Starter kit for a start-up. 2020 to me is a very adventurous year where I really go all out into kick-starting my own business. At first, I do whatever I could think of and slowly gain experience along the way which then land me at my current business (Go Doodle - online creative learning platform). I had been reading different books and articles about how do we start something without any idea which helps me to find some direction while burning my pocket.
The Learning Points
Know your advantage and preference
This is one of the first things that I would need to do before I kick start anything. Without knowing my own strength and preferences, then it would be pointless to jump out from employment and start something that I do not like to do. Plus, it is best that I could start with something that I am good with so that I could go further and deeper with the level of skill I have.
For example, people with working experience is a great strength especially when you are coming out to start a business that would relate to your past experience. Besides, by dipping long enough in the industry through employment, one can learn about the pain points of the industry while earning some money too! This what I am looking at my architectural career which I do not want to provide the conventional services available but still in the midst of finding the pain point that I want to deliver a solution for.
Resources like money, connections, creative and other hard skills can also be an asset for us to kick start our business. Also, it is good to consider our hobbies as a reference on what industry that we want to go into. Like myself, I am very fascinated with people and psychology. I always enjoy talking with people and learning their stories. With that, I could see some patterns and deliver some advice or provide some resources for them to improve their life. This is also why I choose to start the online creative learning platform where I could be still in touch with creativity where I need to build the infrastructure for the business (in creative business as well) plus it is inter-related with education and people. This is to ensure that I am willing to put in commitment for the long term.
However, it is advisable to not start if one does not know their own strength or preferences. This is due to the lack of confidence or understanding about our own self which will make the startup likely to fail.
Identify the target audience that you want to serve
Since I started Go Doodle, I find that it is extremely hard to target a wide audience. It is expensive and impossible to tell a story that could appeal to many. Therefore, I learned to narrow my target audience and slowly I get to know who I should serve first and do my best in that segment. As of now, I am looking at a 30-50 plus years old female, who has a reasonable good income that could be spent on learning hobbies, curious in their nature, aspiring and have kids (if possible). Of course, there are more parameters that will help me narrow down further on the demography that I just described. This could largely help my marketing campaign on how to appeal to the audience and deliver the right solution for them.
Copy and paste business model, innovate later
Knowing that starting up has a success rate of less than 1%, it is crucial that we copy that successful one. At the very least, we increase our probability of surviving through the first 3 years and see whether we are able to sustain the business and grow it. Of course, it is impossible and not feasible to copy exactly what others are doing. As we have our very own target audience and local context, we need to tweak on that to fit in our very own geographical context and business nature. Once we successfully build the business up, then only we start to innovate part by part. This the path I am taking which is much secured than coming out with a totally new idea and launch to the market.
Follow the trend
Learning about the trend is one of the keys to build a sustainable business. We do not want to build something that will become obsolete in like 5 years. For example, we do not want to go back to inventing the gasoline car as we know that the trend is showing the industry is slowly moving into the smarter and electrical powered vehicle. In my case, being in the education industry, I need to know how education will be in the future. By studying what is currently happening around the world in this industry can help me to identify the obvious trend. Example like rising Edu-tech that utilizes deep learning and AI to assist the teacher to mark the works, smart analytic software that could suggest learning tips to the students, and many more. Besides that, the education module has also changed from having learning process happening solely in the classroom to anywhere without the constraint of a classroom.
Know your limits
Without knowing our limits, we can easily burn out and end up with nothing. Therefore, it is wise to plan ahead the runway that we have when we decided to startup. In my case, I had given myself a year to experience and work on my project. Within this year, I need to work out a sustainable business model that could generate me a positive cash flow or at the very least break even. That would signify that I could work on that and continue to sustain myself by bootstrapping.
Talk less, listen more for a ratio of 20 to 80. It is wise advice I get from many mentors that I came across that I should listen and absorb experience and knowledge that the mentors have to offer. Without all the hard critics and comments, I will need to go through a lot of obstacles and some are super dumb mistakes that with some reminder from the mentors could be prevented.
Set your goal
Finally, setting the goal on why we start the business and how we want the business leads us to. This will decide on what kind of resources we need to proceed and how far we can go on. Of course, the bigger the goal, the bigger the risk and the reward will be exponentially larger. Thus, think wise and it is fine to change the goals from time to time as we are always learning in the startup journey.
2020 to me is a very intensive year to be in. I learned a lot from scratch and tried different things that I never imagined I will do. Of course, I will still push myself further and achieve more, especially in making my startup sustainable and grow! This is one of my biggest wish for the year and a goal that I need to accomplish. Now, we are near to the final quarter of the year, so better buck up and accelerate.
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Note: This is my startup page. Do drop by and have a look too!
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