by Stella Fayman on February 15, 2012
This is the continuation of a series of posts by entrepreneur Pooja Vithlani, creator of Sass Factory, a customizable, paper-doll inspired t-shirt and applique line for girls age 5-12 with an interactive web experience.
So you have decided to take the plunge and start a company, now what?
1) Will you go at it alone or will you seek partners to join you? Do your partners need to work on it full time or part time to make it successful? I know of countless budding entrepreneurs who made the mistake of partnering with friends who are also working part-time. In the stories I’ve heard, they all start off with great enthusiasm but soon fizzle out when one or more of the partners chooses to dedicate their time to the job that pays the bills over the side business. Be realistic about how much partners can commit to a project. If you go at it alone, are you prepared to dedicate a lot more of your free time to being hands-on. And do you have the budget to outsource the skills you need to hire to get things done? I decided to go it alone – I wanted to implement my ideas and I didn’t want to depend on anyone else to make decisions. I knew being the sole decision maker would be important for me to realize my vision.
- What to Consider Before Teaming Up with a Partner
- 10 Tips for Entrepreneurs on Working with a Partner
2) Do you have the support you need both personally and financially? If you are single, do you have a plan for how much you will budget and how you will be able to pay for the unexpected expenses related to starting a business. If you have children, do you have a plan on how they will be cared for and what sacrifices you may need to make in order to get your business off the ground, and thereafter. Is your spouse prepared to support you and provide the required back-up responsibilities that he/she may not be doing right now? Where are you and your family willing to compromise on your current lifestyle to afford the business? Although I didn’t have a husband or children to consider, I did sacrifice a lot of my personal time. Also, I can honestly say that any personal savings I would have put away have been spent on my business. It was slightly more than I budgeted but it I still believe it was worth the sacrifice.
- 8 Tips on Preparing Your Family for Entrepreneurship
- 10 Tips for a Happy Marriage
- So You Want to Be an Entrepreneur Quiz
- 8 Tips on Preparing Your Family for Entrepreneurship
3) How much will you reveal to your employers? Check your employer’s disclosure policy on moonlighting. Some employers require you to tell them up front, but if you don’t need to, then keep it to yourself. Only when you are ready to launch, and even then be mindful, should you share your plans with people you are close to at work. Don’t forget, some people will not be supportive of you because of many reasons. Don’t take it personally – those reasons most often have more to do with themselves than they do with you.
Be realistic about how long it will take. Every single person who I know who has worked full time while trying to launch their dream business has taken much longer than they expected to. Often times you are working on your business at the times of day you are the least productive (late at night) or are just burnt out from the day and the stresses of your day job. Don’t be too hard on yourself and set expectations for yourself that are reasonable.
4) Do you have a concept? If you have a concept, you should refine it. Although some don’t recommend creating a business plan, I highly recommend it. It forces you to think through your concept and ask yourself critical questions that could prevent churn or delays later on. Create a business plan for your own sake, but put the effort into it that you would if you were using it to pitch investors/partners. If you don’t have a concept, you need to do a lot of research. Make sure you decide on something that not only fills a gap in the market or solves a problem, but also gets you jazzed up. My career has always been in the consumer space, and I know I personally cannot get behind a product or service that I can’t see myself paying for. You will be pouring a lot of time and energy into this concept so make sure you put a lot of thought and are genuinely excited by your concept. Also, make sure you think through and take the required steps to protect your concept using patents, trademarks, etc.
- How to Find Your Passion
- How to Launch a Business – Part 1, Finding an Idea
- Brainstorming for New Startup Ideas: A Framework to Spur Creative Thinking
- Business Planning and Financial Forecasting – A Start-Up Guide
5) Pursue opportunities that develop transferrable skills from your day job. I work with many MBAs from some of the best business schools across the country and I have learned a lot from working with them, especially on developing strategies and plans. However, I have also learned a lot from work that isn’t highly strategic that has been more hands on. I’ve never turned down an opportunity to work on a project that requires a skill I don’t have, and as a result, I have managed to gain valuable experience in product management, marketing, business management, external hiring and project management. All of these have contributed to my ability to create my own business, source skills where I need them and leverage my own skills where I can.