Just a quick short post to answer a number of similar sounding emails I get on how to really get started on one's own business. Here's the lowdown on the logical flow of any enterprise from birth to growth.
- Ideation. The idea is the key. First come up with what you want to sell. Whether it is a product or a service or a combination of both. The main thing is to come up with an idea or a set of ideas.
- Marketability. The next step is to test the market for the viability of your idea. Before you quit your job or your college or even your current venture to start a business, you must have a reasonable amount of confidence that the idea works. You might even be looking at funding, so before you approach friends/family/VCs you should be convinced yourself that your idea has a market.
- Team. This is a tough ask. But if it is possible you should put together a team that complements your skills. So for instance if you are technically very good, find out someone who is good at marketing, and if possible, also someone who is good at finances. When I started out, I filled in the technical strength, and my father was around for the financial part. We still remained weak on the marketing front, and it took us quite a few years to fix that.
- Business plan. The next step is to articulate your idea. To put together a formal business plan which outlines your main idea, lists out potential target markets, the resources required to bring the idea to fruition, the competition you face, a SWOT analysis, projected cash-flow for the next 2-3 years, and most importantly your team profile.
- Funding. You may or may not need funding. So this stage would be one where you go out and seek the minimum amount of money that you need to start off your business.
- Registration & Incorporation. There are legal formalities to be completed before you start on your own business. For a sole proprietorship, there is not much to do, but for private limited there is quite a bit of paperwork you will need to get done.
- Stationery & Website. You will have to get your basic marketing material in place - a website, visiting cards, logo, letterheads, etc.
- Execution. This is the rest of your life - beat the pavement trying to get clients, call up all your contacts, try to advertise and market your services/products in the best manner possible, land a few deals, execute on them, invoice them, get the money in the bank, go treat yourself to a nice dinner somewhere!