Entrepreneurship has turned into more of a fad, among business and marketing students just about to graduate. The millennial generation is far more enamored by the prospects of independence and making it big as opposed to a lifetime desk job, even with the perks it offers.
However, being an entrepreneur is not just about developing a rad product and “growing” your user base. A lot of hard work goes into your entrepreneurial dream and there’s absolutely NO guarantee of results.
The problem is that while ideas come naturally to young graduate students, turning those ideas into a practical business model is far from easy. You need constant mentoring, rely on experts for support, relentless technical updates and otherwise, and the ability and aptitude to be the jack of many trades. None of this is easy.
That’s why not everyone can turn into a successful entrepreneur. Still, there are a fair number of young entrepreneurs that have achieved a breakthrough at a relatively early age. They must have learned a lot from their experience. To help you succeed in your business endeavor, here are some crucial lessons from young entrepreneurs who are shaping the world.
Joseph Black and Oliver Jacobs
Joseph Black and Oliver Jacobs are the cofounders of UniDosh, an app that allows university students to buy and sell services to each other. Recently Unidos was named one of the top 200 EU startups at the Website festival. They also won the Accelerate Places Northern pitch night (with a bundle prize worth £35,000) and The Tab’s Founders 30 campaign in partnership with EY. Here are the lessons from these two UK based young entrepreneurs.
1. Think Big but Start Small
One of the first things you need to remember is to set up realistic goals. Of course, you should always think big. But you should also start small. You can create a five-year business plan but don’t forget about your short-term requirements.
Small steps will build confidence and provide directions to your efforts in the long run. They also help you identify your mistakes right there and then. As a result, you don’t waste time reinventing the wheel again and again. Don’t try to take a long leap into the dark suddenly. It could render all your hard work useless, forcing you to start from nothing again.
“We decided to soft launch our beta platform as a student the only marketplace. We anticipated that sales would initially be slow, but we needed to make sure that students felt comfortable operating the platform and that the desire for selling services was truly there,” says Jacobs.
2. Create Something of Value
Both Joseph and Oliver were students not so long ago, so they understand the pain of leading a student life. “Throughout my time at university, I witnessed firsthand the struggles students succumb to on a daily basis mostly due to the constant struggle with money,” says Joseph. That’s how the idea of UniDosh took root. They had a niche marketplace – and now they also have a nearly perfect solution.
If you create something of value, your customers will love it. Your business model is more likely to succeed if it improves people’s lives in some way. All the big business names and brands had humble beginnings. But, they remained focused on adding value to their customer’s lives.
Google, for example, focuses on providing accurate and relevant search results. A lot of money and efforts go into creating advanced algorithms to make that happen. And, it all pays off – in India, Google has 97% of the search engine market share.
3. Enjoy the Journey
The Unidos duo also believes in enjoying the entrepreneurial journey itself. They couldn’t have been more correct! Hard work is crucial for your business’s success because you must put in long hours. But that shouldn’t stop you from enjoying the processes, operations and everyday joy of building your business, hopefully into a billion-dollar empire one day.
If you start freaking out at every mistake you make or each hurdle you encounter, you are more likely to go into depression. But most importantly, your stressful behavior will affect the overall morale of your team members. That, in turn, will affect your performance, resulting in poor progress. If you want to stay the course, enjoy the journey every step of the way.
Nathan is the founder and CEO of the world’s top manufacturer-sourcing platform, Sourcify. It connects companies to vetted manufacturers. The idea came to his mind during a previous attempt at entrepreneurship – an e-commerce watch company called Yes Man Watches. Nathan realized early how difficult sourcing was for manufacturers and decided to do something about it.
4. Learn from Your Mistakes
Whether big or small, setbacks are an inseparable part of every entrepreneur journey. However, they aren’t necessarily a bad thing. Entrepreneurs need to always view their mistakes as lessons learned and try to avoid them in the future. Nathan, who is not a technically sound person, hired a freelance developer to build the Sourcify platform from the ground up. The decision turned out to be far from perfect.
But, that wasn’t his only mistake. He didn’t wireframe his product or map it out completely. Despite spending six thousand dollars on the project, the platform didn’t provide a good UX. Neither did it have a proper user flow.
“You can’t just go and tell the developer, ‘Hey, here is the vision of what we want you to create, go create it.’ You’re going to see a lot of developers who are great at coding, but they’re honestly not great at determining product flow, user flow, and making a product that excites people,” explains Nathan.
Next time, however, he was better prepared. Now, whenever someone comes onboard, he maps out exactly how they should communicate to save time, efforts, and money.
5. Plan and Understand Your Finances First
Money is the foundation of your business. Everything from generating cash flow to planning future growth will depend on your financial understanding and management. You don’t have to have a degree in finance, but you need to understand the basics. However, financial planning for entrepreneurs can be a bit more complicated.
“During the early months, your company will likely have limited cash flow. On top of this, your life won’t stop, so you’ll need to pay your living expenses, too. In order to properly prepare, it’s recommended that you estimate your first 12 months of costs – again, for yourself and your business,” says Nathan in one of his articles.
You will also need to review your personal debt as well before going into the entrepreneurial role. Make sure all your finances are in order. Avoid spending money on unnecessary things such as fancy brochures, letterheads, and office furniture. But, make sure not to compromise on functionality. Always put your budget into something that will help establish your brand and connect with your customers.
Starting a business of your own is never easy. Though young, these entrepreneurs have more experience than many experienced professionals, yours truly included, who have been in business for a long time. Hopefully, these pieces of advice coming directly from these successful entrepreneurs will help those who are setting out on their entrepreneurial quest and help them sail through operational ordeals smoothly. Feel free to express your thoughts as a wannabe tycoon in the comments – I’m happy to discuss!