So you’re an innovative problem solver who’s got this great idea for a startup. You have the vision, you have the time, and you have the drive. You’re raring to go!
But you’ve never built your own business before, much less a cutting-edge startup. Neil Blumenthal, cofounder and co-CEO of Warby Parker, defines a startup as, “… a company working to solve a problem where the solution is not obvious and success is not guaranteed.”
Sounds pretty daunting, doesn’t it? It can feel that way to a lot of new entrepreneurs trying to make it “in the real world.” Plus, it can be difficult to maintain an optimistic perspective while you’re concentrating on your goal, working long hours, relying on your powers of innovation, and not always feeling like your startup will see the light of day.
So to succeed in the business world, you’ll need to be at least a little bit business savvy when starting up your company. Start here: four business skills you’ll need to build a successful startup:
This should be the first thing you do when you make the decision to build your startup. A business plan will outline the steps you need to take to realize your startup dreams, preferably in logical order. Business plans can vary greatly in detail, depending on the nature of the company, but a solid business plan will help you get some of the major business decisions out of the way at the beginning and move you forward. If you need assistance in drafting one, or if you’re feeling a little overwhelmed in the process, Noah Parsons provides a detailed guide to writing a business plan on Bplans.com.
Even if you think your idea is worth its weight in gold, it’s not actually worth anything unless you can get other people to buy into it. Especially with a startup idea, using only your confidence is not quite enough to get others onboard. Either you or another key person needs to bridge the gap between your concept and the end goal: getting your product or service into the hands of a potential client or investor. Sales is an art and science unto itself; it’s the backbone of all successful business. In his article, “What Skills Are Needed to Start a Business,” George N. Root III states that “To be effective at sales, you need to learn to combine the skills of persuasion, customer service and the ability to present information in a way that is useful to your audience.”
Whether you intend to hire a bookkeeper or act as your own accountant, it’s crucial you manage your finances from the get-go. If you choose to go it alone, consider investing in some accounting software. In James Stephenson’s Entrepreneur.com article, “The Basics of Money Management,” he recommends Quickbooks or Quicken, which are both known for being user-friendly and capable of creating invoices, tracking bank account balances, and managing your taxes.
This may seem simple, but the ability to stay organized is arguably the most important piece of the puzzle. Planning today avoids many of tomorrow’s major headaches. When venturing into startup land, things can get chaotic, and staying organized is not only the key to making sure your business operates smoothly, but it’s also vital to staying sane. Create a system for yourself and stick to it, creating a file for just about every facet of your business. There are thousands of startups taking flight every year only to crash and burn before they reach the end of the runway. If you want your new business to fly, doing your due diligence is not only wise but essential in our competitive and fast-moving market.