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5 (Unconventional) Must-Dos Before You Start a Business



You want to start an online business, but you still don’t know how to go about it.

You have this app or business idea. You have a friend (or friend of a friend) who’s in a startup, or who made a million dollars on it. You wanna make a positive impact. But you’ve never run a business before. You can’t code and you don’t know where to find developers.

And you probably heard that 90% of businesses fail and it’s not because of bad ideas or poor financial projections. Most companies fail due to human factors: team and customers.

And the good news is: there’s a way to do it before risking it all to one idea.

Here’s an Unconventional To Dos List for a Future Business Owner:

#1 Don’t Quit Your Job (Yet);

There’s a lot of inspirational bullshit out there telling you to “take the leap of faith”. And you know that, if you start a business, life will be crazy — which sound badass to a certain extent.

But how do you know you really want it?

No paycheck, lower income, desperate for more time to do all the stuff you gotta do. How do you know if you’re ever ready?

Before you go crazy on a startup, go crazy on your lifestyle:Switch your weekend long nights or trips for hackathons;Build something after work hours, work on weekends;Save as if you had less than ¼ of your salary;

This will give you the closest experience to a startup life while also getting you mentally and financially prepared to it.

#2 Join at least 3 Hackathons;

For those who do not know, hackathons are intensive events for people to build stuff over the weekend. It normally goes from late night Friday throughout a whole weekend, people gotta stay up late and stuff while building a product or fixing a bug (thus the name recalling a marathon).

It ain’t easy staying up late or not sleeping, but the results are rewarding when you see the product in the end, built in record time.

In a nutshell, a hackathon will:

Give you a sneak peek of the startup life: experience how it feels to build something under pressure, from scratch;Start your own “pipeline” to potential partners: you’ll share work, ideas, fun and some tough times with people who are crazy enough to do the same;Test your stamina and confirm if you’re the right person, at the right time, to start it up;

#3 Forget Ideas: Start Looking for Problems.

I know that doesn’t sound like the art of Zen, but building a great startup relies on the fact that a bunch of people in the world need some kind of solution and are ready to pay for it.

You better start from problems you are familiar with. Tips:

Choose only problems within a 3km radius: your own problem, a friend’s problem or even your current employer’s problems;Sell first. Build later; get someone to commit to pay before you even start: the best investors are always your first customers: equity-free!Prototype, test, repeat; once you have a good problem and a willing-to-pay-customer, prototype and test if users understand your product intentions before you continue building the product of your (and only yours) dreams.

#4 Be Lazy. Just Hack It.

Personal story: if I wasn’t focused on my business, I probably would have built an app which tells me when there’s a long line to the toilet before I get up to go there. Yes. I am that lazy. But I’d rather say I’m a great “personal-time-optimizer”.

I don’t know how to code, but I know this: lazy people make great hackers. Why? Hacking simply means finding creative, unconventional ways to get something done.

We act smarter — sometimes — when we’re lazy.

Must Dos:Stop working hard; start replicating stuff rather than reinventing the wheel.Ask yourself “how can I repeat it 1000 times?” for each relevant task you execute to run your business: try to automate it.Build to scale: energy saving matters as much as saving money.

#5 Date First. Partner Later.

A friend of mine built her business with a coder she met at her first hackathon and they eventually sold their business! Almost like Disney movies.

Startup fairy tales may happen, but you can’t count on it.

A good partnership is a mix of factors, but the bottom line is you should know your criteria and expose yourself to enough people before settling down with one true love.

Before partnering with someone, make sure toGreat minds think rather differently: work with people whose skills complement you;Align vision, obsessions, and values: make sure they’re on board for the same vision and similar road: if your values are aligned, the journey will be worthwhile.Remember the hackathons tip? Yes: attend 3, not only one. That’s how you expose yourself to enough people and try it out before commitment.

From defining what is an MVP (Minimum Viable Product) to your solution, to what is the best way to validate it before you build it to the end, it is important to have diverse minds brainstorming a product before getting it done.

In a Nutshell: One Hackathon Does It All

You should get the taste of it before you make any drastic decisions.

Joining intensive events such as hackathons can help you build not only a fun product that wins a competition but a long-lasting solution which evolves into amazing products which are competitive in the market, winning customers in the real world.

If you never try, you never know what would you have built — or the people you would meet and build it with. Get yourself a chair and get it done over a weekend!

Next up: Hacking Hackathons: Tips and Tools When Attending your First Hackathon

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