As an aspiring entrepreneur, these are the questions you need to be able to answer to create a successful business.
There are a lot of questions you’ll be asked and have to answer on your way to building a great startup. Customers will have questions, prospective investors will have questions and your friends and family will have a lot of questions for you. These questions are the ones you really need to answer for yourself and for the mission.
What’s your why? Why are you doing this? Why are you doing this business? Why are you taking on creating a startup?
This is incredibly important. You have to have a really strong why. You won’t make it if you don’t. Investors know this and will be asking. It can be a pivotal element in talking to customers and recruits as well.
If your only why is to make money, that probably isn’t enough. Not to keep you driving through all of the challenges. Find a why that you can’t get out of your mind and that keeps you up at night.
Do you have the resilience to make it through? Everything is going to be harder than you expect. Everything will take longer and cost more than you expect. More than that, you have to be willing to not only survive rejection, but also to learn to embrace and love it.
Can you handle 10 or 100, or 1,000 rejections from customers for every yes and sale you get? Can you embrace 300 rejections from investors before getting a single funding check? Can you do this every day of the week for years?
Can you keep doing it after only hearing no for months? When you’ve worked 100 hours in the past week and are sleeping on the office floor. When you don’t have enough money to make payroll and the bills this Friday.
A few entrepreneurs seem to have proven to be able to repeatedly start and sell new businesses every couple of years. That’s the extreme exception, and why they make the headlines. The reality of putting in 10 or 20 years to build a company isn’t quite as sexy clickbait. It can take that long.
Especially, if you are taking on a really big mission, you want to take it to being a really big multi-billion dollar company, and to find the ideal exit. You shouldn’t go in unless you are willing to do 10 or 11 years.
In the reverse, sometimes the hardest thing for startup founders is letting go. They do really well at building a successful business because they are so passionate about it and committed. It can almost become their lives and they associate their identities with it. That can make it hard to walk away, even when the timing is perfect.
The thing is that, at that time, you’ve done your job. You’ve evolved and may be capable of doing a lot more with new ventures. It may be your responsibility and legal obligation, and the best thing you can do for the mission is to exit. Can you do it?
You’ll build a highly successful business when you find that one thing that you can do better than anyone else, and can keep on doing better.
You don’t have to be great at everything. Focus and hone in on that one thing you were made and learned to do best. That’s your value proposition. Own it, and keep staying ahead with it.
The biggest challenge for entrepreneurs and startups is to get real clarity on the problem they are solving. Along with that comes making sure they are solving a really urgent problem, and a really big one. A problem that others will pay for a solution to.
All great businesses start with a great problem. If you aren’t convinced you’ve found that yet, keep searching. Many of the best are born out of personal frustrations and inefficiencies entrepreneurs have faced in their daily lives and work. You shouldn’t have to look too far to find one.
If you want to be sure, get out there and talk to people. Talk to as many of the people who you believe could be likely customers as possible. Ask them. Test your theories with them.
It’s the business with the best team that wins and is most successful in its space. So, how can you build the best team possible?
How can you not only bring in the best experts in your specific field, but also those with domain expertise and mastery of marketing, fundraising, technology, and HR?
It could be by raising substantial funding to directly hire these people full time. It could be by bringing them in as cofounders. It could be offering small percentages of equity for great advisors. It could be investing more in temporary freelancers and consultants upfront, to generate more results, more quickly.
When you are thinking about surrounding yourself with talent that also applies to onboard investors that are familiar with your domain expertise. At an early stage, a safe note is a good way to go.
Building a successful business is not just about knowing what to do, and pulling off growing a company and making it profitable. It’s often actually about simply surviving. Being the one who can out survive the rest. Like a legendary boxer who can absorb all the punches, until they get the perfect opening to strike and win.
So, what are all of the potential threats to your business? What can you do to defend against them and navigate them?