Start Your Entrepreneurship Journey in 2021.
Starting a business is a huge commitment. Entrepreneurs often fail to appreciate the significant amount of time, resources, and energy needed to start and grow a business.
How can you take charge of your own future in the face of a long-running pandemic that has crushed economies, markets, businesses and lives? Waiting is not going to cut it – waiting for more government stimulus, waiting for the virus to magically disappear, waiting for customers to suddenly come back. The most successful entrepreneurs are not sitting it out. This past year has seen an explosion of newly launched small businesses and startups. America has done this better and faster than nearly any other country. At heart what we are seeing is the value of innovative mindsets and practices. Ready or not, entirely new challenges will confront you in 2021. It’s time to go all-in, to go full entrepreneur.
Tips On How To Get into Entrepreneur In 2021
Be Who You Are
The part of your business success in large can be based on you as an entrepreneur and your own understanding about you. You care about your customers because you want to understand and fulfill their needs. When the world suffers a cataclysmic disruption, entrepreneurs see opportunity. They know that customers are more open to new products and services, especially those with more novel propositions. Our first tip is a simple but essential one. Embrace your identity with passion and creativity. The crisis and lockdowns have afforded many of us the time and space to discover who we are, and what we want in life, love and work. Entrepreneurs come in different flavors, Have the courage to specialize. Knowing your archetype is like knowing that you are a shortstop, wide receiver, or drummer. Once you gain that self-awareness, you can lean into your path.
Connect With Others
Being able to work with others is an important part of being an entrepreneur. In fact, business leaders, academics and researchers who study entrepreneurship recognize collaboration and information sharing as important as more obvious skills such as opportunity recognition and determination. Collaboration is a powerful tool for all small business owners, regardless of the industry you are in or the type of business you have. It is the connections you form with others, and the different ways you collaborate with those people you formed connections with, that will help you grow your business to new levels. Entrepreneurship is a team sport. Ask almost any VC, and they’ll tell you they invest in teams over ideas. Why? Because execution distinguishes the winners from the also-rans. Before you get started, consider the team you can gather around you. Yes, collaboration can be difficult these days. The pandemic has put the brakes on the core traditional ways that entrepreneurs used to come together to pursue opportunities – everything from accelerators, incubators and university programs, to pitch nights and meet-ups. Fortunately, this personal challenge is surmountable. You must be more proactive and creative about finding people with whom to share ideas – either remotely or in a safe in-person setting. But you’ll need to act fast. Because the teams being created now and in the coming weeks and months will be stronger, more capable and more likely to succeed. So get out there. Create a team or join one. New technologies and habits have made distributed collaboration easier than ever.
Protect Your Personal Assets by Forming the Business as a Corporation or LLC
You may start a business as a “sole proprietorship,” which can result in your personal assets being at risk for the debts and liabilities of the business. You will almost always want to start the business as an S corporation (giving you favorable flow through tax treatment), a C corporation (which is what most venture capital investors expect to see), or a limited liability company (LLC). None of those are particularly expensive or difficult to set up. My personal preference is to start the business as an S corporation, which can then easily be converted to a C corporation as you bring in investors and issue multiple classes of stock.
Focus on Building a Great Product—But Don’t Take Forever to Launch
When starting out, your product or service has to be at least good if not great. It must be differentiated in some meaningful and important way from the offerings of your competition. Everything else follows from this key principle. Don’t drag your feet on getting your product out to market, since early customer feedback is one of the best ways to help improve your product. Of course, you want a “minimum viable product” (MVP) to begin with, but even that product should be good and differentiated from the competition. Having a “beta” test product works for many startups as they work the bugs out from user reactions. As Sheryl Sandberg, COO of Facebook has said, “Done is better than perfect.”
Build a Great Website for Your Company
You should devote time and effort to building a great website for your business. Prospective investors, customers, and partners are going to check out your site, and you want to impress them with a professional product. Here are some tips for building a great company website:
- Check out competitor sites.
- Start by sketching out a template for your site.
- Come up with five or six sites you can share with your web site developer to convey what you like.
- Be sure the site is search engine optimized (and thus more likely to show up early on Google search results).
- Produce high-quality original content.
- Make sure your site is optimized for mobile devices.
- Make sure the site loads quickly.
- Keep it clean and simple; visual clutter will drive visitors away.
- Make the navigation bars prominent.
- Obtain and use a memorable “.com.ng” domain name.
- Make the site visually interesting.
- Make sure it’s easy for site visitors to contact you or buy your product.
6. Perfect Your Elevator Pitch
An “elevator” pitch is intended to be a concise, compelling introduction to your business. You should be able to slightly modify your elevator pitch depending on whether you are pitching to prospective investors, customers, employees, or partners. Here are a few tips for developing and delivering a great elevator pitch:
- Start out strong.
- Be positive and enthusiastic in your delivery.
- Remember that practice makes perfect.
- Keep it to 60 seconds in length.
- Avoid using industry jargon.
- Convey why your business is unique.
- Pitch the problem you are solving.
- Invite participation or interruption by the listener—this shows they are interested and engaged.
Make the Deal Clear With Co-Founders
If you start your company with co-founders, you should agree early on about the details of your business relationship. Not doing so can potentially cause significant legal problems down the road (a good example of this is the infamous Zuckerberg/Winklevoss Facebook litigation). In a way, think of the founder agreement as a form of “pre-nuptial agreement.” Here are the key deal terms your written founder agreement needs to address:
- How is the equity split among the founders?
- Is the percentage of ownership subject to vesting based on continued participation in the business?
- What are the roles and responsibilities of the founders?
- If one founder leaves, does the company or the other founder have the right to buy back that founder’s shares? At what price?
- How much time commitment to the business is expected of each founder?
- What salaries (if any) are the founders entitled to? How can that be changed?
- How are key decisions and day-to-day decisions of the business to be made? (by majority vote, unanimous vote, or are certain decisions solely in the hands of the CEO?)
- Under what circumstances can a founder be removed as an employee of the business? (usually, this would be a Board decision)
- What assets or cash does each founder contribute or invest into the business?
- How will a sale of the business be decided?
- What happens if one founder isn’t living up to expectations under the founder agreement? How will it be resolved?
- What is the overall goal and vision for the business?
- If one founder wants to leave the business, does the company have the right to buy back his or her shares? At what price?
Set Up a Good Accounting and Bookkeeping System
You will need to set up a bookkeeping/accounting system to keep track of your finances—income, expenses, capital expenditures, EBITDA, profit and loss, etc. This is important in order to understand your business’s cash flow situation and also for tax-filing purposes.
January 8, 2021
January 8, 2021
February 4, 2016