How to be an entrepreneur?
By Carla Efstratiou
So you’ve come up with an idea; an idea that no one has had before. You’re convinced it will take the world by storm and you’ll become a millionaire because of it. So, how do you make this happen? How do you go from an idea to creating something tangible? Before doing anything, ask yourself these key questions.
- The idea — Is it original?
To be a successful entrepreneur your idea needs to be unique. “Unique” is a broad term that can range from a completely new idea; something that uses new technologies to create a product or service that has never been seen before, or it could be as simple as combining a few existing technologies, services or products together to create something new that will make people’s lives easier. The major question to ask yourself, is “How is my idea different?” Once you have a unique selling point, marketing your product will be much easier.
- Getting it off the ground — Do you have enough capital?
To start a business, you will need money. That’s the reality of it. You’ll need money for materials, rent, start-up costs, advertising, events…oh and the actual products. Set a rough budget and then add another 50% because costs almost always blow out. You also won’t have a steady income for a while (unless you continue working) so make sure you have enough to support your lifestyle until you start profiting from your venture. Being an entrepreneur is all about being smart with your money. Knowing where to cut corners and knowing where to invest.
Use your contacts
Being an entrepreneur is a little like being a jack of all trades but a master of none. You have to be all over every part of the business, from advertising to finances to technology. No one person can have all this knowledge, so either pay advisers or take a few friends out for coffee and use their skills. Everyone has a friend who works in marketing or PR. Use them to check over your press release and to give you the names and numbers of key players in the industry. Having someone who knows finances is also very helpful as you can ask them those tricky questions about tax, profit margins and every other numbers based question involved in running a business.
Get yourself a mentor
It’s a cruel world and if you don’t know your industry like the back of your hand, you’ll be taken for a ride. Find yourself a veteran in the industry to guide you. They’ll be an incredible resource off which to bounce ideas back and forth, to run prices by and most importantly, to help you realise when you’re being taken for a ride.
- Production — Stick to your vision
This is the exciting part- the part where your vision finally comes to life. You will hit many road bumps, you’ll get ripped off by a lot of people, you’ll have so many new ideas in the process, but remember: always keep to your vision! The more people you speak with, the more you want to change your initial idea, add to it, tweak it, make it bigger and bolder. Reality check: you don’t have the money, time, resources or plan in place to create something entirely different. Stick to your guns, persist with the initial idea and you’ll reap the reward at the end.
- Advertising — Build hype
Like all good multimillion dollar ad campaigns, you need to tease people. It may be a Facebook group with a few sneak peek images, or an advertorial heralding the arrival of your exciting new product. Whatever it is, people love what they can’t have, so give your customers a taster of what’s to come.
Be an active social media user
A major part of being an entrepreneur is being one step ahead of the pack. Be that in the technology stakes, trends or understanding the newest form of advertising. You need to utilize social media for all its worth to really gain a holistic understanding of your market. Understand that Facebook should be used to gain and maintain customers, whereas Twitter should be used to interact with the industry. You should be on Google+ to improve your Google rating and create an account on Pinterest to get your brand out there. Most importantly, you need to be an active social media user in your person life so you know how the average person reacts to this phenomenon. It’s the most valuable and cost effective advertising you’ll ever have.
And you’re off…what’s next? Persistence
The first few days, weeks and months of being an entrepreneur are stupidly scary. You’re run off your feet, you’re not sure how to further advertise, your budget has been blown and you need to make sales, fast. They may not come in one huge wave on the first day, but persist, keep doing what you’re doing, believe in your vision and don’t back down.
Carla Efstratiou is founder of new online fashion destination, Style Hub. Carla believes that taking the leap to become your own boss is an exercise in strength, persistence and self-belief.