More than ever, people are looking to pursue meaningful career paths. At times our vision of how the world should be is so vivid, we can’t resist the urge to try and build it ourselves. Starting a business has never been easier, but executing on our ideas can make for seriously hard work. Here are some lessons on starting your own business and seeing it through:
1. Solve your own problem
What keeps you up at night? What makes you angry or upset? What makes you excited? These are questions every entrepreneur should ask themselves before jumping into any venture. Usually if something makes you itch, there will be others who feel the same way. If those people are easy to find, you’re on to something.
2. Build a community first, business second
When you find the people who care about a problem the way you do, you’ve found your tribe. These are the early adopters, the people you launch to, test your products with, get feedback from, and most importantly take care of. Your community are the tracks to your roller-coaster, carrying you through the uncertain times while you figure out what you’re doing. They’re your biggest fans, your cheerleaders, your best critics, your first customers, and your connection to the opportunities beyond your reach.
3. Bake a good story
Your story is your brand. It will be the thing that gets customers to choose you over cheaper alternatives, and the reason media will call to write about you. It will attract members to your community and keep them engaged. Always share what you’re building and why you’re building it. It will keep you honest and tether you to your principles. Bake your story deep into your business. It should be the ingredient that everyone can taste and the reason they’ll share you with their friends. Make people feel something.
4. Launch often
It’s tempting to hold back from sharing a new product or idea with the world before it’s polished. The best products are not built in a vacuum. They’re shared early and improved. If you had 10 days to launch a product, how would you spend that time? 9 days building + 1 day selling? No. Start selling before you’ve built anything. Sell the promise of the idea. That’s Test 1. Then you build your Minimum Viable Product (MVP), the most basic version of your idea. Whether it’s the latest smoothie drink or a new piece of software, it’s all the same. Sell, learn, improve, sell again. Repeat. Everything boils down to time. Most businesses don’t have much, so spend it wisely.
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5. Work for a purpose
Solving big problems in a sustainable way takes time, a lot of time. Most overnight successes had at least 10 years of hard labor behind them before they suddenly shot to fame. If you don’t care deeply about what you’re building and why you’re building it, it’s unlikely you’ll have the energy to see it through to the end. Same goes for the team you have around you, make sure they believe in the same vision with the same amount of passion.
6. Take care of yourself
Starting anything is hard. Starting something you truly care about is even harder. The pressure you’ll put on yourself to succeed will end up being greater than anything you’ll experience in your average career. The weight of it will be the sum of your own expectations, the expectations of others, the financial pressure, the uncertainty, the worry of neglecting family and friends, the criticism, the endless options, the limited options, the hustle, the doubt. Always remind yourself why you started. Lean on your community and be honest with them. Open up to your family and friends. Celebrate the little things, the momentum will carry you.
7. Be proud of yourself
Chances are you have an idea. A vision of how the world should be. An urge to leave it a better place. A need to change the world and to change yourself in the process. The journey is hard, but the fact that you’re still reading this says a lot about who you are. Be proud of yourself, take that step and build something that matters.