Simon Dunn is a Multichannel Retailer who has spent the last 15 years working for Sainsburys and Tesco and who recently escaped to set up his own e-commerce business. www.meetup.com/iStartup/ is a new community of people who are in the early stage of the starting their business, where members meet to discuss ideas and share their professional expertise to help each other’s startup journey.
OK, so you know you want your own business, but are struggling with what comes next. Still waiting for that bolt of lightning in the middle of the night to bring that genius idea, or have an idea, but can’t find the time to pursue it?
I’ve always wanted my own business, but spent the last 20 years waiting for the right idea and the right time. 6 months ago I finally decided it simply wasn’t going to happen by itself and committed the next 12 months to do it.
I’ve learned a lot since then, mostly that this huge task can be broken into a series of smaller steps which are much more manageable, and here are a few tips I’ve learnt so far:
Don’t just hope the big idea is going to come, make it happen
It may come on its own, but far more likely it won’t. Even if it does, its likely to change once you start talking to customers so don’t wait. Every product should solve a problem, so think about your frustrations and go and talk to friends, relatives, colleagues to see if its shared, and get specifics of what people want.
Use the free business model canvas and project tools at www.leanlaunchlab.com to think about how the problem could be solved, what value you will create and test it out. Talk to more people, ask if they agree, would they buy it?
Keep iterating and refining your idea until they say yes.
Fill your knowledge gaps
You have the perfect experience to do your current job, but most likely not to run a business. You will have skills and knowledge gaps so start filling these now. There are some great courses run by Escape the City, www.generalassemb.ly and www.westminster.the-hub.net so check out what you need.
If your idea has anything to do with the web its critical you develop at least a basic knowledge of how to build software or at least what’s involved. If you don’t you’ll struggle to talk to developers in the right language and be able to execute on your vision.
Also read up, starting with The Lean Startup by Eric Ries which gives a great grounding in how to quickly develop your idea into something Customers really want.
Network and surround yourself with others on the same journey
Don’t lock yourself away – develop an elevator pitch and talk to people. You need feedback from different perspectives to help you spot problems to fix and opportunities to help it grow.
Don’t be scared people will run off with your ideas. It’s a small risk, but the idea is only a small part of your business – its your ability and expertise to execute the plan and deliver for your customers which really counts.
Go out and find people who can give advice you value and who are on the same journey.
Make new contacts and friends now, not because need help now, but to expand your network for the future.
Pay it forward – offer help to others based on your own areas of expertise: when you do need help yourself people will be much more willing if they already know you.
Finally, there’s a lot of meet-up groups who can help so find one to suit your needs. If you are at an early stage and based in London then check out www.meetup.com/istartup/ – we have our first meeting on Wednesday
6th March focussed on Customer insight and Idea development.
We’ll also be asking everyone their ideas of what they want the group to focus on so we can shape future agenda to exactly what you need. We’d love to meet you and help you accelerate your start-up.