Four Survival Tips For First-Time Entrepreneurs

APR 12, 2018 @ 09:00 AM 1,386 The Little Black Book of Billionaire Secrets

Four Survival Tips For First-Time Entrepreneurs

Forbes New York Business Council 

POST WRITTEN BY Yasir Ali, Co-Founder at Rivews and Serial Entrepreneur

The thought that an idea or company will organically be self-sustainable in growth is just a startup myth. Along with any great idea or business comes the burden of a wide spectrum of duties and responsibilities. You're not just spewing an idea onto paper, but rather creating, launching, maintaining and growing one — and each of these phases has their respective elements as well.

I founded my first startup during my junior year at New York University while participating in NYU's $200K Entrepreneurs Challenge. At first what seemed to be just an idea immediately sprouted into sporadic levels of work as questions came forward: What's your business model? What's the problem? How is your solution different? The list of questions went on and on. I quickly realized that a startup wasn't just limited to engineering an idea, but an entire commitment in need of marketing, sales and many other variables.

I've learned a ton from my recent experiences, from bootstrapping my first startup in college with a lack of experience to growing a second startup to over 100 accounts. So I've compiled a list of crucial tips every first-time entrepreneur should consider on their journey.

1. Start with problems, not solutions.

A great idea stems from solving a problem. Don't limit yourself by just building a great idea — instead, solve a legitimate problem. This was something that I personally had to experience to learn. Our ideas might have many use cases, but if the pain points are nonexistent, scaling will be an inevitable problem.

Now you don't have to solve a colossal problem. Think big, but don't be afraid to tackle smaller problems at first. Many first-time entrepreneurs relentlessly try to solve huge problems to become the next big hit but then are struck by setbacks caused by inexperience and challenges.

A good way to mitigate the risk of startup failure and lessen the time spent assessing if your idea has potential is by asking yourself some of these questions:

• What is the problem?

• How big is the problem?

• What are its pain points?

• Are there current solutions on the market?

If it's a challenge answering any of these questions, you either haven't done enough research or maybe the pain points are not acute enough to justify the viability and use of your company.

I'll use my first startup as a relevant example. We founded the company to make wait times accessible and transparent to patients so they would know before making a visit. It was quickly realized that this idea wasn't really solving a pain point rather providing a luxury to patients. The pain points weren't strong enough to push patients and facilities to use the service. And many facilities did not want to share wait times because of how long they could be. Luckily, we realized this quickly and the company was pivoted to solve the problems that lead to lengthy wait times, such as inefficient scheduling and patient flow management. We then pivoted the company from a wait-time publishing platform to a patient flow and queue management solution that would reduce lengthy wait times.

2. Presell as preparation before investing.

Preselling your product or service to prospective clients is one of the fastest ways to assess market validation before launching. Why is this important? Well, imagine developing and engineering your platform, service and/or idea, only to identify that the end user or buyer doesn't want to use it. That's time potentially wasted. Why else? Preselling allows you to collect crucial information to build your startup to really meet the needs of your clients' pain points.

This isn't limited to literally selling your product or services prior to launch — it can also include simply getting commitments from prospective clients early on. You should attempt to collect, identify and commit as many users and buyers before you launch — but don't overwhelm yourself. Assess how many users and buyers are sufficient, especially if you're launching a minimum viable product that you intend to build upon. Nonetheless, this will help you mitigate risk associated with market validation and adoption.

3. Go lean and use your own resources.

Too many entrepreneurs believe that they need funding to start their company. But many great companies will prove their models before raising money and sometimes before even investing their own, such as SurveyMonkey, GitHub, GoFundMe and many others. This means that companies will entirely bootstrap and invest their own time and energy before accepting anyone else's. Maximize your resources and abilities before investing money into others.

Are you looking to hire someone for sales? Do it yourself, before investing in someone else. Do you feel you need to pay someone to build a simple landing page? Use affordable resources online for website development, such as WordPress or Squarespace, to get started. And the list goes on. The last thing you want to do is to dig yourself into a financial pothole because you chose not to use your own resources. Too many startups fail, so the best way to make this easier for yourself is to mitigate as much risk as you can, especially in regard to money and time.

4. Have fun and enjoy.

Being an entrepreneur means you're taking on a lot of risks, from personal to financial, so the most important attribute you should always carry is to enjoy yourself. Don't be afraid to have fun and make mistakes. Too many entrepreneurs turn themselves into working machines and lose out on creativity, but it's possible to maintain your work ethic and have fun.

The best way I've found to stay creative while maintaining my work ethic is by simply not being afraid to take time out of my day to explore new concepts and ideas. Don't be afraid. If you adopt this behavior, you'll inevitably promote creativity in your work.

If you follow these tips, you'll be able to maximize your potential and mitigate risks. For first-time and serial entrepreneurs this will be crucial in growing despite setbacks.

Silicon Couloir