Starting a company from scratch isn’t easy. In fact, starting a company is hard. If it were easy, everyone would be doing it, right? Starting a business is an administrative activity that requires a couple of bucks and entails some procedures. However, even doing this extremely well will not guarantee success.
Being an entrepreneur is about having a learning mindset. At the end of the day you want to solve a problem for people who are willing to pay for it and to find a repeatable and scalable business model. Make the right decisions and you will be able to build a profitable company later.
Validate First, Build it Later.
If you are going to start building your dream, you must be aware that it will be extremely challenging. You will need more drive, motivation and resilience than you ever thought you had. Start by doing an introspection exercise.
Some people are not entrepreneurs
And that is fine. If you are not an entrepreneur, you can still do amazing stuff. Innovation within a corporate, intrapreneurship, (new) business development, the list goes on and on…
You must be prepared to face adversity. Typically people either feel intimidated or are resilient and keep on going. Look back at your life and identify moments of adversity, how did you react? If resilience is a characteristic of your personality, you probably view adversity as a temporary setback.
How do you deal with pressure? As an entrepreneur you will be subject to a lot of stress. You will be the focal point for many people that are relevant to your business; be ready for it.
You’ll have to deal with a level of accountability you may not be used to. There is no boss to rely upon or to get advice from. You should develop a network of like-minded individuals and resort to advisors and coaches. But at the end of the day, you are accountable for all decisions shall anything go wrong.
You may also feel quite lonely. You are the one in charge and you must always seem to be in control and be a leader. The long working hours, high level of accountability and lack of free time demand that you are able to handle some degree of loneliness. Anything that is worth fighting for comes at the cost of something else. It is quite common for entrepreneurs to struggle with the loss of friendships and relationships, coping with the effects. It is really important that you learn how to identify the effects of loneliness to take some personal time when needed and that you stick to your business decisions even when misunderstood or criticised by others.
Be sure you have a safety net
You must have a plan on how to survive if you are not making money for some time. In Brussels there are lot of subsidies, grants, etc, available for you to apply for. However, you are still over-dependent on third parties. Remember, “hope for the best but prepare for the worst”. Prepare your personal finances. I would generally recommend having enough for 24 months without a steady income. Don’t forget that this also includes the money needed to start the business.
It is really important you realise that the performance of your venture will strongly determine the amount of money you make and the kind of future you can build for yourself and your family. Having said this, it actually depends on what type of entrepreneur you are/want to be, and on the business you dream of building.
Nevertheless, if you are striving for a less risky venture, it’s always good to have a safety net. Simply put, find the right balance for yourself, your lifestyle, your family and your dream venture.
Having a safety net can also help you avoid seeking external investment too soon. This protects you from not being selective about who you want investing in your business, choosing the wrong angel route, not getting familiar with timing and objectives of investors, not having your data ready, signaling that you only care about the money, and so on.
Define your goals
It doesn’t really matter whether these are personal growth, income, self-improvement, lifestyle, ego gratification or company growth. Just make sure that they are SMART and balanced: long and short term. Keeping track of your progress will help you stay motivated when times get rough. It is also a great way to have an overview of where you started, where you are and where you are headed.
You need all the support you can get
Finally, get support from your friends and, specially, family. This will definitely help in staying motivated and having self-confidence. It is also very important that they understand this journey you are about to embark on. Take your time explaining to your loved ones what you are going to do and why. When times get tough, they will be there for you and know what to say.