What to consider when starting a business from scratch

James Cookson

June 8, 2021

4 min
 read
When Elon Musk tweets about Dogecoin

Is entrepreneurship right for you?

Whether you start young, or you've worked the same job for decades, the principle for wanting to do things your way starts with realizing that both succeeding and failing (especially failing) towards your own dream is worth more to you than the risk of not trying at all. Often for some reason many people see it the other way around; that quitting your job and starting your own business is the bigger risk. I would argue that the biggest risk is taking the safe route your whole life and regretting it when it's too late. As someone who's both worked for a company as well as ran my own, I can say this honestly, I would rather fail everyday at my own goals then succeed at someone else's.

Now all of this said, entrepreneurship isn't for everyone, nor does everyone want it. But if you feel like building your own business is YOUR dream and you are willing to work hard enough to get it, then consider these 5 principles before you start:

1) Decide what your mission is

First and foremost, you need to choose what the overarching goal is of your company. It may seem like an obvious tip, but for many (including us) it's not. Often when someone is starting out, they think about the product they want to offer, or they think of a great idea that can make money but they don't consider why they want to run their particular business.

This is especially important when it comes to two critical parts of your business: development and advertising.

It's nearly impossible to develop a business you're not passionate about. Good ideas only get off the ground when the people behind them believe in it. Any good idea that either hasn't been done yet or hasn't been done right, is likely going to require a lot of time and effort. If you don't define your mission, it's very likely you won't see your project through till the end.

When it comes to marketing your business, your audience will see through the "buy me" ads. People get 10s to 100s of advertisements a day. A "good product" gets scrolled past 9 times out of 10. However, a good product with an obviously defined solution to their problem, can grab their attention.

In short, know why your business is the one you're passionate about and how it's going to help your customers.

2) Know your market

If you're a fan of "The Office" in episode 14, season 7 -> Kelly Kapoor, who recently gives herself the title, "The Business B*tch" calls her friend, "The Yale University (adjunct) Professor in Management, Scott Powell" who fumbles to provide the 10 secrets to business.

#1 on his list? "Know your market".

Now usually we don't take our business advice from a comedy series but in this case, Scott knows what he's talking about. If you're operating with the mentality that "my product works for everyone" then you're shooting yourself in the foot. Even if theoretically, your product(s) can work for the masses, selecting your primary market will make content creation, development, and advertising far more effective, especially off the start when you want to keep costs low.

Imagine you walk into a business expo and try to pitch your product to 50 different businesses. Likely they will all need it to work in different ways, thus you'll be spending a great deal of time tweaking your product and pitch to work for too many areas. Instead, consider a singular pitch to 50 similar businesses that can likely use the product you have already constructed for them as is, and your pitch (or marketing campaign) is likely to work at a higher percentage.

3) Don't get caught up in construction

I talk about this one more than anything, and we're culprits of it also. It's painfully easy to spend far too much time building your product, or as we like to call it, "internal development". Getting out there is key. Don't get me wrong, building and offering quality is never a bad thing but shooting for perfection is, considering that perfection is defined by your customers, not you. You can spend months to years developing your product only to find out that your market wants it a different way.

#timewasted

Get the skeleton built, talk to your niche, and get out there.

4) You're not Apple (Decide what you're good at)

Beginning entrepreneurs love to envision the billionaire lifestyle and idealize that their business is of the same stature right from the get-go. Trust us on this one, be the best at what you're good at - and be personable. Don't think that you're too big to engage with your followers on social media, or spend useless money or time trying to maintain some high-tier persona of a massive business when you're only starting out.

Instead, use your "new business" vibe as an asset. People love to "support local" and will likely have more understanding and patience for a small and beginning business. Play that card and ultimately be honest because people are often far more willing to spend money on something they actively support and is useful to them, rather than paying "the big guys" for a similar product.

5) Look for deals where you can find them

When you're starting out, saving money where possible is critical. From product dev to ad spend to accounting and year-end costs, salary, resources, etc. -> It gets crazy.

Look for the deals. 👀

Here are some common tasks paired with cheap or free solutions to consider:

Managing events - Google Calendar

Free

Create scheduled and recurring events for free. Makes managing your day-to-day a breeze.

Editing photos - Gimp

Free

A Photoshop alternative. Doesn't have all the bells and whistles but allows for several of the same layer and photo editing features, for free.

Building online forms - Fiiber

Free

Put together online forms with an easy-to-use form builder. Select from pre-made templates, add e-signatures and widgets & embed them directly on your website.

Creating social media posts - Canva

Free

Canva's social media post editor is really intuitive, works on mobile and desktop and lets you build posts from start to finish in minutes.

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