You’ve heard about successful stories of entrepreneurs who kept their day jobs as they started their business from scratch. These people know and understand the importance of having a stable source of income in order to have the courage to work on building one’s business.
If you are keen on starting your own business, these tips below could help you before you finally hand in that resignation letter:
1. Throw away your business plan.
When thinking about starting a business, one of the essential things that will come to mind is to come up with a business plan. Yes, it is essential, but the reality of the startup world is that business plans are obsolete only moments after you write them. The extensive market research doesn’t really help you come up with a great product that customers will love. Even a detailed financial plan will also turn out wrong as soon as you change the price point, or even your marketing channels, or the features.
It doesn’t mean that planning your business is wrong or has no value. It only means that your product’s value proposition and how you’re going to sell it is going to change significantly after you start building and getting real customer feedback. Hence, instead of a business plan, you can start by listing down your assumptions about the business. There are a number of templates out there to help you do this in an organized fashion.
You can write down your most important assumptions like the ones below:
- What problems does your products solve?
- What is your product?
- Who are your target customers?
- What is really unique about it?
- How are you planning to distribute your product to customers?
- Where will your revenue come from?
- What are your major costs?
Listing down your assumptions is better than creating a business plan especially if you are working a regular day job since it takes a lot less time than an old style business plan.
2. Don’t cross your current employer.
Before you take on the plunge, make sure that you are on solid legal ground so your employer can’t come after you when your startup becomes successful. To avoid any problems with your employer, make sure that the business you are planning is unrelated to the business of your employer. Check your employment contract and look through your non-disclosure and other employment agreements to see what your company’s policies are. Moreover, you need to ensure that you will work on it on your own time and with your own equipment.
3. Check if you need to have a business partner.
There may be less pressure if you start your business alone, but it could be tough also. If you have a co-founder, it increases your chances of success and they can also add to your company’s skills. Moreover, your business partners can also share the workload and improve the company productivity.
When choosing a partner, look for someone you are compatible working with – preferably someone you have already worked with before. If it’s not possible, you can try an arrangement where you will first try to test the water. If it works between you and your business partner, then it’s good to go.
If ever you can’t find a co-founder, you still push through with your plan. Don’t delay starting your company because you can’t find a partner.
4. See how your ideas go.
Not because you have a great business idea, it already means the market is going to agree to that. Check first if your idea is going to hit with your target audience. Testing your idea is the best way to reduce startup risks. It is quite taxing to do it while you are still working your full time job, that’s why you need to think and plan about it carefully.
You can start by doing customer interviews. You can ask random people and see how they would use your product or service.
Another step you can do is to have prototypes so you can deliver the bare minimum product that meets the highest pain point of your customer. Make sure that when you introduce a prototype, it is inexpensive because your goal here is to get user feedback so you can change the product if needed.
A survey is also a good way to get customer’s opinions on your business idea. You can use online tools like Survey Monkey, which makes it easier to run a survey and get an analysis of the results.
You can also use the interactivity and reach of the Internet by setting up a basic website and testing your concept inexpensively on real live prospects. You can use inexpensive products like LeadPages to set up a few descriptions and see which ones the customers will like. You can also use Google AdWords to see if people are using Google to search for answers related to your startup. This is a good sign because it means there are customers out there for you. You can test advertising on Google Ads or Facebook to see if you can get consumers to click. This can be a good proxy for how much it’s going to cost you to get new customers.
5. Make it a real business.
If you want to turn your idea into a thriving business, you need to set goals for your startup and make yourself accountable to them. Treat it like you are actually starting your own empire. Plan you next steps with dates and specifics as best as you can.
6. Don’t be a cheapskate.
If you want your business to flourish and you believe in it, don’t be a scrooge. Invest in your startup. Spend money on Google Adwords and start building an email list. You can also get some inventory on your new product. Make sure that you will also have your own business cards to give to people you will meet when you attend networking events. You will also need to hire a virtual administrator to help you with day-to-day tasks since you still have your full time job.
Small investments to get your business moving faster are good investments. These include generating more revenue, building your network, getting good legal counsel or patent protection, setting the stage for your business to be viable.
7. Start generating revenue.
If you followed the previous tips, you will eventually find customers who will be willing to pay for your prototype or a variant of it. Once you have paying customers, you can ramp up marketing and sales by looking for more like them. You can also use customer reviews and testimonials so people will trust your product.
8. Network like crazy.
In this part, you can use your full-time job as an advantage to network like crazy. Since you have a job, you can interact regularly with other employees, customers, vendors, and even competitors.
Try to meet people who can be potential employees, customers, contractors, advisors, mentors, and even potential investors. These connections are all potentially valuable.
9. The secret to why you don’t want investors.
While it is good to have investors, it is not the time yet for your startup business since you are still in the early stage and you still have full time job. Most investors almost always want to see you working full time on the business so they think you are maximizing their chance to get a return on their investment. Even if you could get investors interested, your lack of traction would put a very low value on your company at this point.
10. Make your nights and your weekends count.
It will be very busy and exhausting at first since you are doing double jobs, but if you are determined to push through with your startup business, you need to endure it. Your time is your most valuable resource right now so you better use it wisely. While starting, you may have to bid your other weekend routines goodbye like going out with your friends or your weekly soccer game.
Starting a business may be difficult at first and you will surely meet a lot of obstacles along the way. That’s why you need to have enough determination if you want to push through with it so you can see it through. A little sacrifice will definitely do you good in the long run. Achieving your dreams requires work. It will take time, energy, dedication, and courage.