When we were young, we were asked: “what do you want to be when you grow up?”. The answers were always along the lines of doctor, fireman, astronaut, or chef. But the answer, we would so proudly proclaim, would hardly ever be an entrepreneur. Being an entrepreneur isn’t a job commonly thought of by children when deciding a career, but in defence of our childhood responses, what does it really mean to be an entrepreneur? According to Konrad Billetz, co-founder and co-CEO of Offset Solar,
“Entrepreneurship is the ability to recognize the bigger picture, find where there’s an opportunity to make someone’s life better, design hypotheses around these opportunities and continually test your assumptions.”
Any invention or innovation that aims to ameliorate an aspect of someone’s life, or aims to improve a global problem, should be pursued. With that in mind, starting a venture can be a difficult and slow-moving process – even when you feel as if you never stop moving. There are various and never-ending hurdles to overcome, such as: funding, product design, market testing, and product efficiency. Every company and every individual product/service is unique and will have their fair share of problems. But you, as a business owner – an entrepreneur, will have to don a cape to persevere through the lows while taking time to celebrate the highs.
We have compiled a list of tips and tricks to assist as you embark on this new adventure.
Before you start your business, make sure you fully understand what you want your product to accomplish and the problem it's solving. Not only should you understand the industry you’re entering, but also thoroughly know your competition.
It would be beneficial to connect with another entrepreneur who has gone through the journey of starting a business. They may be able to provide valuable insights that could help you to avoid any headaches down the road.
Research is a major asset that will contribute to the quality of your product and success of your venture.
Researching your competition will give you insights into what is already offered in that market. You can therefore compare and contrast your product against the models in the market and can make any necessary improvements or adjustments to ensure differentiation.
Research your target audience; where and how they spend their time, their likes/dislikes, and more so that you can completely understand what they need and how to speak to them. Don’t assume you know your audience without conducting thorough research, even if you fall within that demographic. You may also come across a stronger primary target audience, one you may not have thought of, through your research which allows you to better tailor your message and find the right consumers. (Tip: Be completely unbiased when choosing a target market, your gut feel may not always be the best choice.)
Do a detailed environmental scan to understand people’s mindsets, political/ socio-economical/ competitive/ environmental aspects of your market.
Research potential investors for your product/service.
Plan out your short term, mid, and long-term goals and ensure to have planned checkpoints to assess how you are tracking. Setting granular, individual goals will help you to progress your business and will also help you to remain focused on where you want your business to be.
Conducting a detailed SWOT analysis provides useful insights that will help you strategize your product/service in the market – SWOT stands for; Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities and Threats. SWOT is an easy way to pinpoint the internal aspects of your business that are working well, what external opportunities are abundant in the market, what needs to be improved, and what outside threats exist for your venture. (Tip: Try creating your company SWOT here.)
Practice Diverse Hiring
In a report co-published by the Centre for International Governance Innovation and the Pierre Elliott Trudeau Foundation, a 1% increase in diverse hiring is associated with a 2.4% annual increase in revenue.
Not only does diversity within the workplace have financial benefits, it also helps your company to access new markets globally, as well as to generate stronger ideas and innovations. Hiring and working with a diverse group of people will allow your company to effectively communicate with various global markets and provides a great opportunity to expand your customer base with different insights.
Having a diverse workforce means that every individual will have their own personal strengths and weaknesses. As your company expands it is essential that you keep track of both, so you can utilize their strengths to their full advantage and improve upon their weaknesses to give them the opportunity to grow.
Prepare to Launch!
Before you launch, make sure you know your product/service. Spend some time using your product, as you want your consumers to, and work out any kinks. You will then be better-suited to answer any questions your customers may have and understand the process they must use.
However, waiting until your product is perfect before launching holds different risks than if you were to launch too early. If you wait until it’s perfect, you might never launch. If you wait too long to release your product, the market may have moved on or you’ve given your edge to a competitor. Instead, launch just before you’re ready and let customer feedback tell you how to improve your product (Tip: The more you involve your customer in the product/service, the better the chances it will resonate with them). This will allow you to strengthen consumer relationships, build trust and credibility, by showing them that you listen to and care about their experience.
Lastly, we’ll leave you with one final piece of advice; whatever your business may be, make sure you have a strong online presence. Consumers will typically look online first when researching a product/service and will be looking to validate quality, credibility, social good, and consumer engagement. It is essential that your business has a strong digital platform to keep up with the markets and understand your consumers. Social media, for instance, will make it easier to listen to your target audience’s wants, needs, and feedback. Get online and build a presence! (Tip: Social media is a great way to advertise your product and service, however, the best results come from also engaging directly with your consumers and the digital communities they're involved in.)
Whether or not this is your first time starting a business, these pieces of advice will be helpful in achieving a smoother and more organized launch of your venture. We wish you the best of luck, and every success, with all of your business endeavours!
Seasoned entrepreneurs, do you find you follow many of the tools/tips above? What other pieces of advice do you have for new startups?
Did you enjoy our 4 Tips for Entrepreneurs: From Startup to Gazelle blog? Stay tuned for our next article – and while you wait check out our other articles & videos here!