We’ve said it before and we’ll say it again: entrepreneurs are the winners of this recession. But if you’re thinking about going into business for yourself, there are a few things you should know first. We asked our fav former reality star and start-up queen Lo Bosworth for her advice on breaking out on your own…
1. Make sure you have enough money in the bank to live on for a year. When you’re raising money and starting a new business, chances are high that it will take far longer than you expect to get everything off the ground, not to mention to start turning a profit. Not taking home a paycheck for up to a year is both a motivator and a serious cause of stress, so make sure you have ample savings to cover rent, food, and travel expenses (and always build in a little extra for emergencies!).
2. Test your concept before going all in. Get some data. Seriously. Start with your friends and family. Invite them all over for a focus group session (yummy food and wine will provide good incentive!) and ask them targeted, open-ended questions about your product and how it works. This is a great way to detect glitches or marketing opportunities before you enter a high-stakes situation. If your new company has a digital presence, sign up for Google Analytics to keep an eye on traffic and search buzz.
3. Get out there. Introduce yourself to the start-up community in your town. These are easy to find via web forums and local small business conferences. It’s a great way to meet fellow entrepreneurs, potential advisors and investors. Not only can you compare valuable notes about your potential market, but you might make some like-minded, ambitious new friends along the way!
4. Don’t let your development team hold you hostage. Whoever is designing and building your company’s website should provide you with all log-in and account information for your product including but not limited to host server info, DNS records, source code, etc. Get this information at the start of the build and be in control of the log-in information at all times. This way, if your relationship with your development team ever comes to a close, you’re still in full control of your own product (and can change all passwords to keep it that way).
5. Don’t be afraid to talk about your idea. Nobody will steal it, I promise. The best way to start building hype is by hyping your own idea (duh) — after all, you know it better than anyone else. Build support for your idea starting by word-of-mouth, and you might be surprised when you start to meet with investors and they’ve already caught wind of your fabulous concept!
Lo Bosworth is an entrepreneur living in New York City. In addition to launching Revelry House, she is also an executive producer, author, UCLA graduate and alum of MTV’s The Hills.