From the Ground Up
Being an entrepreneur boils down to two things.
- Being prepared
- Rolling with the punches
And what I mean by this is you can’t be prepared for everything.
However, you can be prepared for most things. When something unexpected happens, you need to be able to pivot and change your path or overcorrect to get your company back on the right course.
This is what today’s post is all about. Everything an entrepreneur needs, both physically and with their mindset. Let’s roll.
We all know every new business starts with an idea. Unfortunately, it doesn’t stop there. You need to be a person with a million ideas.
Your business idea or the idea for a prototype is where it all starts. But you need ideas on how to put your company together, get funding, take your original idea from prototype to finished product, ideas on how to market the product, logo design, and the list goes on forever.
As an entrepreneur, you need to be a person who can come up with ideas for everything. You need to surround yourself with smart people, sure, but at the end of the day, you’re the leader of the organization and people are going to be looking to you for ideas.
Before you write up a business plan, you need to have a plan in your mind.
Plans are kind of “stage 2” when it comes to entrepreneurship. You have a lot of ideas in your head. How do you get them from your mind to something more concrete?
It all starts with a pen and paper. You should write everything down. Every. Thing. And you need to start right now.
When you’re in the basement working on a prototype or sitting at your computer writing content for a new website, you should be writing things down. Anything that pops into your head, write it down.
Also, I definitely recommend keeping a daily entrepreneurship and productivity journal. Every day, you should be writing down not just ideas, but what you actually accomplished. How much time did you spend on your projects today? Where were you most productive?
This may seem silly, but when it comes time to do some hiring, you need to realize where your weak points are and having notes will not just help with reflection, but will give you an idea of the positions you should hire for first.
Something as small as, “I have no idea how to market my product” as you’re reviewing your notes is a sign that a marketing position is one of the first you should hire. Before writing your business plan, review your notes to look for ideas on how you can woo investors. Keeping this journal as part of your business plan may also help.
When you present your plan, showing you’ve kept a journal from the get-go may show just how serious you are about your startup.
Your Business Plan
You can definitely hire someone to write a business plan for you. The rates on this vary from website to website, and you can even have one done on Fiverr. However, I do not recommend having anyone on that site write your business plan. You want to hire a legitimate consultant for this work and it’s not cheap.
When it comes to hiring independent contractors of any sort, you’re typically going to get what you pay for and if you’re bootstrapping your business, you’re probably better off writing the business plan yourself.
A business plan is all about the cold hard facts. Where are you now? What do you do? Why do you do it? How are you going to pay for it all? How many people are you going to hire and when?
If you want a loan or are looking for investors, you’re going to be talking to people who want to see results, so you’ll need to have a business plan that shows how you’re going to achieve them.
There is no such thing as a free lunch, right? No one is going to just hand you money and expect nothing in return. You believe in your product or service. The purpose of a business plan is to make loan officers or potential investors believe in it as well.
Here are the things every business plan should have.
- Executive summary – A brief overview
- Company description – This is where you can describe what you do and most importantly, why you do it
- Market analysis – Research on the industry, market, and even your competition
- Organization and management – Your business and management structure. What are you going to do yourself? What positions are you going to hire for and what’s going to be outsourced?
- Service or product – The products or services you’re offering
- Marketing and sales – How you’ll market your business and your sales strategy
- Funding request – How much money you’ll need for next 3 to 5 years. How much do you need immediately?
- Financial projections – Supply information like balance sheets
- Appendix- An optional section. You can include photos of products, licenses, any additional information the people reading this document may find interesting.
You want to keep this as short and sweet as you can. Make sure you have all of the necessary information. Present charts and graphs where applicable. Review your plan over and over again. Get friends and colleagues to take a look at it if they’re trustworthy and dependable.
Now What? – The Hard Work
You may think that once you have a product, a business plan, and some funding, the hard work is over. It’s all smooth sailing from here!
Unfortunately, this is not the case. We’re just getting started with the hard work. And there is a good chance you may still be working from your basement for a while.
I’m pretty sure this is the point where I stress how important it is to be careful with your funding. This money doesn’t last forever. If sales are slow, it’s not going to last long at all. You need to be frugal and focus on spending money when and where you need it most. Don’t cut yourself any checks. Don’t take any ridiculous vacations. Continue to work long hours and work hard.
This is your company and to get it off the ground you’ll need to grind harder than anyone else. You also need to be careful how hard you push employees. This isn’t their business and they won’t reap as much reward. You cannot expect them to care as much as you do.
Being a business owner requires you to carry a lot of weight on your shoulders and that isn’t going to change for a long time. As soon as you have your product or service ready to go, a successful business plan, and the money you need, then you need to mentally prepare for long days and long nights. It’s going to be lonely. It’s going to be hard.
But you can do it. You can be successful. And eventually, you won’t have to work as hard because some of the work will be handled by trained by employees, outsourced, or automated.
There are 3 areas of business that make many entrepreneurs cringe.
- Social Media
- Customer Service
I’ve seen it often. And to be honest, writing those three things down together was enough to send a shiver up my spine.
These things are paramount to having a successful business. You need to advertise and get the word out and you need to take care of your customers as well as your leads and prospects. To use a word that is one of the most overused in the business world, it’s overwhelming.
Not only is it overwhelming, but there isn’t anything you can do about it. These three things are huge and can make or break a startup.
I recommend hiring a social media manager as well as customer service staff as soon as possible. Marketing is a much different monster. There are ad and digital marketing agencies all over the place and at the end of the day, you’ll probably save some money by outsourcing this to professionals who have seen success with other businesses they’ve worked for. If you want to learn more about marketing, check out this site for a great article.
As much as I want to say I covered everything with this piece, I certainly didn’t.
I can write for days and weeks on everything a business needs to get off the ground and find success. However, we don’t live in a perfect world.
Sometimes, even when you do everything right, you will still fail.
Being an entrepreneur is all about learning from your failures, getting back on the horse, and trying again until you start a successful business. It has been done a million times in the past and it’s being done by someone just like you every day.