Digital Skills Academy
Start-up 101, Welcome to Your New World!

Start-up 101, Welcome to Your New World!

Be ready for long hours, but working on your terms

Welcome to the exciting, demanding, up-and-down world of deciding to start your own business. It can be a gruelling process, where you question your decision on a daily basis. Yet it can also be fantastically rewarding too, and in many others ways beyond just the financial.

Creating your own company allows you to work when you want to work, with who you want to work with. Naturally, you will need to put in long hours if you are going to make a success of it. However time and time again entrepreneurs who have succeeded comment that they are happy to do this because they are doing something they enjoy doing.

Helping you on your startup journey with practical tips

Over the coming weeks, we will cover various aspects of the startup journey. In every piece our focus will be on sharing practical tips, resources and ideas to inspire you and make that journey a little easier and enjoyable. It will still be hard work, something your tutors will constantly remind you of, but the benefits are worth it. Even creating this piece for you is a case in point. It was written over a series of late evenings, to allow time in the afternoon to take the kids to the beach for a few hours. This is one of the great upsides of working for your own company.

What is a lean startup? Where can I learn more about it?

Eric Ries @ericries developed the concept and wrote the book called "The Lean Startup". You can read his book in pdf format here. He is a keen advocate of you prototyping your MVP  (minimum viable product) as soon as possible. This way, with minimal expense, you can see if there is any interest out there for your idea, without spending large amounts of money, yours or anyone else’s. You can learn more at his website.

Ok, got the theory, what do I do next?

“Get out of the building!”

No, it’s not your tutor throwing you off the course. They are pushing you to actually go and talk to people who are not the same as you. Who will challenge and disagree with your preconceptions? If you speak to the participants of any accelerator program the emphasis, again and again, is on getting out of the building. Test your idea, your business insight, does it solve a problem people need solving, would anyone actually pay money for it?

Need some inspiration on the Business Model Canvas and getting out of the building?

Alexander Osterwalder developed the Business Model Canvas to help identify possible business opportunities. You can download the template for free and also a free 72-page preview of his book Business Model Generation is available.

Steve Blank @sgblank is the expert in ‘getting out of the building’ and testing your MVP. His website talks in more detail about this and have many other resources as well.

I need to do some market research in a hurry ...

As well as talking to people face to face, you should be testing your idea online too with the free, useful, easy to learn Survey Monkey or something similar. There are many possible tools, try one, see if you like it, but use something to see what other people think of your idea.

Leverage your social network

Email, Twitter, LinkedIn, Facebook, Instagram, wherever you have connections online, use them to test out your idea. Would they use it, would they buy it, could they live without it? All key questions Steve Blank asks you to consider. Now you need to start getting some feedback on your own particular business idea. You will be amazed about possible markets and edge cases you might not have considered. You don’t need to follow all of the advice and comments, but at it will at least reduce the chances of missing something really important.

Learn from the successes and failures of others

Around the world now there are so many startup events. If you can, go to pitching events, watch who does it well, and who sucks. There are many startup events now, evenings, weekends, innovation academies all offering the opportunity to improve these key skills.

 If there is nothing near you then go online and watch Sharktank 

Dragons Den or something similar. This is a great way to watch someone pitch, and have their idea challenged, and then consider carefully whether they are being offered a good deal or not.

Also if your idea is viable there are also incubators and accelerators around the world, in China, Germany, the US, Ireland, that accept international applications too. So, wherever you are in the world, geography need not be a barrier to you developing your ideas.

What’s coming next?

Over the following weeks, we will go into more detail about different aspects of developing and growing your idea from the back of the envelope to a viable, revenue-generating business. Please read, share, and ask questions. We will be delighted to hear your feedback and make our content as relevant and useful as possible. Thanks for reading and look forward to sharing more insights with you in the coming weeks.