Tips

Somewhere Between NDA And PDA

An entrepreneur’s biggest fear

Unfortunately, we have this belief that when others hear our idea, they will take it and run. They will make all the money in the world. And, somehow, they will get it just right. I’m not going to argue whether an idea is important or not; I’m going to address the elephant in the room startup world: a hidden fear found in most – if not all – entrepreneurs that others want to and will steal their precious idea.

Once we have our idea, we tend to hold on to it and keep it to ourselves. Why is that? Probably because we think someone will copy it, steal it. We don’t realize that one day someone will do the exact same thing and that someone is a competitor. So why do we focus so much on keeping it secret in the first place, why are we so competition-averse at first but not later, why are we paranoid and afraid?

It’s stupid to think that talking about an idea means giving it away; it’s naive to think that our idea is original and no one has done it before; it’s short-sighted to think that someone won’t copy it sooner or later; it’s undermining to think that we can’t do it better. Facebook wasn’t first, and neither was Google. Elon Musk isn’t afraid to publicly discuss his ideas (see this image of him talking about his plans for Hyperloop on Twitter) and I doubt he ever feared telling people about his idea to build a high-performance electric vehicle. And you know what? He’s doing just fine.

Just because you think your idea is great, it doesn’t mean someone else will. And even if they do, they may not take a huge interest in it. And then if they do, they will not have the vision you have. You can always do it better than others; you have to if you want to be successful. Think NDA’s are going to save you? Think again. I’m not telling you to start flashing your idea around like a couple engaging in PDA at the bar, but do try to be more open about it. Don’t be paranoid, but don’t be careless either.

What’s an entrepreneur to do with an idea if not tell the world about it?

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Obsession Is Your Enemy, Keep Him Close

A dose of obsession

I’ve talked about an entrepreneur’s best friend, so today I’ll talk about your enemy number one: obsession. Obsession, according to Dictionary.com, “is the domination of one’s thoughts or feelings by a persistent idea, image, desire, etc”. Successful entrepreneurs obsess over their idea (and over every detail of their startup), unsuccessful entrepreneurs obsess over their idea as well (and every other detail of their startup, too). So what’s the difference??

Obsession isn’t all bad; Google offers the following synonyms for obsession: compulsion, infatuation and even passion. It’s also a strong desire, belief or love for something. It’s the kind of desire, belief, or love that gets you going, motivates you, encourages you, and drives you. In part, it takes a bit of obsession to get into entrepreneurship; an entrepreneur has to be a little bit crazy, right?

On the hand, obsession can be bad, it can be a disease, and perfection is often a symptom. Unfortunately, perfection is an inhibitor and it may lead to analysis paralysis, a state in which over-thinking actually stunts a startup’s growth by impairing your decision-making abilities. How can you sell your product if you’re spending too much time preparing a demo? How can you ship your product if you’re analyzing its design too deeply? How can you ship your product if you’re afraid of people’s reactions?

The good side of obsession is persistence, the bad side is blindness so beware tunnel vision. Find the balance that is right for you and steer your startup in the right direction. Use your obsession to push yourself forward, but don’t let it hold you back. Obsession is wanting to make dreams to come true, but is that really so crazy?

Can you tame your obsession?

Why $10 Is Better Than $1M For Your Startup

Here’s why we should change the way we think about money for startups

Ten dollars is, of course, a nominal amount. But, the point is that if someone – anyone – is willing to invest even the smallest amount of their own money on your product, then you know you’re onto something. The bigger implication here is that money for startups is, most of the time, synonym to investment when money for startups should mean support; so stop searching for that big paycheck and go find what will really boost your startup.

Many startups have been successful by charging for their product from the very first day. Although that may not work for every startup, charging upfront means more than just having incoming revenue, it means receiving support from people who care. Another way to get support straightaway is through crowdfunding, where every contribution counts no matter how big or small because it’s the power of the community that makes a difference. This means, again, receiving support form people who care.

Besides being a great way to validate your startup idea, charging for your product or asking for contributions will get you real, genuine support as opposed to an investor looking to make a quick buck off your idea. Bootstrapping might not be a possibility for every entrepreneur, but startups should pay more attention to alternative opportunities for growth. While a large investment might help market the product and increase user base, a small number of paying users can help improve the product itself and strengthen communication.

One million dollars is a dream, a mirage in the desert, and worst of all, it’s a distraction. An entrepreneur has to think about every dollar cent his startup earns – and to fight to earn it. With every cent comes great support (yes, I’m borrowing from Spider-Man) and you would do well to collect all the great support you can because it will make a huge difference for your startup. Your customer is your biggest supporter and when you do cash out, it will be more fulfilling knowing that people have supported you along the way than filling your pocket with money.

What would you do with $10 (from a loyal and recurring customer)?

Ideas Are A Dime A Dozen, Invest In More Than One

Debunking the startup idea

Startup ideas are overrated. They are like weird relatives: everyone has one. And since ideas are so easy to come by, why not invest your time and effort in more than one? The more, the better! After all, ideas are a dime a dozen, right?

Ideas don’t cost money – not initially, at least. There are even ways you can validate your idea for free. If you’re a technical person, you can build your own product; if you’re a suit businessman then you can build your community. All it really costs you is your time. Now, you might have a family, a job or other commitments, but you can always decide how much time you want to invest in your ideas.

Too often, entrepreneurs get caught up in thinking about the money, how much it would take to build something and how much to market it. Well, normally you should be to do at least one of those with your time. You may then need to think about finding a partner for the other part or, at this point, consider the money that would be required. Either way, that’s less money you need to invest, and more time you can invest.

Entrepreneurship is risky and investing all your time in one idea can be a bad idea (no pun intended). It’s like they say, you don’t want to put all your eggs in one basket. So, think about trying out different ideas to maximize your chances of success! Another reason for doing more than one idea at the same time is purely to stimulate your brain by exercising it with different tasks and pumping it with creativity. Get your juices flowing!

The idea isn’t really the idea. It’s just another idea. Another in a long line of ideas. Some will work, some won’t. Why limit yourself to one only?

How many ideas do you think you can juggle?

Beware: Tunnel Vision, A Nightmare For Entrepreneurs

Tunnel vision is a startup killer

An entrepreneur’s job is tough – we all know that – but one of the lesser-discussed challenges we face is tunnel vision. Entrepreneurs are prone to tunnel vision because we set out sights on something and we focus so hard on getting it that we forget the other “stuff”. Like race horses, we see only the finish line, rather than everything that’s happening around us.

As entrepreneurs, we set out with a business goal: to conquer the world. Joking but we do all want a million users or a million dollars or a million followers or a million something. The problem is getting caught up in our goal and not being able to look past it which makes us miss opportunities, sacrifice quality, and drive users away. Most goals lead to other goals, and the best goals are the ones that escalate towards your startup’s mission.

When you’re chasing a million followers, you forget your users; when you’re chasing a million users, you forget your revenue; when you’re chasing a million dollars, you forget your product; when you’re chasing a million anything, you forget everything else. Of course it’s important to have goals, know your goals, chase your goals, but an entrepreneur’s job is to juggle all the goals of your startup while keeping in mind its mission, and overlooking goals can cost you big time.

When is the last time you got your eyes checked?

Validate Your Startup Idea On The Cheap

Ways to validate your startup idea

  1. set up a landing page and a goal (ex. number of sign-ups) to test your concept
  2. go crowdfunding, get support and feedback from the community
  3. contact 10 would-be customers, explain your idea and ask if they want you to build it for them
  4. list 5 potential customers by name (see Inc. Magazine’s napkin test)
  5. build a page to ask people for one social share (ex. a tweet) from those who believe in your product
  6. send the idea to 3 friends and ask each to pass it on to 3 others if they believe in it (and so on)
  7. try a simpler version of your idea (ex. be consultant or freelancer, build a web app, do the work manually before writing code, etc.)
  8. run a survey to find out how many people have the pain/problem you’re solving or have an interest in your idea
  9. write down all the negatives and weaknesses of your idea and evaluate whether these can be defended or overcome
  10. find at least one startup/business that’s doing the same or something similar now or in the past (if possible, contact the founders for advice)
  11. start a blog and grow a community of supporters around the topic of your idea
  12. establish yourself as an expert in the field (if you aren’t already) and use your followers for feedback and promotion
  13. recruit a partner, co-founder, or team to build your idea
  14. get one client (who isn’t your mom!) to agree to pay for and test your product once it is built
  15. submit your idea to a startup community such as Westartup to get feedback and make connections

Create products that people love by validating your idea first and channel your passion in order to be successful. Validating your idea is very important but can seem difficult. It’s easier than you think and all it takes is some thinking and some effort. Validation will be necessary at any stage when you think about finding a co-founder, recruiting a team, attracting investors and so on. Validation early on can help you get the next steps started and kick your startup into gear by saving time and effort right from the start.

Have you thought about validating your startup idea?

Routine, An Entrepreneur’s Best Friend

A change of pace with routine

One of the big changes I’ve made recently is adding routine to my life. I’ve always been one to act on impulse and a bit of a procrastinator. Sure, I get things done but sometimes at the last minute. With a routine, I always know what to do when and what needs to be done now. So I’m going to tell you how and why routine can be your friend, too.

An entrepreneur must know how to best use his time and apply his energy. Whether you work from home, the office, a co-working space, or you have a job, family, etc., routine will help you organize your tasks and priorities.

I now enjoy the benefits of routine – here are some rewards you can reap:

  • you’ll have time to devote to yourself, your hobbies, your fulfillment
  • there are only so many hours a day and you’ll boost your productivity at any given time
  • routine is like a daily workout and you’ll train your body and muscles for maximum output
  • doing things on time keeps the people around you happy, and you, in turn, happier
  • don’t ever forget the things you have to do again

Look for these barriers – and overcome them!

  • it takes energy to build a new routine and it takes time for it to become a habit
  • deep down, procrastination is a habit so you have to fight to break it
  • life is unpredictable and things are sure to come up, so make some time for dealing with the unforeseen

Now, routine gives me more time and focus. I’m sharp and getting sharper and I look forward to my daily workout. It’s great motivation for an entrepreneur and it produces real results. Give it a try and see for yourself what kind of routine suits you best.

Turn your boring routine into a challenging workout to train and better yourself!

Everything Entrepreneurship

We’re all entrepreneurs in one way or another. We constantly fix things, change things, take risks and reap rewards. Whether it’s in life, family, career or sports. It’s just the human way. Successful entrepreneurs generally take a hands-on approach towards life. Problems can be solved and the rest can be improved. It’s this mindset that sets them apart.

Entrepreneurship can be applied to anything and everything in life. Freelancers and independent workers act like one-man businesses; politicians also act like entrepreneurs – they campaign for their ideals and causes; in the corporate world, it’s called intrapreneurship when an employee undertakes a venture within the company – this is common when people feel the risk is too great to set off and start a business on their own. Generally, entrepreneurs tackle big challenges so we associate entrepreneurship with big things.

But it’s the little challenges, the everyday things, that make us better, that make us grow. Some of those might turn into businesses and eventually into success; some won’t. What’s important is what you put into it and what you get from it. Doing even the smallest daily tasks with a can-do attitude turns you into a dedicated and passionate leader, solving the tiniest problems with an out-of-the-box perspective helps you become a creative and innovative problem-solver, and making the slightest improvements in your life makes you an analytical thinker. It starts there but is so much more too, and it all adds up to entrepreneurship.

Entrepreneurship is in everything so embrace the challenges you face. Entrepreneurship is everywhere so open yourself up to the opportunities around you. When you start doing that, you’ll see how simple and easy being an entrepreneur can be.

What do you think about everything entrepreneurship?

Just Get Started Already – With Little Steps

I’ve been meaning to start a blog for ages now and I had envisioned my first post being an explanation of why and how I had finally come around to it and bla bla bla. Maybe I’ve been waiting for the stars to align, but the truth is that it’s just time to get off my ass and start writing.

Among startup circles you’ll often hear something along the lines of “just get started” so I figure if they’re all saying it then there must some truth to it, right? I mean, these guys are experts, veterans, professionals, surely they know what they’re talking about… However, that can sometimes be overwhelming for aspiring entrepreneurs.

When goals seem too big, they may also seem out of reach. Take it down a notch by establishing small goals or tasks that you can visualize and accomplish. I’m an aspiring entrepreneur, I have big ideas; it’s difficult to start but here I am writing a post about it. Don’t let that keep you in your comfort zone though, so stay on your feet and be sure to challenge yourself as you go.

We all have something holding us back, whether it’s family, career, procrastination or fear, but then again, these guys did it and continue to do it and when they talk about it, well, it almost seems easy. Today I decided to take a little step with this short post, maybe tomorrow I’ll build my startup. Get out there and take your first steps too, no matter what kind of project you’re taking on and good luck!

What’s one little step you can take today to get started?