What you should know about owning a start-up – 8 must-have qualities for entrepreneurs

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Test your concept on real customers first.
Test your concept on real customers first.

I wouldn’t want to put you off about owning a start-up but there’s some things you ought to know before you decide to go it on your own.

And that the one major thing you’ll have to realise and accept: when you start something, you are totally on your own. You will need to do everything in the beginning. Nothing will happen without you making it happen.

The exciting part, the work that will absorb all your energies, is when you come up with an idea for a new product and service. Going about validating your market concept, testing it, doing informational interviews with customers, suppliers, expert in your chosen field, can offer the thrill of discovery.

You may come up with a spontaneous idea while in the shower, driving or walking. You could come across an insider idea which means finding some concept that people have overlooked or ignored in your present or past work environment. Or you could generate a deliberate idea using idea generation tools such as freewriting, Fusion Cards, random word generation or with a market/opportunity grid.

When you take your product or service to market after completing your initial customer tests – even making your first sales – the real test of your vision, your determination to follow your passion will begin.

Days will go like this: you won’t get enough appointments to see customers. Employees, if you have one even part-time, will let you down. Sales will not materialise as you expected. The advertising you’re running in print or off-line will not be pulling. You may have to contend with a product defect. Your shipment arrived late for an important customer.

You’re responsible for it all.

That’s why self-reflection before you start anything is so important. Do you have the characteristics of an entrepreneur? These are a few:

  1. Competence and skill
  2. Can handle ambiguity
  3. Able to deal with multiple tasks
  4. Possess high self-confidence
  5. Shrewd opportunity seeker
  6. Can make decisions quickly without all the information
  7. Tenacious and determined
  8. People-orientated and friendly no matter the stress

That’s why it’s a good idea to try a kitchen table, backyard, garage, part-time lifestyle or side-of-your-desk business before you decide to go full-time.

When people who’ve been there say you should have a clear goal, purpose, passion or vision to start a business, don’t ignore this wisdom. You’ll require strong motivation to handle the turmoil, the ups and downs of starting something new.

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