An Entrepreneurial New Year

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An Entrepreneurial New Year

January 10, 2017

This is the year. The year when you are going to make you side hustle your main gig. The year you start working for yourself. The year your great idea becomes the next big thing.

Excellent! Make that vision board, write down your goals and

1. Ask yourself, what problem am I trying to solve? I know, you’ve created the best solution ever. It will make millions of people’s lives better. People don’t even know how much they need this amazing product/service. The real questions are: What problem are you solving? For whom are you solving it? Are they willing to pay for the solution? (See also, Talk to Customers)

2. Talk about your idea. Chances are that on a planet with more than 7 billion people, you are not the first person to have this idea. You may, however, be the only one with the stamina, team, capital and plan to make it happen. That means even if you have one too many cocktails at the next meet-up and overshare about your amazing idea, the likelihood of someone stealing that idea and successfully executing (creating, launching, iterating, building scaling) it are slim to none. You can tell people about your idea without giving away the secret sauce. Trust me! You need feedback. Talk about your idea. Get feedback. Repeat.

3. Talk to Customers. Yes, talk about your idea with potential team members, mentors, friends, colleagues, strangers, etc. AND talk to prospective customers – but not about your idea, per se. Instead, ask your potential customers something like, the last time you had to (solve this problem) how did you go about it? What worked? What didn’t work? Are you happy with your current solution? How did you (your company) make the decision to buy? What would a new product/service need to do to get your attention or make you switch? Listen. Iterate. Repeat.

4. Don’t do it alone. The self-made entrepreneur is a myth. Everyone needs a team. EVERYONE. If your idea is in your area of expertise you are likely a technical founder – you can create your new thing. You still need business, operations, marketing, finance, sales, legal, accounting, etc. folks on your team. If you are a non-technical founder (perhaps you want to create an app but don’t know how to code) you need all those folks AND a technical co-founder. You have to meet these people – build your network, share/sell your idea, “date” prospective advisors, service providers, employees, investors, etc. Remember, your idea will be judged, in part, on the team you have been able to assemble. (see also Talk About Your Idea)

5. Remember, you don’t have to do it alone. No matter where you live there is someplace –a local chamber, small business development center, university, economic development organization, SBA office, SCORE, etc. where you can get help with forming, starting and managing your business. In St. Louis, you have an entire ecosystem of people, places and organizations that exist to help you validate your business model (see also What Problem Am I Trying to Solve), connect you with mentors, create a business plan, build your network and, in some cases, fund your venture. Not sure where to start? Check out the Square One Ignite and Boot Camp programs at CET and poke around our Startup Tool Kit for lots of other resources.