The right way to start your own successful business in 2022
There are many blogs written on how to start your own business, in this blog we will focus on the right way to start your own business. We will likely go against the standard convention and consider real practical steps that will provide a better chance of a successful outcome.
We will look at this topic from an entrepreneurial perspective and guide you through the checks. These steps are compiled from numerous interviews conducted with start-up founders and our own experiences.
In this blog we will cover the following topics:
- The stuff no one tell you about
- Benefits of becoming your own boss
- Checklist for success when starting your own business
- Useful resources to get you started
The stuff no one tells you about
Becoming an entrepreneur is probably one of the most challenging process that any individual can undertake, it is not all sunshine and rainbows and in most cases there is no fancy sports car at the end of the tunnel.
Dreams of making money quickly, becoming a millionaire overnight are not the reality when it comes to entrepreneurship. Let us cover the most important points that no one tell you about the entrepreneurship journey:
Take your business plan and throw it out the window
Business plans are completely useless and no one is actually going to read it. If you do a search for “how to start your own business”, you will most likely be plagued with websites that are selling business plan tools, trying to convince you to get your business plan ready. All of that is completely useless in the real world.
That does not mean that you should not have a plan or strategy for your business idea. Planning and strategizing is crucial to business success. However one should approach it from a practical point of view with clear milestones and targets, objectives that must be achieved, instead of a lofty plan and long document that is written to try and convince someone else about your business.
Do this instead:
Craft a careful plan of your objectives, targets and what you want to achieve. Read more on OKR Planning for your Business here and the key components of a successful business strategy here. When you approach business planning from a practical and strategic perspective, as opposed to a dreamy angle - you are able to focus your efforts on the important things and start working on them to ensure your success.
It will take double the time
Many entrepreneurs have an idea of how long it will take to achieve success, even if they do not write it down in a business plan, they have a picture in their minds. When I started, I imagined that in 6 months, I will be where I need to be. Therefore, I had saved enough money for a year, as a decent project manager, I had allowed for 100% contingency in my finances.
Growing my first business took more than 2 years to start generating just a little bit of revenue. It took another year before the revenue could sustain me and my family.
Starting a business is like diving into the deepest part of an ocean, when you do not know how to swim, you learn things as you kick and struggle, you start to realize certain actions help you float better while others sink you faster. This is how entrepreneurship is, you learn on the job and you are paying the price for the lessons with your savings, livelihood, family and years.
Light at the end of the tunnel
I will use one of my favourite quotes to demonstrate this point:
“I'm convinced that about half of what separates the successful entrepreneurs from the non-successful ones is pure perseverance.... Unless you have a lot of passion about this, you're not going to survive. You're going to give it up. So you've got to have an idea, or a problem or a wrong that you want to right that you're passionate about; otherwise, you're not going to have the perseverance to stick it through.” - Steve Jobs.
Steve Jobs is arguably one of the most successful entrepreneurs, he has built a company that is currently one of the most valued companies in the world. He talks about perseverance and passion, this is what you will need when the estimated 6 months to success turns to three years or more, your savings have run dry and you are struggling to remain motivated.
The benefits of starting your own business
- Having control over your own destiny - When you are your own boss, you call all the shots. This gives you a sense of control and ownership that you may not have in a traditional job.
- Increased earning potential - If you are successful in running your own business, your income potential is unlimited. You can make as much money as you want, depending on the demand for your product or service.
- Flexibility - As the boss, you can set your own hours and work from wherever you want. This flexibility can be a great perk, especially if you have children or other commitments that require a lot of your time.
- Pride in ownership - Owning your own business is a source of pride and accomplishment. It can be very rewarding to know that you have created something successful from scratch.
- Making a difference - You can build a company that can change lives, create jobs and remain standing even after you have left it.
Checklist for success when starting your own business
This checklist was compiled from experience starting multiple businesses, interviews with many start-up founders and research from content, blogs and interviews given by successful startup founders. This might be skewed towards technology type businesses, but the underlying concepts are applicable across many industries.
This is the most important point to cover before leaving your 9-5 and taking the leap of faith. Ensure that you have adequate resources, savings, funds, investment to keep you running your business, if it did not make any money for two years
This is important but not a deal-breaker. Businesses have a higher chance of success when there are multiple people working to make them successful. There are numerous known cases of highly successful solo founders too, but statistically your chances are improved when you have a good team for support and sharing the burden. Investors also like to see bigger teams, and that helps your chances of raising revenue.
Document the business strategy clearly, start working on measurable objectives and targets for your entrepreneurial journey. Work with numbers and analytics, instead of general feeling. Collect all your business metrics, get a good Business Management Software to keep track of your day to day.
Validate your idea early
There is a difference between knowing that you have a good business idea and getting people to pay for your offering. Clients might even tell you that your idea is great, but not be willing to pay for it. The ultimate test to validate an idea is determining whether people will put down their credit card details. Therefore, build quickly and put your product out there to test for adoption and paying clients.
80% Marketing Rule
In the 80-20 rule, when it comes to business, 80% of what any entrepreneur needs to do for success is marketing.
Yes, pick up those phones and start dialing. Times have changed, and depending on your business marketing could be: social media marketing, cold email outreach, direct calling, SMS marketing or event networking.
Focus on revenue generation
As an entrepreneur, at every stage of your business - ask yourself “is this action going to generate revenue” if the answer is no, push it down the priority list. Focus only on actions that will generate revenue. This might seem obvious, but many founders reported spending too much time in accelerator program after accelerator program, seeking funding or mentorship. You do not need mentorship, you do not need funding, you need to start selling. Then you will find that the investors and mentors will seek you out, instead of the other way round.
Useful Resources to get you started
Business Management with Skhokho - https://skhokho.io/authentication/register
Get a domain, hosting, website: https://www.domains.co.za/aff.php?aff=2851
Cloud Server VPS Solution: https://m.do.co/c/7d9a2c75356d
Free Website with no-code: https://webflow.com/
Curated list of start-up resources for founders: https://www.founderresources.io/
TechStars Startup Toolkit: https://toolkit.techstars.com/
Ycombinator start-up school: https://www.startupschool.org/
Startups Library: https://www.startups.com/library