When young entrepreneurs approach me looking for advice on getting their businesses off the ground, I can’t help but feel excited and energized. Their commitment to forging their own paths in life is awe-inspiring and I truly love hearing about their ideas. To ensure they’re on the right track for success, I provide them with these eight pieces of advice.
- Identify a gap in the market… This might be stating the obvious, but it’s perhaps one of the most valuable pieces of advice that’s often overlooked – especially considering the number one reason why startups fail is due to misreading market demand.
- Know your audience… Quick hint here – your audience will never be ‘everyone’. There will always be a demographic that your product or service is better suited for, so identifying who that might be is key. Market research will help you identify the wants, needs, behaviours, and attitudes of your target audience and how your product or service will serve them best.
- Never underestimate the power of a solid business plan. Having a clear vision and focus while staying objective is paramount if you want to be taken seriously and have any chance of your startup getting off the ground (and staying off the ground).
- Road-test your idea -This is where the fun starts! Road testing your idea can really help you get to know your business idea and what changes are needed before going public.
- Embrace feedback and learn from your mistakes. First of all, nobody is a born entrepreneur. We all learn by making mistakes and it’s being able to accept constructive criticism and feedback that’s key for helping your business to move forward and stay competitive.
- Build a strong network. From your peers to your lecturers, it’s important to recognise the value and experience they can offer for you and your startup. Make the most of networking opportunities in your degree from networking events to industry talks, internships, and even coffee morning catch-ups. It doesn’t always have to be in a professional setting, just getting to know your peers on a casual level can transform into a professional working relationship.
- Have your finances in good order. You might not have all the money (at the moment), but that doesn’t mean you can’t be smart with the funds that you do have when starting up your business. It’s important to have a sound knowledge of managing all financial aspects of the business and prepare for every possibility to help keep your business alive.
- Get a mentor. Perhaps the most obvious benefit of finding a business mentor is that you can learn from their previous mistakes and successes. Your mentor doesn’t need to have experience in your particular industry—though it helps if they do. Your mentor’s role is to share with you lessons from their experience in the hopes that you can learn them quickly and easily.