, men under 35?
- What’s their LSM?
- What do they look like?
- What do they care about?
- Are they all bikers?
Create personas for your ideal market, and then find them. You’ll probably find your market is closer to 200 000 than 500 million.
If you’re not clear about your market, you’ll find it difficult to reach them and market to them.