The Thing With Ideas: On Startups and Making Them Work

So you have an idea. Beautiful. Ideas are cheap, though. The hustle is sold separately. Running a startup can be frustrating, especially with all the infrastructural deficiencies we have to live with every day. Here are some quick tips to help out.

Ensure your startup is solving real (read: worthwhile) problems.

The society has a lot of problems. Not all need solving. Consistently ask yourself, what am I selling? You're either developing a product or a solution. The difference? One is a cool idea, the other makes money. Figure out what you're doing, and fast.

Have multiple backup plans.

When you're running a business, no excuse is ever good enough. If you want a constant internet connection, you probably need one ISP for WiFi, another for your mobile dongle, and a data plan on your phone. For power, there's the grid, and you still need a generator and an inverter. Your customers don't expect anything less, so you'll need to deliver.

Keep it simple.

If you can’t explain what your startup does to a 10 year old, you may need to go back to the drawing board. If your idea is too complex, people may not be able to figure out what it does, much less why they need it. Take a break, review, and redo.

Find somewhere cheap and cheerful to work from. 

You could work at home (distracting and not great for your professional image), or rent an office (we said cheap, right? Sorry). Another option is to work from a cafe or fast food place with internet, but who can work around so much food?! Or you could just sign up at a coworking space - it's a low-cost workspace that takes care of those backup plans we mentioned earlier, with uninterrupted power and fast internet a given. Coworking spaces also provide facilities like meeting rooms, printing, mail handling, reception services, and a bunch of networking opportunities. Cheap? Check. Cheerful? Check. Find one that suits you and sign up today.

Publicity is key.

Don't limit your customer base to friends and family alone. You’d be surprised how much people could help, if only they knew what you were doing. Get the word out. Talk about your startup on a blog or social media, enter a startup competition, attend networking events, or present at a Demo Day. The opportunities are limitless, just get yourself out there.

Embrace failure.

No one likes to fail, but it's always a possibility, and isn't always a bad thing. You fail, you learn, you do better next time. That's life, and that's entrepreneurship.

Good luck!