If you have ever been surfing the internet and read some wild startup success story where an impossibly young CEO just made the exit of a lifetime and thought “that’s it, that’s the life for me,” you are definitely not alone. The entrepreneur track is becoming increasingly popular with students and young people across the country. But how do you go about taking it?
First off, start with a problem.
This doesn’t have to be a big problem –– not every entrepreneur is going to solve homelessness or world hunger. And there’s nothing wrong with that. In fact, a lot of successful entrepreneurs address problems that just consistently plague a number of people. Like finding affordable accommodations in good locations when you’re traveling (airBnB) or creating a beautiful website without spending a ton of money or learning how to code (strikingly).
The most important component to starting out as an entrepreneur is making a solution for a problem that people have and are willing to pay to solve.
If you decide to take this path (whether you wanted to get rich, be your own boss, make your own hours, or legitimately make a difference in people’s lives) you have to remember that this isn’t about solving a problem for you, it’s about solving a problem for others. And hopefully those proverbial “others” can become your actual customers.
A mistake some people make when starting a new venture is starting with some technology that they are really excited about and that they think is really cool and just moving forward. That’s a solution looking for a problem. And that’s dangerous territory. While having cool, cutting edge technology can be important, it is rarely (if ever) the most important.
The next thing you need to do is find a partner in crime: a cofounder.
You may think that you can do this all on your own. You may even think that that’s what the entrepreneurial spirit is all about. But, while there are solo founders who do well, having a cofounder can have a profound impact on your company and your future success.
Aside from the benefit you get by just having someone to bounce ideas off of, you get access to skills that you may not have yourself. If you need a developer or a great communicator and aren’t one yourself, then a cofounder can be a huge value add. Not to mention the fact that (particularly when you are a young or aspiring entrepreneur) two networks are always better than one. In the best companies, the whole is always greater than the sum of its parts. And that’s true even of companies with only two people.
Though, one of the biggest benefits of having a cofounder isn’t necessarily the most obvious one.
When you are a young entrepreneur just starting out, it isn’t going to be all sunshine and rainbows. Sure you probably know that and expect it. But actually enduring it is an entirely different thing. There will be good days where everything seems like it’s moving right along, and there will be some days where is doesn’t. Sometimes the prospects won’t look good.
And a cofounder can be an emotional counterpoint to those times. You will have someone to help you through your own doubts and second guesses. So much of being an entrepreneur is having the fortitude to withstand the ups and downs; having a cofounder can be infinitely helpful in finding that strength.
And last but not least: Get involved in the startup scene in your community.
Even if you don’t live in a big city –– or a big tech city –– there are always opportunities to network and get involved with people who can help give you advice or push your startup forward.
Look at meetup, look at eventbrite, attend a local 3DS program, and visit your local accelerator or incubator. Just get out there and meet people. See what people are doing and how they are doing it. Learn from them and absorb everything. It’s important to have faith in yourself and your ideas, but also incredibly important to learn from other people’s own successes and failures.
Now get out there and do it.