After we posted our most recent quote image about the three basic questions you should ask yourself before starting a business, I got inspired and felt like I needed to elaborate on the topic. Starting a startup will be much more difficult if you aren’t taking the proper steps so I wanted to list exactly what you need to nail down first when starting a business before anything else.
Step 1: What do you serve and who do you serve?
Ask yourself this right away. This is the heart of your business. It is the cornerstone. Think about what value-added contribution you are going to be making to society. Is it Uber For Babies in San Francisco? (Don’t do that…..) Or is it a bike-sharing app in an emerging city or sprawling university (Do that!). What you serve and who you serve are two separate but equally important questions because you can’t start a successful business with one and not the other. Other important questions are:
Step 2: What’s your mission as an employee?
It’s funny to ask what your mission as an employee is because the wording sounds like you’re one of the 302,000 Hewlett Packard employees serving your generic uninteresting mission. What I really mean is what is your personal mission as the employee of your company (probably the first employee at that!). In a startup, you’re going to want to do a million things. It will start out broad at first with you scraping together all things across the board but slowly, your mission will refine as you start getting help and getting things done.
When this happens, know where you lie. What is YOUR role? What part do you play or satisfy within the business? This will be crucial to the company moving forward because chances are that you won’t be good at everything and guess what, even if you are you shouldn’t do it all. A good book to check out regarding this topic is The E-Myth. It talks about how the three roles in a startup are the visionary, the people person, and the business strategist and if you try to do all three yourself, the business will fail. The next step relates perfectly to this one…
Step 3: What’s your team and what do they do?
As your business idea stars to gain a little traction between you and your network of friends or colleagues, you’ll have some enthusiastic people wanting to join in. You can’t take everybody with you so choose the most enthusiastic and trustworthy people and make sure there’s a solid role for them. It might take some time to figure out how best they serve the mission but nail it down as soon as possible so as to efficiently streamlining the work that needs to get done.
And there you have it, the first-things-firsts of a startup. After this is established, then you can go on to finding investors, compiling financial costs, and further studying your market and competitors. One step at a time and remember what Mark Cuban says: “Small businesses do not fail because of the lack of capital, they fail because of the lack of effort.”