Most first-time entrepreneurs have a pretty good idea of the type of business they want to start. Perhaps they like what they do for a living, but know they could run a better company, or perhaps they are just tired of working so hard to line someone else’s pocket. Maybe they have a hobby they’ve been doing for years and believe they could make a go of sharing that passion with others. In either case, these would-be entrepreneurs generally have a good grasp of the basic operations of the business. Unfortunately, the operations are only half the battle.
Every business, no matter what type or industry, must rely on business fundamentals to stay afloat. Good marketing, solid financial management, strategic planning, and other business skills make the difference between the startups that fold up the tent and those that thrive. The difficulty for many entrepreneurs is figuring out how to master this broad range of skills before launching their own venture.
Of course, there are a number of options. You could go back to school – over 2000 colleges and universities in the US now offer entrepreneurship classes in one form or another. But school is expensive and time-consuming, and the jury is still out on how much formal education really teaches you about actually managing a real business. You could take the learn-as-you-go approach, one that is highly recommended by some startup experts. The problem with that method is that it can be very expensive to use the trial-and-error approach and take much longer for your business to hit its stride. A third possibility is to outsource every non-core task (everything but the operations), also a popular recommendation from some experts. But if you are going to turn over all control to outsiders, doesn’t that defeat the purpose of starting your own company?
A better option is to schedule time to really plan out your business idea, and hyperfocus your efforts on one area at a time. Thoroughly planning a startup covers hundreds of individual topics and steps. Most people have a passing familiarity with some or most of them, but an in-depth knowledge is necessary to really succeed in business. Even if you opt to outsource specific tasks after startup, you will at least know enough to know if you are getting the services you are paying for.
By taking a step-by-step approach to launching your business idea, you give yourself the opportunity to focus on each step as it comes. You can research and analyze the options for every aspect, becoming an expert in every department of your company (as a good owner should). By hyperfocusing, concentrating on only one area at a time, you can dig deeper into each subject and decide for yourself which aspects make sense for your business idea and which can be dismissed. You can identify opportunities for the future and keep them in your long-term plan. You can make informed, justifiable decisions all along the way, rather than blindly throwing money around hoping some will come back.
Starting a business is one of the most complicated, difficult, and rewarding experiences available, and worth every effort and cost when it succeeds. Unfortunately, too many entrepreneurs jump in without building a strong enough foundation to survive. Wherever you are in the startup process, consider stepping back and taking a step-by-step, hyperfocused approach to your work. The payoff of always knowing what you are doing is worth every extra day it takes to open the doors.