Resources to find ideas, funding, and more on starting a business
For many people, entrepreneurship is the ultimate career goal. And we love entrepreneurs at NuvoDesk!
Starting a company can be one of the most rewarding and interesting opportunities you’ll ever get. When 90% of startups fail, we want to give you the tools you need to succeed! If you’re aware of the risks but you’re still determined to be an entrepreneur, start with the information in this article.
How to Become an Entrepreneur
1) Identify Profitable Startup Ideas
A successful startup begins with an idea. Here are some techniques for thinking of a product or service:
Ask your friends what frustrates them.
How could you solve this problem for them? As you brainstorm, ask your friends to keep track of the day-to-day things that annoy them. Then go through their lists and look for problems you might be able to solve.
Get inspired by other emerging startups.
For instance, if you go to Product Hunt, you can find a constantly updated curation of the newest apps, websites, and games, for digital inspiration. Meanwhile, Kickstarter is great for physical products.
Identify trends to future-proof your idea.
People need different products as the world continues to change. For example, Uber, Lyft, and other ride-sharing apps created a demand for a third-party app that will tell you the cheapest fares when someone needs a ride. Read trend predictions for your industry or market, or check out universal trend forecasting publications like Trend Hunter and Springwise. Then ask yourself, “If these predictions come true, which tools will be necessary?”
2) Identify and Focus on a Growing Category (or Categories)
Pick a category that interests you but isn’t overly competitive.
- After you’ve picked a category, study all the products/services in that category.
- What are each product’s benefits, and how do they vary?
- What’s their packaging and marketing strategy?
- What do reviewers say?
- What are the potential improvements?
- What services are people taking advantage of and why?
Once you’ve picked a product/service, consider questions like:
- What can be done to improve it?
- Can I add a new feature?
- What about a different material?
- Can I personalize it somehow?
3) Fill an Underserved Demand
Many people start successful businesses after noticing a gap in their market. For example, perhaps you learn there’s a shortage of high-quality sales outsourcing. Since you have experience in sales development and account management at early-stage sales companies, you might decide to offer this service to tech startups.
4) Make Something Better (or Cheaper) than What’s Out There
You don’t always need to develop something brand-new or even reinvent the wheel. If you can offer an existing product at a lower price point, better quality, or ideally, both, you’ll be able to attract plenty of customers.
5) Validate Your Startup Idea with Buyer Persona Research
Once you’ve got an idea, you need to know other people will actually want your product or service. Start by understanding your buyer persona, i.e. the real people you plan to sell to.
Once you’ve identified your ideal client, interviewing people who fit the bill should be an important component of your research. Show them a working demo of your product, ask what they like and what they don’t, how much they’d pay for it, how often they’d use it, and so on.
6) Start with a Minimum Viable Product (MVP)
An MVP is the simplest, most basic version of your tool or service possible. It’s functional enough to satisfy early customers and get a sense of what you should improve.
Starting small with an MVP keeps your costs low to start but allows room for growth as the product continues to be validated.
7) Create a Business Plan
A business plan is a formalized document that details your business goals and the steps you’ll take to achieve them. This may include marketing strategy, budget, and financial projections and milestones.
Your business plan also includes your company’s mission, vision, as well as long-term and short-term goals. This strategic planning helps guide the growth of your startup.
8) Continue to iterate based on feedback
Keep in mind that your MVP will not likely be enough to stay competitive in the market categories you choose.
Optimizing your flywheel: Generating interest and demand (marketing the product), securing customers (selling the product), gauging satisfaction, improving the product based on feedback. Repeat.
Gaining Experience as an Entrepreneur
There are two main ways to approach gaining experience as an entrepreneur: doing the work yourself or hiring for it.
Acquiring Experience Yourself
You can acquire experience as you develop your new business by:
Networking with other professionals.
Professional networking will expose you to more professionals you can learn from or even find a willing mentor. You can join online professional networks, like LinkedIn, to find out about virtual or in-person networking events to connect and meet other entrepreneurs.
Conducting independent research.
Conducting personal research from reputable sources and other entrepreneurs will help you better understand your responsibilities. Behavioral research helps you find resources to simplify your business operations and grow your business as you scale.
Take entrepreneurial courses.
Exploring entrepreneurial studies through a college institution or certification course can offer more in-depth knowledge about breaking into the industry than typical internet sources.
Hiring for Experience
Oftentimes an entrepreneur beginning a business will hire for experience to guide them in the right direction.
Work with a business coach.
A paid option to gain experience is to work with a business coach or consultant.
Business coach – This coach leads an entrepreneur toward solutions. This means that the entrepreneur is actually improving their own competency.
Business consultant – A consultant will solve problems for the entrepreneur as a contractor.
Add experienced individuals to your team.
Learn from people you add to your team. Their talents may fill the gaps in your own knowledge as time progresses.
Ways to Finance Your Business
Many entrepreneurs typically grow their startups by bootstrapping (securing funding on their own), through small business loans, or by securing funding from investors. Here are some resources to check out:
SBA Funding Programs – The SBA offers resources to help you find lenders, secure investment capital, win grants, and more.
Incubators – A startup incubator provides resources to help grow the business in exchange for equity.
Angel Investing – An angel investor uses their own money to invest and focus on helping entrepreneurs build and grow in exchange for equity.
Venture Capital – A venture capitalist does not use their own money to invest and therefore takes fewer risks and has less agreeable terms, which is why you may want to avoid VC funding until you’re more established in your business.
Counseling & Advocacy
Training, counseling, and advocacy can help you fill knowledge gaps.
SBA Learning Center – The SBA offers a learning platform “designed to empower and educate small business owners every step of the way.” This includes business guides, courses, and development programs.
Business Hubs – Some local governments cultivate business hubs that combine low-cost office space, networking, and other resources to support small businesses and develop the local ecosystem. These are location-specific and more common in urban areas.
Trade/Professional Associations and Business Groups – Membership in a professional association may help you build trust with your customers, but it often comes with additional perks such as job boards, legal resources, training courses, and more. These are location- or industry-specific.
Support Networks – You don’t have to go through the trials and tribulations of starting and running a business alone. Try entrepreneur networks, groups, and events where members share experiences and learn together.
Here’s how you can build your support network:
Find and attend entrepreneur events – The SBA offers both online and in-person events for entrepreneurs. Simply use their search engine to find the ones that make the most sense for your situation.
Join existing organizations and peer advisory boards – Organizations such as the Entrepreneurs’ Organization, the Tugboat Institute, and Vistage offer membership and resources to entrepreneurs.
Get a mentor or business coach – Personalized attention from a mentor or coach can help you work through issues one-on-one and help you develop as a leader.
Starting your own company has pros and cons (as with anything we do in this life.) Success doesn’t happen overnight. Now that you know what it takes to become an entrepreneur, gain experience, and fund a business, we hope you can find a place at NuvoDesk!