Is your new year's resolution to start a business? Here are a few tips from April Lane, Quinlan’s clinical professor of entrepreneurship, to get you on the right path.
What you think you know about starting a business is most likely out of date. Business plans? We don’t really write those anymore. Instead it’s time to get up to speed on how we start businesses now. Get familiar with the terms: business model canvas, lean startup, and customer development. Read anything by Steve Blank, Ash Maurya, and Eric Ries. Take Steve Blank’s course on Udemy. Find some blogs or books on starting a business and get reading.
We all have ideas, but what you really want is a good problem. Look around. What problems do you encounter in your life? The lives of your friends and family? Your job? Get out and talk to people about the problems they encounter and how they go about solving them now. Look for gaps, inefficiencies, outdated technologies, etc. Think about how you could do it better.
There are a ton of entrepreneurial support groups that you can leverage for guidance that are often free or low cost. Connect with local universities, small business development centers, or SCORE for help. Look for online courses on sites like Udemy and iTunesU, videos on YouTube, and even great podcasts like Tech in Chicago, Bootstrapping in America, and The Full Ratchet. Find like-minded people at events through Meetup.com, Chambers of Commerce, industry associations, and BuiltInChicago.com.
Surround yourself with entrepreneurs. Starting a business is hard and a lot of people can’t relate. Find other who are at your stage or further along for help. They can share experiences to help cut through the noise of what works or doesn't; and can offer "therapy" to keep you sane when things get tough. Concerned about someone stealing your idea? Don’t. Seriously. Ask for help, introductions, referrals, capital, etc. Startup communities are incredibly helpful and supportive.
Most people spend their time talking about starting a business and never actually get around to doing anything because “it’s not a good time.” Well, there is never a good time so you might as well just do it. Today. Not tomorrow. Not next week. Today.