So You Want To Be An Entrepreneur in 2018? Ask Yourself These 10 Questions Before You Start.
As the end of the year approaches it’s often a time for people to assess their life and career goals and for many this means taking the leap into the rollercoaster ride that is entrepreneurship.
“Entrepreneurs — the only people that are willing to work 80 hours a week, to avoid working 40 hours a week for someone else.” Lori Greiner
For the last 10 years I’ve mentored and coached hundreds of startup founders through this early stage and I see the same thing again and again.
It’s all too easy to do the easy things.
We can all send out surveys, predict revenues (it’s called fiction) and plan out the perfect office space. However if you’re serious about being your own boss, it’s time to get comfortable being uncomfortable.
The real work you should be doing is asking yourself the difficult questions – those that typically mean looking inward for the answers.
For those willing to do the work though, there’s a path of clarity and purpose ahead. And a brand and company culture built on authenticity. Ready?
Q1: Why the f**k am I actually doing this?
Entrepreneurship isn’t easy
There are undoubtedly easier ways to earn a living. But, if like me, you’re a terrible employee and would rather inject your eyeballs with vodka than work for someone else, then you don’t have too many other options.
Before taking your first step though, really take time to understand why you want to be your own boss.
What’s driving this big idea? How will your world — and the world — look different when you’re done?
By taking time to reflect on, and define the purpose behind your idea, you’ll not only attract the right customers but you’ll also get more clarity as to what you should be working on.
It will help you to know what’s in and what’s out.
Q2: What can’t I do?
Constraints are your friend
At the beginning the world will be your oyster, but this can mean too many options. And one of the things that kills energy at the beginning is procrastinating over making decisions.
True innovation happens when the options are limited — fewer resources breeds creativity.
So, work out which constraints are your friend. Got kids? Then base your new working life around school hours. Hate office politics? Build a remote team. See these limitations as a positive, not negative and you’ll develop better ideas faster.
Q3: What will I never do?
Put a stake in the ground
On our Startup Home School we ask all our students to make a list of things they’ll never do.
Often founders find it hard to think of their values, but find it easier to decide upfront what it is that would clash with their vision for their life and business.
For instance at The Happy Startup School we’ll never:
- Run an event in a soulless conference centre (we prefer mountains)
- Hire someone we wouldn’t want to go on vacation with
- Choose work over family commitments
These pledges will help to highlight what’s important to you, and ultimately lead you to the values you hold dear and clarity on what matters.
Q4: Who would I love to serve?
Building your true fans
If you’re to build a successful business, you’ll need people to buy your product or service. But sometimes people end up serving audiences that they can’t relate to or even like.
Our community is proof that if you love the people you’re working for and understand their world, then the bonds you create will be unbreakable and will lead to loyalty unprecedented in the business world.
So who’s your dream customer?
Q5: Who’s got my back?
Find your tribe
If there’s one thing first-time entrepreneurs underestimate it’s the loneliness you can feel when putting your heart, and money, on the line. So, it’s crucial that you have some soulmates who understand you.
You can have loving friends and family but more often than not they don’t understand what it takes to go against the grain and do something different. So, surround yourself with likeminded people who will be your support in the early stages and beyond.
“I’ve found my tribe. A space to learn from beauties – teachers, buddies, mentors – that see amazingness in other people’s nuttiness.” Rula, London
Q6: Do I really want this?
Resilience is key
If you really believe in your idea, then you’ll have to persevere even when everyone around you thinks you’re insane.
There’s a fine line between belief and delusion, but you’ll know when the time is right to walk away. Don’t let others decide this for you. Some of the most successful businesses hit rock bottom and spent years hustling before they became an ‘overnight’ success.
Q7: Would I do this for the next 10 years? Aside from the 💰
All great things take time
Would you want to do this if money was no object? Is this an obsession that won’t go away?
I’ve had tons of ideas for businesses, but only when I ask myself this question do I get a clearer sense of my commitment to the idea.
We tested out many ideas before The Happy Startup School was born. But when this came to us, it just had to happen. As the vision was so strong, we had firm belief the money would follow.
Q8: How can I be proven wrong?
Think like a detective
Despite what many people think, entrepreneurs aren’t great risk takers. If anything, they’re more cautious than most – they hate failure but see it as part of the creative process.
They want to make any failures small, so therefore work hard at the beginning — not to be proven right — but to be proven wrong. They know that bad news gets worse the longer you leave it.
So the sooner you can find out issues with your product, the faster you can improve and reach your goals.
Q9: Do I really give a shit about this problem?
Behind every big problem is a big opportunity
To increase your chances of success, create a painkiller, not a vitamin. Consider which problem you’re willing and ready to take on.
Apurva Kothari didn’t want to start a business. He knew nothing about clothing. But he started No Nasties to play his part in addressing the cotton farmer suicide crisis affecting India, where to date 300,000 famers have lost their lives unnecessarily.
Q10: How will I look after myself?
Put on your own life jacket first
If you’re too stick at it and have fuel for the long haul, you’ll need to look after number 1. How will you look after yourself physically and mentally? Whether it’s mindfulness, yoga, walking your dog or floating in a ton of salt, you’ll need to find your thing to get the perspective and space you need to stay calm, clear and sane.
The most important thing? Just start starting things.
You never know where it will take you but it will be a fun ride. And you’ll have some stories to tell the grandkids of stuff you did, rather than didn’t do.
At The Happy Startup School we have programs, experiences and a ready-made community that can help you turn your crazy dream into a reality.