We know that it can be confusing to know what you should focus on in the early stages of starting your own business. Therefor Anna Branten from Ideon Innovation have put down the 10 most important steps for you, so that you after reading this can get out there and follow your dream!
It's really important to put your energy into it and let your imagination loose. What do you actually want to do, and how do you want to live? It doesn't have to be as simple as you want to be self sufficient, it can be more abstract thoughts like taking control over your own life, create meaning or live in a different way. Don't be scared to dream big and think about these questions. If you do so it will be easier to be bold when you start your entrepreneurial journey, and easier to have a clear vision even when you'll go through tough times.
Surround yourself with enthusiasts and talk all the time
Find some nice people! The so called truth tellers can wait a little while, you will need them also but later on. Remember to talk about your idea all of the time, to all sorts of positive people, in all sorts of places. By doing so you will soon gather important information that you will need in order to move forward. Try also to speak about your idea like it is a fact. ”I am developing… etc” rather than ”I might maybe…” If you do so, people you talk to will be more focused on helping you with your idea rather than pep talk you into getting the courage to do it.
Finding a customer
You need to find a customer, even when you're at the early stages of developing your idea. A friendly customer can help you define the customer need. Start by going to the first person in your network you think would be interested in your product or service, and that person could also lead you to likeminded. Encourage them to be honest in telling you what you're doing right as well as what you're doing wrong. People are willing to help more than you might think, and often enjoy being early adopters of new innovations!
Quick, cheap and small
You don't have to quit your every day job, take a huge loan or write grand business plans. Think like this instead: how quickly can I produce a prototype of my product or service, and how can I do it as cheap as possible so that I can try and see how it works? It's really important that you fail quickly so that you can succeed even faster.
Imagine that you are playing! There is nothing that says that you need to know everything on beforehand. When you play it's easier to be relaxed when something goes wrong. As long as you have an honest dialogue with your customers it won't be a problem. Your early adopters know that you are going through a developing face, and are also playing the part of a customer during these early days.
Kill your darlings
Be really attentive and listen to voices of your customers. Redo things even if that means you are changing the ground purpose of your idea. You need to be open to the fact that the market will always tell you how your idea works the best.
Set your goals
If it's difficult to work with a quantifiable goal in the early stage, you can focus on the more abstract proofs that can give you an important understanding of where you are in your developing process. It can for example be how you would like it to be when you encounter with a customer. Maybe you would like them to be more interested, more open and listen more. When you feel that you have reached that goal you have also reached a state of mind that is proof of you being on the right track.
Don't forget to collect stories all the time! It can be funny anecdotes, what you have meant for a customer or personal breakthroughs. Make other people talk about you and your idea and collect those stories. This will give you valuable content that can be used in your marketing. Nowadays it is more important than ever to stick out in the crowd, and to do so the customer need to be moved by and identify with your idea. The stories that have collected will give you a personal touch and will help you in reaching out.
The time has now come for taking the step from playing to doing things for real. If 1-8 is showing you that you are on the right track it is time to take the leap from playing to doing it for real (if not, start over again). This can for example be by launching a webpage which will make your idea present to the public. But remember - you can't do everything yourself. First you need to figure out what it is you want to say, and what feeling you want to mediate. Then reach out and get help with creating your brand, as there are experts who really knows what the target audience likes. Try to do this as cheap as possible. Many freelance designers are happy to work with startups for a low cost, as they are themselves building their own portfolio and brand.
Reflection and results
Always have an eye on where you are in the process and if you're on a steady path towards your goals and visions. It's ok to change your vision as you go, since you are always learning new things. Let the vision be alive! It's also ok to change your business plan, and to make adjustments on the way, but in order to do so you have to check and see where you're at. You can ask people for help with this, and collaborate with people if that is needed. And don't forget - If you feel that something is wrong, or if things turned out in a completely different way than you imagined, it's ok to quit or change things on a large scale. Don't see it as a failure, but as a fantastic experience on way. Keep dreaming!
Hopefully you feel ready to get out there are build a company now! But don't forget - we provide all the help regarding all of these 10 steps, as well as coaches, a huge network, a creative workspace and all the coffee you need. We are an incubator in Lund and we really look forward to here more about your idea. Feel inspired? Reach out to us!