Are you one of those people that find hiring an office space and employees counterproductive? Would you rather build and run your business from home single handedly or with a co-founder/partner?
If yes, then you're not alone. As per the last recorded US Census Bureau statistics, there were just over 23 million non-employer firms operating in the US.
I've known people who've built a million-dollar businesses working from their mother's kitchen table. While it's quite possible to build one and replicate the success of others, it's also a very daunting task and more of a tall order because home is also the place where you relax with your family, have chores to run and if you have children, you'd be spending a great deal of time with them as well.
Amidst all of this, if you're gunning to build a successful startup that can scale up to and beyond the $1+ million mark in revenues, you've set yourself up for a challenge. Although, a sweet one at that, if you ask me.
So, what must you do to replicate the success of those who've 'made it'? There are a few things to get started, but as you start to grow, you have to improvise based on your unique situation, product, market and customer engagement. Let's look at a list of things that will get you started in the right direction.
- Stay motivated: If money is your motivation, you're likely to quit when revenues dip or when faced with tough times. Be motivated by the right reasons that can hold you in good stead and keep you moving forward when the going gets tough.
- Outsource and automate: There will be many tasks that are mundane but can get overwhelming (book keeping, expense management, social media monitoring, etc). Simply outsource to an agency, those that are not your strengths or leverage online tools available for self-servicing.
- One big task a day: focusing on just one or a couple of important tasks each day (those that move your business forward) will ensure you do them well and also help you get started--too many tasks tend to overwhelm and is a single biggest reason why people just don't start.
- Be mindful of your time: there are going to be distractions at home and in your personal life (classes, social life, holidays, etc). Set priorities based on the goals you want to achieve and regularly give yourself breaks as incentives.
- Entrepreneurship isn't fancy: entrepreneurship or the path to building a company isn't fancy or glamorous as it's projected to be. At most times, it's about being indoors hacking away at your laptop for many days at end. You also don't have fixed working hours--mostly, they'd be long.
- Remember who defines success: it's extremely important to be mindful of the fact that it's you who defines your success. There's no one else who holds the responsibility for the same and your business will only go that far as much as you'd want it to.
- Two things should have 90% of your attention: product and sales. Without a quality product, you can't expect sales. And without sales, you wont be able to continuously improve your product experience. Also, as Guy Kawasaki famously said, "Sales fixes everything", live that mantra, because only if you are cash-flow positive can you move forward.
- Learn new skills: learn all the skills that are imperative to move your business forward such as marketing, customer service, etc. The founders best do these, at least in the initial stages when they're discovering what channels work best.
- Don't be disheartened by failures: if you've started on the path to entrepreneurship, failures are imminent. Don't be disheartened. Improvise on the concept or the execution, pivot or look for your next best idea. Only if you keep trying is when you increase your chances of winning. Remember, you only need to get it right ONCE.
- Enjoy the process: in my journey of building four companies, I've realized it's very easy to get stressed and lost in the process of building. What helps at this stage is to refocus on the reason why you started in the first place. Think about that moment and then focus on the things that make you happy. Enjoy your days while building your company--this isn't a sprint, it's a long relay.
Whatever you decide to do as a business, always start with a problem that a specific category of people have or one that you have encountered yourself. Do not start up because market research states great potential for your industry.
Go the extra mile in finding out what challenges people are facing, and then build your product or service to address that. Most of the successful entrepreneurs solved a problem they personally encountered in their own lives.