Entrepreneurship is en vogue. You cannot walk more than a few blocks in a major city without stumbling upon a startup accelerator. But while startups are central to this new economic age, making it as an entrepreneur is still tough. It means building the right momentum to get your business idea off the ground.
Here are five steps to give you a framework for building the momentum needed to successfully chart your own course:
1. Find every alternative. Just because you identify a problem does not mean you are the right person to solve it. Problems are opportunities for the determined. Always put the problem above yourself. Maybe there is a way you can help, but you have to find the problem-solvers first and that requires diligence.
2. Talk to everyone you know. Momentum grows exponentially. Including others early in the process will pay huge dividends later on. This is not about feedback. You can buy feedback, but you cannot buy people who feel invested in you and your business. By engaging friends from the beginning, you are building trust with potential ambassadors.
3. Read everything you can about the industry. People listen to experts. Study the map. Knowledge gives rise to confidence and confidence gives rise to conviction. You want people to not only be confident, but convinced that your brand is right for them.
4. Build a lo-fi prototype. Develop a prototype that your friends can test. It does not need to be high tech. In fact, the simpler and cheesier it is, the better. Cheesy makes for a good story. Make a board game or rudimentary website populated by stick figures. Limit yourself to building it over a weekend. You do not need a developer or loads of money at this early stage. Building a lo-fi prototype shows you can create something out of nothing.
5. Ask yourself why you are here. Do you want to change the world? Do you want to meet Richard Branson? Do you want to make your former colleagues and lovers jealous? None of those things are likely to happen. Probability suggests that you will find yourself somewhere between making a modest living and Tom Hanks in Castaway. Are you okay with that? Is the perfect solution worth seeking even if you fail?
Never start something that you do not love. Last week, I looked at my product and felt genuine love for it. Do I feel that every day? No. Have I created the perfect solution? Absolutely not.
And I certainly have not met Oprah or Larry Page. Not yet, at least.
Related: How to Know When to Trust Your Gut