Starting a new business is daunting and, like all things, the hardest part is starting. But every successful company you’ve ever heard of had to start somewhere. Though there are a lot of reasons why they’re successful, there are a few basic ideas that frequently come up.
1. Ideas come from everywhere.
Don’t be selfish or too proud. A good idea is a good idea, and it doesn’t matter if it came from your babysitter or waitress. There’s a general belief that all great ideas come from the top of the company. And while that may have been true with people like Steve Jobs, most of us are not Steve Jobs and will never even be remotely like him. Ideas come from all over, and you need to decide which ones to follow.
2. If you want to do something, do it.
If you want program new software or hardware, the best way to prepare for that is to do it. If you want to be a programmer, start programming. Learn how top do what you want and then make it happen. A football player doesn’t simply start playing football at the professional level. What you’re seeing when you watch professional sports is the culmination of decades of work at those specific skills. The same is true for artists and musicians, and so the same applies to business. The best way to do something is to just get out and do it. Now, this is why it’s also important to do something you love. Since you’re devoting so much time to a specific set of skills, it better be something you love doing.
3. Be frugal.
Save your money and put it back into your company. Vacations, big houses, and fancy cars are nice, and they may show that you’ve hit a level of success, but they don’t keep you there. Rather than buy that new Mercedes, push that money back into your company, into your ideas, and see where it leads. If you can make all that money starting from nothing, how much more can you make with the profits? Re-invest in your company and watch the returns grow higher and higher.
4. Intellectual property isn’t as valuable as you think.
You may have the best idea that’s ever happened in your industry, but if you’re not continually pushing past it, making it better, making it more, than you don’t have much. The better your initial idea, the quicker it’s going to be copied and innovated to something better, so you need to stay ahead of your competition. By the time they catch up to your initial good idea, you should be at least one innovation past them. So while that first idea is extremely important and it will get you started, it’s still just one idea, and if you only have one idea then you’ll never really succeed.
5. Innovate but remain accessible.
With every idea you need to keep the customer in mind. If you innovate too much and become too complex, you’ll lose those supporters who made you who you are. Keep your product and services simple for the customer. The customer is everything when you’re starting up, especially now with sites like Yelp so readily available. If you don’t treat your customers well or don’t give them a satisfactory experience, you may lose way more than that one single customer. A bad review spreads fast now, so you need to innovate to the needs of your customer. Give them what they want and they’ll keep coming back.
Starting a business isn’t easy and it gets more difficult the deeper you go. But before you can meet all those later challenges, you need to rise above the initial one. Have a great idea that’s great for customers. Trust your vision and re-invest in yourself. Keep your eyes and ears and mind open to new ideas and be ready to make them into something great when opportunity arises. There’s no place for pride in business.