There are many exciting opportunities available to young, motivated business entrepreneurs in today’s world. Greater interconnectedness allows us to find partners and share ideas more easily than ever before. Funding platforms provide crucial financial support at the beginning stages of business projects. Younger technologically-minded business icons are setting the bar for success.
In this type of environment, it’s easy to see why startups abound—particularly amongst younger entrepreneurs low on cash but rich on ideas. The immensity of the startup community should be an inspiration rather than an intimidating hindrance to young businessmen and women, but launching a startup will require knowing how to navigate this world and avoid as many developmental hiccups as possible. Here are five important things to consider before you bring your big idea to the marketplace.
Location, Location, Location
It’s true in the housing market, and it’s true in the startup world as well. Before you root yourself in one area, make sure it’s the right place for your business. And don’t think that just because you’re looking to build a startup that California is the only place to be. The emergence of startup communities in lesser known cities is an inevitability, and the development of startup industries in these places has only just begun.
The most difficult balancing act will be finding a place where people want to live and where there is a startup community (thus attracting employees and good business connections), but also one where your meager funds will not be drained instantaneously. Pay attention to unique niches, like Google’s plans to wire entire American cities with high-speed wireless. Choose wisely, but be creative and take risks. Who knows where the next Silicon Valley may emerge.
Branding is so crucial to the success of a company, particularly in the Information Age when social media makes company-customer relations much more intimate. We often don’t think about the nuances in style, copywriting, and customer service that promote a company’s image, but those are the little things that will make you stand out.
In a market with so much competition, staying afloat rests on your ability to attract attention and support from people who believe in your product. This type of trust and good grace comes from people feeling like they know what your company is about and where it’s headed, and this idea comes from you and how you brand yourself.
Look at a company like Apple. It’s an obvious example, but only because Apple’s branding has created an incredible aura around them as leaders of the tech industry. Trying to break through what was basically a monopoly of business-side computer hardware years ago, Apple decided to market itself as the company for the common man. They created trend-setting design, personable advertising, and were able to corner the market on everyday home computer owners. Steve Jobs became a global icon, and now if you ride the train listening to an MP3 player that doesn’t have an Apple logo on it, you’re an outcast.
Branding should be one your top priorities, particularly in an age where the Internet so greatly impacts your reach as a company. You will want to invest particular effort in your online marketing strategies to develop a humanistic relationship with customers and other businesses.
Be Careful About Sharing Ownership
It may be tempting in the beginning stages when you are low on funds to use a business incubator or allow people to buy portions of your company right away. But don’t get carried away. Your idea might be truly a great one, but with more success comes more people who want a piece of the pie. Make sure you get yourself to a position of firm control before you start giving away your pie.
Surround Yourself with Likeminded People
“Changing the world” seems to be the lip service motto of every startup company ever launched. You may be grandiose in your vision, or you may be completely realistic about how important your specific idea will be to “the world” (see: not very). Either way, what is truly important is to surround yourself with people who are also obsessed with the idea, big or small, totally nerdy or not.
Use connections to build a company, and trust the judgment of those around you. Most likely, those who you already have on board will have contacts who are looking for similar things and have similar values. Build from a common vision—you will see great success if all minds are equally dedicated to the task at hand.
In these inherently creative environments, good things emerge from likeminded people, working fiercely in groups, bouncing ideas off of each until something sparks and takes off like wildfire.
In that same vein, company culture is becoming an increasingly competitive aspect of startups. Not everyone can have their workers go-karted to the Googleplex Iron Chef Challenge for lunch—or whatever it is they do over there in Mountain View—but creating a lively and interesting atmosphere has become a selling point for startups, so you’ll have to do your best to compete for the best talent. Again, you should not be allocating the majority of your precious funds toward this, but the rigidity of the classic “workplace” is fading. Good riddance.???
Now that you’ve got these considerations in mind, you can get to work. Being a young entrepreneur never has been and never will be easy. You will suffer drawbacks and perhaps fail entirely. But the willingness to take these risks should come from a passion in your cause, and the firmness of your vision will inform every decision you make.
It’s a wild world, but you have all the necessary tools. Good luck brave soul, and Godspeed.
Kate Simmons is a freelance writer and blogger on business-related topics. In her writing, she currently focuses on entrepreneurship, advice for startup businesses and financial issues faced by SMBs.