Written by Irina Belsky
It’s that resolution making time again and everyone can benefit from this seemingly tedious activity, even such unconventional people as entrepreneurs.
So here is a list of tips to make your 2012 even more unconventional, productive and educational.
1. If you’re involved in a tech startup and know nothing about coding - learn. It’s easier than you think. It’s all well and good if you have a technical co-founder but even then, knowing some basics about coding will give you a better understanding of the process. If you know more, you can contribute more and, hey, you might be able to come up with some nifty functionalities based on your new found insights.
2. If you haven’t already done it, just do it. Whether it’s hiring or firing someone, whether its bootstrapping, begging for more funding or re-designing your entire website from scratch because it needs to be done, just do it. Startups are a high risk scene and that means risk is part of the deal so don’t be afraid of it.
3. Learn what you need, where you can and don’t pay for it. Yes, the phrase “minimising costs” is one we are all familiar with and it applies to everything, including getting the right knowledge. If you can’t find the right knowledge/skills/advice online, do a short course at a community college or at TAFE. These are the more cost efficient ways to learn the things you need.
4. Connect to the startup community. There are two types of entrepreneurs - those who work in isolation and operate on a ‘need-to’ basis and those who tap into the broader community, that’s bursting with relevant information. The upside of this latter approach is that knowledge is much more accessible when it is provided to you directly by other people. Once you are linked to the broader entrepreneurial network in your area you can seek out the right knowledge more efficiently. After all, you’ll be connected to like minded people and events aimed at helping startups.
5. Trust yourself. If you know you need help to create your business, admit it. Don’t waste months or years of your life trying to start a business that has no potential or can’t be effectively monetized. Join an incubator program or participate in a startup camp. A startup camp will help you ask the right questions to distinguish between a good and a bad business idea. An incubator program will give you structured advice and a set of steps to follow to develop your business.
6. Don’t enter into an incubator/accelerator program if you know you can do it on your own. To enter such a program you will need to give up your equity (usually between 6-8%) and if there is no strong justification to do so, why do it?
7. Read startup media. Not only is it filled with useful advice, it’s a great way to stay on top of what is happening both locally and internationally. By reading the latest news and developments you can find out about new government grants, co-working spaces or overseas schemes for startups.
8. Pitching is important. So go to pitching events like the Peter Farrell Cup and Innovation Bay and see what makes a pitch amazing. If you have no time to hop from event to event, youtube TechStars and watch the pitches online. Then bring it all back to your own pitch and think about ways to make it better.
9. Build your brand from day one after figuring out your product market fit. Set up social media channels for your business and learn how to speak to the media. Remember if no one knows about your business you won’t get customers. If no one likes or identifies with your brand, you won’t retain customers.
10. Prioritize your ‘must-dos’ over your ’should-dos’ every day. You may have a thousand tasks to complete when you’re starting a business but they don’t all have to be done in one day. A big part of time management is focus. Choosing to do the things that need to be done immediately and forgetting completely about the things that can wait. Otherwise you’ll eventually go crazy.
11. Exercise and eat well. At the risk of sounding like a hippie I will say that the body and mind are one. So the way you treat one will definitely impact the other. Don’t gorge on junk food when you know you have a document to go through, a phone call to make, a contract to draw up or a meeting to go to. Preferably exercise before doing any of the above. If something has gone wrong and you’re so stressed you’re on the brink of being carted off to a mental ward, take the day off and do a mighty session at the gym. Seriously.
12. Never assume anything. Assumptions lead to miscommunication. And you do not want any miscommunication in the early stages of your business, especially when it comes to dealing with current and perspective customers.
Above all else, do what makes you happy. Think about what worked for you last year and what didn’t and build your new year around that knowledge.
Are there any resolutions you would like to add the list? We’d love to hear what your plans are for improving your entrepreneurial self this year.