Ever wanted to be an entrepreneur? Have you had lots of business ideas but never taken action on them? Or felt a little unsure of where to even begin?
This was me.
Ever since I can remember I have always known that one day I would be my own boss. My parents have always owned and grown small businesses, so I grew up inspired by creativity, hustle and a mighty work-ethic. I was always the girl with lots of ideas. But the problem wasn’t the ideas. The problem was I never took action on them. This was not because I wasn’t driven or passionate but because I had absolutely no idea where to even begin.
I have read lots of books on entrepreneurship, listened to podcasts, spoken to founders and even studied commerce, but when it came to putting my learnings to practice it had always felt like such an overwhelming quest, and I just didn’t know where to begin.
That was until the summer of 2018. I was on uni break and decided that I was never going to know where to start unless I just started. The idea was to spend the summer being an entrepreneur, simply as a way to learn, to figure out how to get a business started and break my big-ideas-little-action habit (sound familiar?).
By the end of the summer, I had found my idea, persuaded my boyfriend to be my tech co-founder, built a product, created a landing page and had begun implementing a sales and marketing strategy — no big deal. After all this the top 4 things I learnt were…
1. Think of your idea as a starting point
Before my experiment, I used to get so bogged down on the ‘idea’. “Hmmm maybe people won’t like it”, “Ahhh but it has kind of already been done?” … you can see the pattern, maybe you can even relate to it yourself.
But what I have learnt is that the idea is simply the beginning, the first lego piece in a tower. When putting that first piece down you may think you know what the end result will look like but you really have no clue.
More ideas will come and your initial thought will morph into something similar, but most likely a little different — this is the exciting unknown of building a business.
Look at Instagram for example, when Kevin Systrom and Mike Krieger first started they actually built an app called Burbn. A location-based iPhone app that was extremely complicated for users, but easy to build. Whilst Burbn itself wasn’t a success this initial idea gave the founders a starting point from which they were able to pivot, eventually creating Instagram.
Moral of the story? When starting out don’t get too concerned about all the aspects of your idea. Start simple and lean and be open to your idea pivoting as you gain an understanding of product-market fit. In practicality, this means just putting up a website or starting that Instagram account because as Reid Hoffman (founder of LinkedIn) puts it
“if you’re not embarrassed by the first version of your startup, you launched too late.”
2. You don’t need to be a tech wiz to create a website
Having very little technical experience creating a landing page is something that was initially completely out of my comfort zone. This was so far into the unknown that when I first started I even had to google “What is a landing page?” — yep, we all start somewhere. But after a few hours googling and watching YouTube videos I very quickly came to grasp the basics, just enough to get me started. This is how I initially launched the site and then rubbed my head as I tried to understand why my website wasn’t appearing at number 1 on google — I was definitely a beginner and had a lot to learn about SEO.
Building your own website teaches you how to write your own copy, create a logo, an aesthetically pleasing design and for non-technical people, it is a great way to test your patience and resilience (I’ll let you figure out why when you create your own).
(Pro tip: Canva is really great for logos, Squarespace is amazing for making beginner friendly, aesthetically beautiful sites, you can buy a domain name on google domains and if you put some time into it even you will be able to get your site to number one on google.)
3. Accountability, it’s important — find a way that works for you
At any point in a business, accountability is important but at the beginning I feel it is almost crucial. Without keeping yourself accountable how will you ever build your idea into a product and then your product into a business? At the beginning this can also be the hardest part. After the initial phase of excitement and energy dies down how can you keep yourself accountable and ensure you keep churning out work?
As a people person, for me this is where working with a business partner became particularly important. Working with someone else ensures you have someone to update your progress and keep you on track. Other ideas can include joining and engaging in online Facebook and LinkedIn groups, using free tools such as Trello, creating a gantt chart or even simply telling your friends and family about what your working on — if you’re anything like me this itself will be enough to make sure you follow through.
4. Just do it — nothing beats experience
No matter what the thing is that you have been wanting to do just GO FOR IT! Don’t let time or money or any excuse hold you back as even if your “project” doesn’t turn into what you initially wanted I can guarantee (almost) that you will learn so much from the experience alone.
At the end of the day, you are never going to know until you do. You won’t know where to start or what your business will look like. But once you make that first move you will soon find all the answers and maybe even learn a thing or two along the way.
Want to see the business I created that summer? Have a look at Prosper
Love, Ruby xx