How to Start a Start-Up

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Ever wondered how hard or easy is to launch that vibrating life of its own that lies behind the trendy word of start-up?

Would you need to win a lottery to support your business idea or would the brilliance of the idea itself conquer all the unimaginable financial adversities? Is this type of venture destined only for the “chosen ones” or can anyone do it as long as they’re willing enough?

The answers to these questions are not clear-cut and everything largely depends on the target sector of your industry, how fickle the market is, whether your lucky star shines bright enough… and on zillions of circumstances and the vicissitudes of life in general.

But before you dive into the deep-end of approaching investors, let’s take a look at the must-haves of initial stages of your start-up journey – from experiencing your eureka moment to finding your co-founder soulmates.

 

Hone your visionary skills and find what’s missing in the world

If you want to build a successful start-up, obvious and easy ideas are an easy way to not succeed. Then why do so many entrepreneurs opt for them regardless?

It’s because other obvious/not so obvious but hard ideas may seem tedious and unpleasant at first sight. They’re way too schlep, require too much painstaking work, and what’s worse, success isn’t guaranteed.

However, Paul Graham, who introduced the concept of schlep blindness in 2011, argues that these are the very ideas you should go for. Too laborious, too much of a hassle, think Elon Musk’s SpaceX or Garrett Camp and Travis Kalanick’s Uber.

Graham further elaborates that "that scariness makes ambitious ideas doubly valuable. In addition to their intrinsic value, they're like undervalued stocks in the sense that there's less demand for them among founders. If you pick an ambitious idea, you'll have less competition, because everyone else will have been frightened off by the challenges involved."

A lesson learned? Go for the scariest and hardest ideas. In a rare case like this, ignorance of possible hurdles and personal limitations can work to your advantage, which might explain why so many successful start-ups have young founders.

Inspired by Graham’s phenomenon of schlep blindness, Anna Vital designed a mind-blowing infographic, which perfectly depicts the reality of how we approach hunting for new ideas.

When idea hunting, ask yourself this question: What is missing in the world now? Or to make hunting easier and more self-rewarding, what is missing from your life now?

 

Another gem of wisdom...

... comes from Rik Lomas, founder of SuperHi, who warns of the danger of going too niche. If your start-up is overspecialised, the end result may be too few paying customers. On the other hand, if your idea is too broad and generic you might not be solving a particular problem.

  

Do a full write-up

Once you’ve caught your big fish idea, you can take a seat and note everything down. Try to be as comprehensive as possible, include anything that’s worth following up on – your conversations with others, a random observation, shower thoughts… 

 

Build a prototype

One level above writing up is building a prototype.

Even the greatest ideas don’t really count unless you execute them. Therefore, make an effort to physicalize your thoughts, if possible – program them, design them, do anything that makes them more than just thoughts on a piece of paper.

  

Don’t be shy and show your prototype to 100 people

Do you really have to bother 100 people? Yes, because you need a breadth of perspective.

Start with your closest friends and family, then progress to asking for honest opinion acquaintances and complete strangers. Also, if you’re a businessperson with non-existent technical talent, ask designers and techies if your idea is viable at all.

 

Repetition is the mother of learning how to start up

The same as in college environment, repetition is very important. Take your time and redo everything from scratch.

But don’t forget to have fun while doing it, this is your pet project.

 

Find a co-founder (unless you’re determined to be a solo founder)

Just in case you didn’t know, you can be searching for your co-founder “in an official way”, they don’t have to be your best friend you’ve known for 15+ years. You two just need to be a perfect match with a minimal inclination for co-founder fall-outs.

Jump-start your search by attending start-up and co-founder events, places swarming with like-minded people. And if you prefer to meet new people online, there are platforms like founder2be and  CoFoundersLab that make it so much easier for entrepreneurs to network and collaborate.

 

 Katarina Matiasovska writes for Inspiring Interns, which help career starters and interns succeed in the workplace. To browse their graduate jobs, including mobile jobs, visit their website.

 

 

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