If you’re reading this, odds are you already have the creativity, ingenuity, and drive to start your own business. You might even already have a business idea. You’re on top of the small tasks like creating a logo and a name on your how to start a business to-do list. But, what’s your plan for the bigger, more important steps that it takes to get your business off the ground and running?
We turned to Debi Kleiman, the executive director of The Arthur M. Blank Center for Entrepreneurship, for her expert advice on how to start a business. In the past year, she and her team at the Blank Center have awarded over $120,000 in funding and worked with 320+ entrepreneurs across 275 businesses. She shared three pieces of advice that could transform your “ah-ha” moment into a real venture.
Polish Your Pitch
“To any person you pitch to, you need to be able to clearly and concisely talk about your startup in 20 seconds or less,” says Kleiman. A crisp pitch helps people fully understand what you are trying to sell. In addition, it gives people the opportunity to engage with you on what your company is about. Once you are able to clearly communicate your business idea to others, they will be able to share your idea just as easily. Thus spreading the word, which will hopefully lead to a groundbreaking connection.
Seek Out Feedback
“One of the biggest mistakes that our entrepreneurs at Babson make,” Kleiman says, “is that they don’t seek enough feedback.” Skimping on market research can threaten your new business. Step out of your social circle and talk to as many people about your product as possible. Don’t just leave it up to the thoughts and opinions of your family and friends. Strangers have a higher probability of giving you honest feedback that you can apply during your entrepreneurial journey.
Some questions you can ask yourself:
- Are there features to add? Take away?
- Does a similar product already exist?
- How is your product different or better from others in the marketplace in which you will compete?
- Will someone actually pay money for your product?
Create a Culture
“A company’s culture is one of those things that people don’t think about in the beginning. But, the truth is, you should be thinking about it right from the start,” says Kleiman. Culture is more than ping-pong tables and an on-site gym. It’s about purpose. It should be set up to empower employees through training, mentorship, and internal growth. As you set out to create a culture and more employees join your team, the feeling that you create will have a trickle-down effect. Your employees will feel it and that feeling will translate to your products. Ultimately, your customers will feel it, too.
So roll up your sleeves and hone a 20-second pitch. Seek out feedback and face any critique with fearless tenacity. And, dive into the soul of your company, its values, and how you would like the general public to perceive it. Fortune has been known to favor the bold. But, when it comes to how to start a business, it also smiles on the ones who are prepared.
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