Steve Jobs once said, “I’m convinced that about half of what separates successful entrepreneurs from the non-successful ones is pure perseverance.” At iStart, we agree. You see, starting a business should not be a one-time event. It is a journey that is achieved over time.
You can read all the articles there are on what to expect when starting a business, but we have not read many that have adequately represented the length of time it takes to achieve success. Business start-up success can be defined in many ways, but to us it describes a profitable business with the stability to stand the test of time. We do not want this length of time to be received as a bad thing, more of a realization for those wanting to begin this journey. Keeping that in mind, many businesses can easily be started part-time, while you are still employed somewhere else. I understand that suggesting that you continue your day job while starting a business on the side is asking a lot of you, but we assure you that the time and energy you spend making sure your business’ foundation is successfully laid is worth the sustainability it has long-term.
In order to create an ageless start-up, we suggest takings these four steps slowly but surely.
Step 1: Lay Your Foundation
Ageless start-ups should begin with a foundation that keeps sustainability in mind. When it comes to the foundation of your budding business, we want you to focus on the big picture of your organization. The big picture is often the ultimate goal of your organization. We want this big picture to not only be created, but to always be kept close by so that it can help drive you to make sure that you are always effectively reaching for your companies’ overall goal. This is important because we often get stuck worrying about the small and tedious roadblocks we face, which is easy to do. Sometimes the main encouragement you will have is being able to step back and remember why you started in the first place.
As you lay your foundation, we want you to create a rough outline of your business model. At iStart, we use a lean business model which allows entrepreneurs to better understand elements within their business such as the market opportunity, value proposition and unfair advantage, revenue streams, key metrics, ideal customer, customer channels, and major expenses. When laid out, all of these elements accelerate businesses to reach profitability.
Step 2: Map Out User Journey
Dave Thomas, the founder of Wendy’s, was known for saying that one of his three keys to success was knowing his customer, because when you know your customer you will always be able to deliver solutions that they need. It is important to consider your user and thus dig further into your business plan as you lay out your users’ journey. When you are about to define this flow, you can preemptively address concerns they may encounter as they reach their end goal.
When creating a user journey, you should plan to identify the user, identify the action (jobs), and identify the story ending. An example of a journey would be: User – pet adopter, Actions – build a profile, find a pet, book appointment, and apply, and lastly, the Story Ending – taking the pet home.
As you walk through this journey it is important to take the process above to further narrow down any pains or trouble they may encounter in the process.
Step 3: Connect
So, you have made it this far without a mentor and that is okay. However, now is the time to seek back-up support and to focus on networking with other individuals in your industry. Networking is a valuable way to further your knowledge while gaining information about tips and triumphs. These individuals can help you find solutions to your current roadblocks or help you achieve goals that would have never been possible alone.
Networking is also beneficial as it raises your profile in your industry leading to credible word-of-mouth referrals/leads. These leads are ones that you would have never been able to acquire on your own. Networking is essentially press that you did not have to pay for, and when presented like that, how could you not want to embark on that opportunity?
Step 4: Practice Makes Perfect
I once heard someone say, “Don’t practice until you get it right. Practice until you can’t get it wrong.” This is true. When professionals begin an ageless start-up business, they continually practice. They strive for perfection day in and day out. In turn, they grow larger and as their need for service increases, they change and innovate as well. It is important to consider that your business will never be complete. There will always be way to improve and flourish. Seeing ways you can improve is important for ageless start-ups and they do not signify failure. EVERY BUSINESS HAS ROOM FOR IMPROVEMENT. EVERY SINGLE ONE. Choosing to ignore the ways you can find improvement is asking to not stand the test of time. The tried and true ageless start-ups are successful because they have spent years continuously seeking ways to create value for their customers.
As you start your organization and are slowly working your way through these steps, I want you to truly focus on step four. Focus on obtaining research and being able to understand your market well enough to thrive in it, while creating value for your users. Keep in mind, your competitors will not rest in their business and neither should you. Always continue to push towards more.
If you have a great idea for a company and are overwhelmed with where to being, give us a call. At iStart, our business accelerator program focuses on developing a lean start-up business by defining all of the elements necessary to produce a minimum viable product for quick acceleration. We work with early stage start-ups to help guide then through the start-up roadblocks by personalized mentorships and our core curriculum.