Starting a venture is like having a baby: it gets very frightening as soon as you realize that you’ve taken over responsibility for something you’ve never had before. Will I be a good father? What if the baby gets sick? How do I know that it’s sick? How do you do this? Do that? Am I gonna kill it like the hamster I had? … omg, will I be a good father?
If you’re asking these questions as a father-to-be, I suppose it’s too late to pull back. As an entrepreneur-to-be your live is still a bit more maneuverable. Last Friday, I had the pleasure to speak in front of a group of exchange students about entrepreneurship and our company Cassiber. Nextech Venture, a venture fund in early-stage healthcare, and Télésonique, a Swiss telecommunication operator, presented as well. During the Q&A sessions and the subsequent panel discussion, the students’ questions remembered me of the time when we started.
I’ve put together a list of useful links and advices you might find interesting.
Let me know, if you want to read more about a specific point:
When is the right time to start?
Sometimes it’s just time to decide: “yes, we’ll do it.” However, you should be very sure of what you do before you quit your job or invest any money. My advice is: try to find a way to have a second income at the beginning. This way, you’ll have the possibility to think over your idea again and again. Talk to potential customers. Program a mock-up and organize some product testing. Work this way as long as possible. This way you’ll be asking yourself dozens of questions all day and work all night. Eventually you’ll know two things: am I made for entrepreneurship? Will they like my product (and pay for it)?
Do I really need to write a business plan?
Hell yeah! This way you’ll have to bring your thoughts down to paper. Don’t write more than 20 pages. The less pages you need to describe your business in details, the better. In addition to that, a business plan helps you to realign your short-term actions wiith your long-term strategy.
How can I find funding?
Firstly, I would talk to your friends and tell them about your idea. I guess, they will challenge it again (which is not bad). Afterwards you should ask them if they know an investor. This way, I am sure, you’ll get introduced with some businessmen who will listen to your elevator pitch. You won’t be successful the first time. But the more you pitch the better you get. Start reasearching professional investors and contact them. You’ll most probably have to hand in a powerpoint presentation with a few slides. If you get invited, they’re interested in what you’re planning to do. So be passionate, know your figures, know your estimations and assumptions. Good luck!
How much money will I need to run my business?
There are several ways without spending too much on marketing your product. Try to spend your money wisely until you get the first revenues in. Think about it: the less money you spend and bring your product to market, the less money you will need in total (and the less shares you need to give away at a first instance). You don’t need to go global within the first months . As soon as you proof that your product is a bestseller, you’ll find enough money to expand your business for sure. Until then, keep it simple and cost-effective.
You’re ready? Hesitating?
It’s like becoming a parent: there are a lot of books you can read. You’ll talk alot to your (business) partner about it. Everybody around you gets excited. You’ll love to buy the (un)necessary stuff to start off. You can try to be as well-prepared as possible, but eventually you’ll have to give it a try.
Now, why don’t you start with this great speech of Guy Kawasaki. He’s talking about the core thoughts you should go through yourseld before starting a venture:
Some good articles:
And two must-reads by Guy Kawasaki: