5 Clever Start-Up Lessons That’ll Help You Build Your Own Business
Got a cool idea for a business of your own? Whether it’s an artisan bakery, a service that’ll revolutionize dog walking, or your own web design firm, you’re not alone: The latest stats show that roughly 15 million Americans are now self-employed. And for millennials—currently the generation with the largest presence in the work force—the expectation for flexible, self-determined work is becoming the new norm.
The good news? Given the economy’s shifting paradigm and the rise of the freelance lifestyle, it’s more possible than ever to build your own business, and working life, from scratch. Once you’ve set up the perfect home office, downloaded these essential financial apps, and mastered the art of the to-do list, you’re almost ready to get started. All that’s left is a crash-course in modern business basics. With these essential start-up lessons, you’ll be ready to beat the competition, nail your idea—and hopefully hit the big-time.
RESEARCH IS YOUR FRIEND
Start-ups frequently function as “disruptors”—from Airbnb (which switched up how you discover new cities) to Spotify (which changed the way you listen to your fave tunes), to well, Zipcar, of course. But if you’re looking to follow suit—and break the rules by striking out with a bold new idea—then you’ve gotta know your industry inside and out first. Think of it like Picasso: He couldn’t have created his mind-blowing canvases without first having classical art training.
PEOPLE ARE YOUR GREATEST RESOURCE
Beyond the array of materials and advice that’s available online, personal connections and mentorships are one excellent way of gaining industry insight. And tech is here to make it easier: LinkedIn just released a new, free service that functions with Tinder-like swipes…except instead of dates, you’ll have the chance to meet professionals who could help take your ideas to the next level. SCORE is another savvy platform that’s all about fostering personal business connections, sans awkward networking events. For budding entrepreneurs, that’s a big win.
OBSERVE THE EVERYDAY
If you’re bursting with creative business ideas—but struggle to know which to pursue—pay attention to start-up lessons. Many of the most successful start-ups have found a niche within our day-to-day frustrations and annoyances. Want to keep tabs on who’s swiping your packages while you’re at work? Enter August. Need a hand hanging that framed poster? TaskRabbit, stage right. If you’re able to offer a clever and creative solution to a routine inconvenience—especially one that hasn’t been addressed before by other platforms—you might just be on to something.
Speaking of creativity: In 2017, your business’s design and aesthetics need to be on-point. That means consistent branding, an eye-catching logo, a strong social media presence, and a sleek UX. If your business will primarily live online, follow the start-up model and use A/B testing throughout your development process to ensure everything about your platform is accessible and intuitive. And even if it’s IRL, the look and feel still matter. Rope in some friends, family, or pro-level market research participants to get feedback every step of the way, whether you’re testing ice cream flavors or pitching a new live-streaming service (and do your best to take any criticism on board, too).
Criticism brings us to our next point. As Samuel Beckett once said: “Ever tried. Ever failed. No matter. Try again. Fail again. Fail better.” It may not sound like particularly cheery advice, but actually, it’s become a tenet for numerous start-ups—and could make a big difference to your outlook as your business grows.
Taking failure in stride doesn’t just help you cultivate a thicker skin, it’s also key to honing the nimbleness and flexibility that start-ups are known for. Don’t be afraid to alter your business plan as you go, rather than locking yourself into something that isn’t working. It turns out that starting small can be a BIG advantage.
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