It’s the most often asked entrepreneurship question I can remember. For Quora, I had a few text blocks depending on the question. Today I put all the answer variations into one piece of blog post :)
If you want to start but don’t have a good idea:
Look for a problem you want to solve. You don’t need to have higher education and you don’t need to carry heavy rocks all day long to do that. You don’t even need any money for it. Just carefully observe how “hard” people work, very carefully listen to what they have to say, and begin to develop a solution. So that’s it at this stage. You don’t need money for that.
If you have an idea or just found out how to find one, here is what you may want to consider:
1) The Idea
Don’t overestimate the value of your idea. It is exactly zero. And therefore no need to fear your idea gets copied. Humans create on average 20,000 ideas in their lifetime. 99.999% get never executed. With over 7 Billion people that are 14 Trillen ideas to copy. Passion? It is for pussy cats. Value is created by **obsessive** and **relentless** execution – nothing else. As such share it with as many people as you can – every single day. You need that feedback more than anything else right now. And to amplify, use your social network. That doesn’t cost you anything.
Develop the best possible solution concept and presentation. Dream it in your head, spin it around. Don’t let you distract from thinking about what it cost, what resources you would need, how much time you would need, and what problems could occur. Always remember: If you can imagine it in your brain – you can build it with what you have and some other people’s help. So this was not that hard either? Right? You don’t need money for that.
Find your co-founders. Very smart people that compliment you. Look for people that hate to do what you love doing and love to do what you hate doing. Put all your savings into this new company and request (insist) your co-founders do the same. Again no hard work at all. You don’t need money from others for that – but risk everything you have. If you don’t – why should others.
4) Idea Validation
Together with your co-founder(s) validate your concept with 42 people you think would have a huge benefit from your product or service. If you can’t find them, find out if you are skilled enough to look for them or if the market doesn’t exist. Decide if you want to continue and build it up. It’s that easy. You don’t need money for that.
5) Prototyping & Crowdfunding
Together with your co-founder(s) build your first prototype and show it to everybody and their dog and get feedback. This is where you use the money you invested. Let people pre-order products (crowdfunding) so you get the liquidity and cash flow to build your first production batch. Start a social media campaign and get more feedback. If this was successful, you know you are able to create demand, whether there is already a market or not. Now you have already customers and revenue before you even talked to any investor. If not successful it’s either because you did not learn how to crowdfund (Search on google) or there is no interest for your product.
6) Growth Capital
Now is the time you may look for investors and funding to grow. As you have already pre-orders and good feedback, you validated your idea, funding is not a problem. And that was not hard either. When getting capital use it EXCLUSIVELY to grow your business don’t waste it for technology upgrades. Keep running with your weak product (and it is weak) for the next few months and grow revenue. Get at least 1,000 feedbacks from your users and improve rapidly. Offer to upgrade for free.
This is more or less how the top startups in the world did it. and so did we.
The most important keys:
A) Entrepreneurial mindset to solve a problem that many other people have.
10 most relevant founders traits
B) Never do it alone – always run with a co-founder that is NOT your best friend.
Best founders are co-founders
C) Forget the money part, if you need money to make money – you are an investor but not an entrepreneur.
Building a startup is relatively easy and you will find incubators, mentors, business angels, and other helping hands in your vicinity. All the above steps you and your co-founder(s) can do on your own.
Hope that help
Growth & Scale
The first real challenge for young entrepreneurs: Grow and scale an innovative business. You will find many good posts for this next phase in your life as an entrepreneur.
You may want to consider joining the World Innovations Forum, the global exchange for innovative minds, as a 007 entrepreneur to grow and scale your company.