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20 practical ways to plan your start-up while you’re in your job

Here is an incomplete list of some things that that we have learnt over the past 10 months of getting Esc off the ground. There’s a lot more to it than this list and lots of these points deserve further explanation. What do you reckon?

1. Evolve the idea – sit on it, think about it in the shower, on the tube, on your weekends because it will undoubtedly change A LOT while you do.

2. Speak to people who know more than you

3. Listen politely to the people who don’t ‘get’ what you’re trying to achieve – even if they’re completely off the mark with their advice – there is a lesson there – probably in terms of how you are communicating your concept…

4. Find a partner – someone who you work really well with – you can’t underestimate how much easier (and more fun) this is than going it alone

5. Search the internet – really search it (we’re still finding sites that we wish we had seen ages ago)

6. Save money for when you really need it (even if it is just £10 per week  or all the way up to your entire salary bar the essentials)

7. Check 123 reg for the domain name and register it.  Even if you’re not set on the name – it’s a few pounds and you’ll regret it if it gets take

8. Read these essays by Paul Graham: 1) What start-ups are really like, 2) The 18 mistakes the kill start-ups, and 3) How to start a start-up

9. Go to Companies House and buy the company name (you don’t have to do any tax stuff or accounts until you properly start trading)

10. Start a blog about your concept and develop your ideas in public (uncomfortable at times but worth it in terms of how it develops your thinking)

11. Use the blog, Twitter, Facebook, etc to reach out to people in the same space – share ideas and information with them – you’ll be surprised at how willing people are to help.

12. Write a pretend business plan just to test some of the concepts – does it feel doable? Realistic? Would you be comfortable showing it to someone?

13. Read absolutely masses. Buy lots of books (go to the library / use the internet if you’re on a budget).  When you read something relevant (or not even that relevant) and you’ve got your idea in the back of your mind – great things can happen

14. Arrange meetings with friends of friends who might be able to help you – there’s a certain point beyond which you’ve got to stop taking advice and start executing.  But at the beginning this is really valuable

15. Realise that no one can give you permission but yourself – this is really important – so many of us want approval from others before we start.  It’s better to ask forgiveness than to beg for permission.

16. Seth Godin. For some empowering inspiration read Seth’s blog (with your idea in the back of your head)

17. Don’t worry about your lack of experience – naivety and passion is not to be underestimated – you won’t be limited by the dogma and limitations of other peoples’ thinking

18. Start with the problem you’re trying to solve – understand it – then work out the solution – the best businesses do it this way round (rather than having an amazing product and being convinced that there is a need for it)

19. Don’t worry if your idea doesn’t conform to an established product or service – invent your own (ok, I stole this one from gapingvoid.com but it’s great advice)… with the technologies we have access to today there is NO SET WAY of doing things

20. Finally – keep the business model simple…. this is slightly contradictory to the previous point… innovate the hell out of your product or service but, when it comes to getting paid for what you’re doing, stick to tried and tested means. There are a lot of business models out there. Pretty much everything has been tried before. Don’t go way out on a limb with a new way of getting cash out of your prospective clients’ pockets!

What else? We’re still learning – will let you know how it goes…

  • http://thenextchallenge.org Tim Moss

    Number 3 is spot on and I try my very best to do this one.

    And my favourite is Number 17: “naivety and passion is not to be underestimated”

  • http://www.enterprisenation.com Emma Jones

    I can’t be doing with people who plug their own things in the comment box but .. on this .. I’m not sure I can resist. What you could also do if you’re in a job and building a business on the side is buy a book that was written just for you and came out 5 weeks ago – it’s called ‘Working 5 to 9 – how to start a successful business in your spare time’ and it comes with stories of 60 successful 5 to 9’ers.

    Sales pitch over :-)

  • Bonnie

    Great Blog x