Female founders and C-level executives are dominating the market right now. There are more women in top-level management than ever before. New and existing startups founded by women are also tackling market challenges left and right, seizing a lot of opportunities along the way.
There is no better time to start a new business than right now. Market opportunities are plentiful and ready to be seized. Resources needed to start a new business are in abundance. More importantly, getting started with your own company is easier than ever.
Before you go ahead and join forces with colleagues to start a new business, however, there are a few preparations to be made first. You have to be ready for the challenges ahead, and these five things are exactly what you need to be the next startup success story.
A Mature Product Idea
The process of developing a simple idea into a product that customers can actually use is a long one. Many founders started their businesses with a simple idea in mind, only to find that transforming that idea into tangible products and services is not as easy as it seems.
Rather than developing a raw idea after starting the new business, it is actually better to take your idea to a certain point before entering the business landscape. At the very least, you want your idea to be mature enough as a business proposition.
The best product ideas are ones that solve real, existing problems faced by potential customers. When you have a solution to a problem everyone faces, you don't have to spend as many resources trying to create a market for your new business.
While developing the idea, you can also start working on your business plan. How will the product enter the market? What are the resources you need to turn that plan into a reality? What's the market size for your product or service?
The more of these details you collect and process, the more prepared you'll be as a startup founder. You know exactly what to expect from the market when you do start the new business, making the rest of the process easier to manage.
Good Project Management
Many founders see leadership as an essential skill. It is, but it is not the only fundamental skill that you absolutely need to succeed. A more fundamental skill is project management. Think of starting a business as managing multiple projects. There are tasks that need to be completed before you can take the business off the ground, and good project management is the key to completing those tasks.
The Kanban system is a methodology that you can count on if you are new to project management. It is simple enough to use and flexible enough to adapt to different organizations and business models. You can even make an adjustment to the Kanban board based on what you actually need.
Mastering the basics of the Kanban system will also make you a better project manager. What is cycle time? How you can keep the lead time of each task at a minimum? How do you spot bottlenecks based on the Kanban cards? These questions become easier to answer now that your tasks – the projects you handle – are visualized on the board. Kanbanize is a great example of a Kanban board. Visit their site to learn more and read up on the Kanban way of managing projects.
A Strong Team
As a founder, you need to be prepared to do most of the heavy lifting. After all, this is your business, and its future is tied – in large part – to your future. You cannot expect your business to be successful from the beginning, at least not when you are not willing to invest time, money, and energy into it.
However, being a startup founder doesn't mean doing everything yourself. In fact, it doesn't have to be that way at all. You still have the ability to create a strong team, filled with capable people whose skills can help support the business.
If you are not sure about the business side of, well, your business, you can add a team member whose focus is in this field. The same is true with other tasks that you need to tackle, including manufacturing your products and marketing them to a wider audience.
Developing a strong team is perhaps the biggest challenge all founders must face. It is never easy to find likeminded people that understand your vision. Never settle for less, especially when you have big dreams for the new business.
Sufficient Financial Support
The last thing to prepare is the set of resources required to start the business. I'm talking about having enough funds to get the ball rolling, at least until the business begins generating revenue from selling products and services. Sufficient financial support, however, doesn't mean a large starting capital.
Most of the big corporations we know today were founded in a garage somewhere, with little to no capital and plenty of passion. However, those businesses face financial challenges along the way, and their founders know exactly how to face those challenges like a champ.
When you suddenly receive a big order for your product, for instance, you should know how to best cover the manufacturing and distribution costs to fulfill that order. You may have to rely on loans from friends or financial institutions.
The important thing here is knowing what to do. You can self-fund the new business at the beginning. You can keep the business self-funded in the long run too. Nevertheless, you always know what to do when you run into financial roadblocks.
Okay, there is one more thing to get right when you are starting a new business: a strong passion for the business venture. As mentioned repeatedly before, there are a lot of challenges to overcome when starting a new business. Those challenges can be overwhelming, and the only way you can stay motivated is by loving – and I do mean truly loving – what you do.
Passion is the last piece of the puzzle. Combined with the other four components covered in this article, you are ready to be the next big success story in the startup landscape.
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How can we help overcome the national health crisis and allow people access to nutritious food on a regular basis?
It's a question I've been driven to answer since 2009, catalysed by one of the scariest scenarios a daughter can imagine - the health crisis of a parent.
Determined to help my father overhaul his lifestyle and overcome the sudden obstacles he faced, I began prepping healthy, homemade meals. When friends and family members noticed the remarkable recovery he made, they became interested in the plans too.
This inevitably led to the birth of Fresh n' Lean, my organic meal delivery service. What started as a solo 19 year old student cooking meals out of a one bedroom apartment in Redondo Beach, CA, has since evolved into a 9-figure brand, with 100+ amazing employees operating out of a state of the art facility.
I'm often asked why Fresh n' Lean has continued to grow while other food delivery services struggle. I believe it comes down to many interacting variables that I wish to share with you today, with the hope that they might someday help you as you embark in your entrepreneurial journey too.
Know Your Values: Fresh, Convenient + Delicious
Whenever you pursue something in life, whether it's a scary fitness goal or starting your own company, it's important to know your values, and to stay true to them. This is something I was taught from a young age, and was super aware of with Fresh n' Lean.
Our mission has always been to achieve three things: to make food that's healthy, accessible and delicious. It's about getting that balance between each component. If any one of them is missing, the formula doesn't work.
Sure, it would be easy to cut corners with the quality of our ingredients to save money, but that's not the point! I have a strong desire to impact people's lives in a positive way - a 'reason why' that directly ties into the work we do. I'm also surrounded by a tribe of inspiring individuals who believe in the vision, which helps massively.
The collective understanding of our value system helps us stay true to the mission and to be completely transparent with how we operate the business. This creates trust and brand loyalty amongst our customers - a key component for future growth.
Taking Risks: Bootstrapping to Nine-Figures
Anyone who has started their own venture can attest that the early days are a little shaky. There are always going to be problems that pop up (usually at the most inconvenient times), and key decisions that need to be made.
One of the latter that I was faced with at the very beginning was whether or not to turn to investors for capital, or to bootstrap Fresh n' Lean. I went with the second option and committed my life savings to self-fund my venture. Looking back, it was a bold move. I put it all on the line to make my dream a reality, and thankfully the risk paid off.
Sure, initially it meant that we had certain restrictions when it came to funding, but I like to think those restrictions lead to innovation. Because we had limited options, we were forced to be creative and to come up with novel solutions to challenging problems.
It has also meant we've had a much easier time when it comes to choosing the direction of our business. Because we don't have to answer to a board of investors, we're able to explore various avenues with a degree of freedom - like our recent move from online to in-store.
Be Creative: Leaping From Online to In-Store
The latest evolution of Fresh n' Lean has been a dive into the brick and mortar sector, with the recent opening of our first On The Go store in Santa Monica.
Though many people believe brick and mortar is dying, we still feel that there are various opportunities to pursue. Grab-and-go healthy food near business centers is still something that's lacking in many areas. We're also in the process of partnering with Hak's Foods to bring ready-to-eat meals into grocery stores such as Whole Foods, Gelson's, and Costco.
As well as being a viable business venture in itself, having food in stores also gives people a chance to try our product before signing up for an online subscription. We're always trying to think outside the box when it comes to business growth, and this is just another example.
Sue, we could have listened to the naysayers, played it safe and stuck to what we know. But if we always take the comfortable route, how will we ever know what we're truly capable of?
If I could sum up the main things I've learned over the past ten years, it would go something like this: the key is to never stop learning, growing or innovating. Know your mission, keep moving forward, and always be ready to adapt.