Nothing sounds better than running your own business, being your own boss, and having the freedom to implement your unique ideas. It’s the stuff dreams are made of. I know because I’ve been there. I also know, ‘all that glitters is not gold’.
Newbies usually jump the gun when it comes to starting online businesses, and run out of gas within few months. As they say, there is a right time for everything. Yours haven’t come yet if following points are not working in your favor:
Money in bank
‘It’s not about the money’. The likes of Mark Zuckerberg and Steve Jobs share this view. And it’s somewhat true too. But they cannot refuse the fact that money played a crucial role in reaching their present envious position. The point is you will need money for:
- Site design, development, and marketing
- Paying bills and rent
- Groceries and everyday expenses
- Unforeseen expenditures
Don’t go around assuming you will get funding within a couple of months and you will be fine. Save to survive at least one year without any income.
You read it right. One year. And be prepared to live as frugally as possible to last longer.
Knowledge in head
So, you are planning to launch an ecommerce store for millennials? That’s great but have you figured out technical aspects like:
- How much the ‘cool’ store will cost you?
- What real skills you will bring to the table?
- How will you connect with your future customers?
- Who will take care of getting vendors on board?
Launching an online business requires diverse set of skills. Even if you plan to outsource the design, development, and marketing (an expensive proposition), you need to be aware about the basics to avoid ending up with a stillborn online venture.
Team by your side
Confucius rightly said, ‘the man who moves a mountain begins by carrying away small stones’. But you need a team to move the bigger ones, don’t you? And a team with the right set of equipment and knowhow to move the mountain itself.
When I thought about launching a web driven business, I joined hands with the best planning, coding, and marketing minds in my circle. While doing this, make sure that:
- They believe in your idea
- They have time to spare
- They won’t walk away within months
Life in your favor
Sometimes, you just aren’t ready. There can be thousands of reasons for it. You got a family to support, mortgage to pay off, or a spouse who thinks it’s not a good idea at present time. Figuring out these details is as important as any other point discussed above.
Of course there are ways to manage things. I know people who do multiple jobs without breaking the family-work balance. The question here is ‘can you do that?’ If you have too much on your plate already, then, I would suggest emptying it out before adding more to it.
In short, don’t let you entrepreneurial dreams upset your boat of life.
Willingness to multitask
Startups are not about people wearing suits doing what they are told to do. They are about people running around managing everything they can get their hands on. The ability to multitask and more importantly willingness to take up new roles is of prime importance to succeed with limited hands and funds at your disposal.
Saying ‘that’s not part of my job’ is almost a sin in startup work environments. So, if you are only good at design and don’t want to contribute in anything else, you better think twice before starting on the long startup walk.
Resolve to live frugal
Every startup owner has the word ‘funding’ running in the back of his mind. They work hard to build their product, met growth estimates, and end up disappointed when investors don’t show up. This is especially true when VCs have become careful with their investment portfolio. While it’s good to have big money, think about bootstrapping as well. Sit down with your team to discuss how you can minimize expenses. I controlled mine by:
- Living in a shared apartment
- Not investing in office space initially
- Eating in most days of the week
- Skipping drinks at expensive places
Remember, ‘little by little, a little becomes a lot.’
Discipline to succeed
The one thing common between all successful startups is the perseverance of their founders. They not only had the knowledge and passion but also the discipline to keep working on their ideas. Talent as it is well known cannot go much far without discipline.
The second important detail is mental preparedness.
- Are you ready to manage at less until money pours in?
- Can you keep moving against great odds?
- Do you want to go through the agony of uncertainty?
Disciple and grit is what helps global leaders, entrepreneurs and social figures overcome great obstacles. If you can’t manage both, I would recommend sticking to your job until you do.
Now, don’t go on to assume that your online business will have a great run if you have above points figured out. Be prepared to receive your share of surprises on the way and lose few battles.
Embrace uncertainty and improvise because that’s the only way to survive in the demanding world of startups.
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