Start with ONE product:
Most people get excited about their business ideas because they
imagine it at its final stage. My mistake was to think I could launch
the magazine, the web TV and the event planning activities at the same
time. Instead of focusing on one thing and doing it right, I got
caught up in an unsustainable rhythm.
Target a specific market:
When people asked me what was Pink-Gore's audience I used to say
"everybody who loves art". That was just the end right there. Today if
you ask me what Bobby Finance's target audience is, I will answer
"Non-finance professionals and students in the range 19-34 years old
who are aspiring to be entrepreneurs or to improve their money
management skills". Even such a description includes a wide market.
For example, I could narrow my target audience further by geographic
location, cultural affiliation or income.
Challenge your business model:
I thought I could make enough revenue from events to finance the other
activities, but it was unrealistic. Indeed, organizing an event in
itself requires a lot of money and effort, and I was never able to
Put some money aside:
A big challenge for any young company is working capital. You start
with a fund, and then money runs out because of all the expenses you
have to meet to reach your clients. Try to avoid this issue by setting
a cushion for hard times and by looking for startup financing options.
You may want to launch a clothing line because you imagine your name
on buildings downtown, people lining up for your fashion shows, stars
wearing your brand and you swimming in a pool full of money,
Tommy-Hilfiger-style. However, we seldom think about the long and hard
steps we may have to go through like struggling with money or dealing
with the naysayers.
BEING good is better than LOOKING good: Many startups want to appear
bigger than they are in order to attract their first clients (fake it
till you make it right?). For example, they might prematurely spend
money on expensive marketing before having a working product. Instead,
they might be better served by ensuring the product is ready before
going after clients.
Partners help if you are starting a business while working full-time
or if you need validation for your business model and market strategy.
Unfortunately I missed that component. Instead, I got a team of
followers who had problems of their own, eager to get eventually
remunerated instead of volunteering for a small company like mine.
Get some "street cred": I was not an artist, I just loved art.
Unfortunately it was not enough for me to get the community's support.
Artists agreed to work with me because I came in with money to promote
their work, but it was hard to establish a mutual trust because we
came from two different backgrounds.
Periodically you should play devil's advocate, step back from your
emotional attachment and assess your progress objectively. Ask
yourself if you have attained your objectives. If no, how far are you
from reaching them? Did any external factors affect your ability to
continue? Does the idea sound as viable as the first time? What kind
of feedback are you getting from your circle? Did you generate any
revenue? Did you grab the interest of potential investors?
Be ready to change: If most of the answers to the questions above are
negative, then you may need to make adjustments. You may even consider
shutting down the business. Sometimes it`s better to fail and use the
lessons learned for your next venture, than to lose extra time and
money on a product that does not sell.