Looking to start a company? Or preparing what you need to get started?
One of the first things you probably did was Google one of these two phrases:
- How to start a business
- How to build a startup
The problem is that you can't Google these terms. We take that back. You can Google it, but you won't find what you're looking for.
You can go page by page searching for the answers through the 951 million results. Whether it's on page one, 10, 30, 50, 100, or even 10,000, the answer you're looking for won't be there.
Maybe you'll even come across this article in your search. But guess what?
None of these articles online are going to tell you what you need to do to go out there and create a successful startup.
Because most people who are going out there and preaching how to build a big business either:
- Haven't done it (or did it a long time ago, in a time far different than the current landscape). If someone built their business in 2010, or even 2015, the landscape of the Internet has changed so much since that many marketing tactics may no longer work.
- Are giving you fragments of information. Even with tried and tested tactics, a standalone article will never be as comprehensive as a book that outlines every single potential roadblock you may encounter.
- They don't have a blueprint for success. A tried and tested blueprint that is duplicatable, no matter what business you're in, is an essential foundation for a startup to build off of.
Now that's a major problem, because it's causing real issues in today's new startup world.
The problem isn't just on the end of the people providing information either. It's on the side of the people who are Googling the term as well.
New entrepreneurs are part of the problem.
They think that starting a successful business is as easy as that quick Google search and we're sorry to break it to you, but it isn't.
We know because we've been in the trenches. We left our cushy jobs at Goldman Sachs because we were inspired by Under Armour's CEO, Kevin Plank, when we were working on his IPO. We built a startup from scratch. We sold our product across the country and had international distributors who wanted us to expand overseas. Instead, we exited, then we decided to switch roles from operators into investors and got involved with over 130 startups, including some unicorns like Lyft, Pinterest, Warby Parker and more.
Here's a real question for you:
Have you ever walked into a liquor store and seen scratchers underneath the glass?
Have you seen that it says you can win millions of dollars, that you can win prizes and exotic trips? Do you think everyone wins a million dollars who does the scratcher? If winning the lottery was that easy, the lottery would have gone out of business a long time ago.
Now, sometimes people believe that information is an indication of clear paths.
When it comes to those 951 million results on Google, that is not the case.
So it makes you wonder, why is it so hard to find all the information you're looking for?
That's because starting a company isn't as easy as reading an article from someone else.
The shiny object syndrome.
From 1848 to 1855, people from across the country packed up their wagons and took it upon themselves to go on a journey to California to participate in the gold rush. They wanted to strike it rich, much like entrepreneurs are doing so today in this digital age.
These adventure seekers set off to travel to a newfound land where they could set up shop, then start digging into the ground with shovels and picks.
Now there's nothing wrong with setting out on a journey to get rich. But very few people found what they were looking for.
The people who actually made the majority of the money at this time were entrepreneurs who had a bigger plan. And that was to supply the searchers with the tools they needed. The people who made money were the ones selling the picks and shovels.
The same thing is true today with the modern day gold rush of entrepreneurship. People are searching for golden nuggets of information.They're searching across the entire web instead of within niche communities. And what are they doing? They're digging around and searching online, until they find a shiny object, that has a title that's enticing, like:
- "How To Start a Company in One Day From The Comfort of Your Home"
- "The Most Comprehensive Startup To Do List That Will Make You Millions"
- "The Top 10 Tips to Success in Starting an Affiliate Business That Runs Itself."
- "How to Start a Business That Makes Hundreds of Dollars in Just a Few Hours"
These topics are like shiny objects, and as soon as you click on one of those articles, there's a slight chance that you gain yet another tool that you can use, but you still don't know where the gold is.
The truth about building a company.
A company is a living, breathing thing, just like you are a living and breathing thing. A company, much like a person, needs to learn how to survive, change their behavior, adapt to new situations, find where to fit in, mature, strive for success, then achieve mastery.
If you wanted to go and dissect your whole anatomy, guess what? You would have to go through textbook after textbook after textbook, and maybe spend eight to 10 years in med school, just to figure out how your body actually works.
Do you have that kind of time or resources?
You probably don't. And that's the exact reason you're searching online for shortcuts.
But guess what?
That same time commitment and resources is what goes into putting together an actual startup. So if you can't commit, now is your chance to opt out. Otherwise...
You need to learn from people who not only have been there and done that, but are still doing it now.
Let's say you wanted to go out there and learn how to become the best clothing designer in the world. Would you ask your neighbor how to do it? Would you ask a random stranger how to do it? Or would you try to go ask the best fashion designer in the world on how to do it?
Now let's go to the other end of the spectrum. If you wanted to be a plumber, what would you do? You'd probably do the exact same thing.
The problem with many unknown authors of online articles that claim to have the magic pills for success, is that they may not be a credible source to get information from.
Here are some questions that will help you identify a reliable source:
- How do they make their money?
- Do they make it from selling you this material?
- What is their primary source of income?
- Do they make money from going out there and starting a business, selling it, or building an empire? (Much like we have.)
- Have they invested into successful companies?
Make sure you can trust and rely on your sources.
You can't rely on your Google searches to give you everything you need.
Google is helping people to sell shovels and picks in the modern day gold rush for successful entrepreneurial ventures.
So where do you actually find the information you need?
Before getting into that, you need to do some soul searching.
Can you become an entrepreneur?
Chances are, the answer to this question is yes.
But the next question is even harder to answer.
Should you actually become an entrepreneur?
Do you have these 6 traits that make a successful entrepreneur?
- Optimistic. Are you optimistic enough to get up every day and continue to work towards your goals?
- Energetic. Are you energetic enough to keep up with the best and brightest?
- Risk Taker. Are you excited about solving big problems that may seem impossible to fix?
- Emotionally resilient. Are you resilient enough to face failure, look it in the eyes, and continue to move forward?
- Visionary. Are you creative enough to imagine changing what the future looks like?
- Persuasive. Are you persuasive enough to make other people believe and invest in your vision?
If you have determined that you have these six essential traits, then it's time to figure out what problem you are solving.
"Businesses start with a good idea" is a misnomer.
Most entrepreneurs think that a business starts with a good idea.
A business starts by identifying a problem that's worth solving. If you want to start a business, don't try to come up with an idea. Find a huge problem that is affecting either your life, or the lives of others.
Here's a few questions you can ponder over:
- Do you have a problem that you have experienced recently?
- Do you have friends that keep complaining about something?
- Is there news or media around a certain problem that continues to happen?
That's what you need to focus on first.
Once you find a problem that's worth solving, then start to get creative. Try to come up with a solution that has to do with technology, a product, and can be delivered as a service.
Once you come up with ideas on these three levels, to address the one problem that's worth solving, look at those three ideas, and determine which one would be the most inexpensive, yet provide the highest ability to solve the problem. Guess what? Now you've got the foundation for your idea. You're solving a problem and you have a solution.
The last thing that you need to do is find your market, because just like searching online won't get you what you need to start a business, assuming that your product or service is for everyone, will leave you like a gold miner looking for gold in the sand at the beach.
Find the experts who have the resources you can trust.
After you have these key areas figured out, then it is time to find a solid blueprint to success to rely on for a resource and roadmap to help you plan your journey from inception to exit, so you can get going.
But don't go on Google to find what you're looking for.
Instead, seek out people who have gone out and achieved the success you crave.
Do your due diligence and conduct thorough background checks to see exactly how they got to where they are, to make sure they are credible sources you can rely on.
Study their resources.
Join groups and communities where these true experts contribute their expertise.
But most importantly, get offline, go out there, and get into the trenches to learn about the industry that you wish to conquer.
The best way to do this is by getting a job in the industry you want to solve a problem in. This will allow you to get a feel for all the moving parts before committing to building an entire startup, so you can get a perspective for all the components to a business in that particular industry that you may have overlooked.
What new job are you going to take on to do a deep dive into the industry you are looking to solve problems in? We'd love to hear more. Comment below.