Many people have written tips, guides and questions for aspiring entrepreneurs. Many of them are excellent, but I don’t think anyone has captured the essence of the stages a young entrepreneur goes through and specific advice for what they should do at each stage. As part of our efforts at GreenhornConnect.com, we want to create a central location that provides the information that an aspiring entrepreneur needs to go from starting out (Is this for me? What should I do?) to evaluating an idea (What goes into a business plan? How do I build a team?) to being a real business (Do I need investment? What tools should I use?).
In the coming weeks, I’ll be writing different sections of this guide in my blog, pulling from my experiences, what I’ve read and advice I’ve heard from others. If you read this and think something is missing or disagree with any of the advice, please comment; I want this to be the best guide possible and will gladly give you credit for your contribution. Thanks.
PART I: Starting from Scratch
You recently had the epiphany you want to be an entrepreneur, but really haven’t gotten started yet. Here’s what to do…
1) Is this for You?
When you first decide you are really interested in entrepreneurship, the key is to get informed. It’s easy to say you love startups, but it’s another thing to truly understand what you’re saying. The best way to determine if it is for you is to start reading. Read inspirational articles written by entrepreneurs like Ken Morse, Paul Graham and Mark Cuban. Still interested? Talk to family and friends and try to find people who are entrepreneurs that you can talk to about what it’s like. After hearing about all the challenges, long hours and risk of failure, if you still want to be an entrepreneur, read on…
2) Try EVERYTHING…Be Curious
A key trait of being an entrepreneur is a desire to learn. When you’re getting started, you should try to take in everything you can to learn about different types of startups and roles you can fill in a startup. Fill your Google Reader with industries you’re interested in and blogs in areas you want to learn more about. You don’t have to read every article, just the ones that interest you; simply reading the headlines of the other articles can help you to grasp where different industries are technologically. There are also great websites, magazines, books, and presentations you can check out. Ask other entrepreneurs what they read. Add what you like to your list and leave the rest.
3) Overwhelmed? Don’t know where to start?
If you really need a few starting points, here’s a few sites, blogs and items I personally like best (note: This is somewhat Boston biased, because that’s where I live. Find things in your area to get a view of your local entrepreneurship scene):
Websites: TechCrunch, Venture Beat, Silicon Alley, Gizmodo, Xconomy
Blogs: OnStartups, Innovation Economy, Startup Lessons Learned
Magazines: Inc Magazine, Popular Science, Technology Review
The takeaway from this is not to copy me; instead, notice the diversity. There are newspapers, tech focused media, business sources and established entrepreneur blogs. The idea is to get as many perspectives as you can. Try to build a similar list based on your passions and location.
4) Study those you Admire
As you immerse yourself in all of this entrepreneurial content, you’ll start to find certain personalities and businesses keep coming up. Find the ones that resonate most with you and follow them more closely. If the founder of the company has a blog, read it. If they have a book, buy it. If they’re going to be speaking and you have a chance to see them live or on video, watch it. And if you are fortunate enough to have the chance to sit down with them, make the most of it. Focus on how they got where they are. Learn from their mistakes and try to understand what made them successful and emulate that.
Still in love with entrepreneurship after starting the learning process?
Now Available: Part II: Getting Out There
See Also: Part III: Building a Reputation, Network and Following & Part IV: Working on Your Idea
This is ongoing series to try to build a comprehensive, lasting guide for aspiring entrepreneurs. I would greatly appreciate any input in the comments below to make this the best it can be. Thanks!