Entrepreneurs, Here’s the Pre-Launch Reality Check You Need

Things I wish I knew before starting my business.

Entrepreneurs, Here’s the Pre-Launch Reality Check You Need
Image of the author speaking at a networking event in Hyderabad.

Things I wish I knew before starting my business.

5 years ago, I was all set to become an Assistant Professor at one of India’s best engineering colleges. 

That had been the only dream my parents taught me to dream, and I couldn’t have been more excited. 

If you told me that by 2024, I’d quit it all and run my own content marketing business, I’d have laughed at your face.

Business and me? No way! I’m meant to do a government job, have peace and predictability, and live my life with the comfort of a stable salary every month.

Fast forward five years, and my business has a revenue of multiple seven figures every year. I have a GST certificate, an Import-Export Code, a trade license, and all the fancy terms I hadn’t even heard of in 2019.

If I had to go back in time and give the younger version of myself a few words of advice, I’’d tell her these 5 things I wish I knew before I started my business.

1. You can’t do it all alone

Of course you can. 

But figuring out government procedures of registering a business, filing tax returns, buying fixed assets for your company, etc. can take a huge toll on your time and mental health.

The solution?

Hire a professional.

I’ve lost count of the number of times I called my Accountant in the early stages of setting up my business. He guided me through the processes, and made the whole journey of being a business owner easy.

This didn’t come for cheap. But it saved me the hours of effort I might otherwise have had to put in reading through hundreds of pages of government procedure and filling forms.

There are some expenses in your entrepreneurial journey, while the rest are investments. Hiring an accountant was definitely one of the best investments I made in my early days as a business owner.

2. Embracing uncertainty is the key

In the 2.5 years since I started my own business, I’ve had months where my net revenue was more than $10k, while in my bad months, I barely made $1.5k.

These wide fluctuations in revenue can take a severe toll on your mental health, especially if you’re used to the comfort of a 9-to-5 salary. Learning to deal with them without losing my peace is one of the biggest lessons I had to learn in my entrepreneurial journey.

Here are some steps I take to make sure income fluctuations don’t affect my mental health:

  1. Save as much as I can on best months, so I can build a corpus to push me through lean periods.
  2. Understand that money is an energy. It ebbs and flows. If I spend more, I can also earn more.
  3. Use my savings to live my best life even in bad months. This way, I won’t be demoralized by the lack of a steady income. As an entrepreneur, my biggest asset is my mindset, and protecting it with money is the least I can do.
  4. Not obsess over savings during lean periods. Whenever my inner voice tries to get me anxious that I’m not saving enough, I remind myself of what Chandler Bing said in FRIENDS, “ I’m 29, I mean who needs a savings account?” 

3. Know what defines your net worth

I know this might be the biggest cliche on the internet, but one of the most valuable lessons I’ve learned from my entrepreneurial journey is this:

Your network = Your net worth

My networking skills have saved me multiple times, in the form of referrals, word-of-mouth recommendations, new business opportunities, event invites, and more.

Here are some ways I actively put myself out there so I can network with like-minded, high net-worth individuals:

  1. I attend a lot of entrepreneur meet-and-greet events in my city. It helps that I live in Hyderabad, which is India’s up-and-coming startup hub.
  2. I use LinkedIn to post, engage, and connect with potential leads. The 24k followers on my profile and my posting cadence helps in establishing credibility.
  3. When I part ways with a client, I never burn bridges. Polite messages go a long way in ensuring your connection can remain alive beyond the timeline of your gig.
  4. I actively reach out to all my relevant connections whenever I’m looking for a new gig.

4. Building in public is your rainy day plan

I know a lot of entrepreneurs who believe building in stealth mode is their way of making it “big” one day. They feel that they’ll develop the perfect product in the secrecy of their offices, and when they launch, the world will change.

Sadly, things don’t work that way.

The worth of your product is defined by how much your end user loves it. And the only way to get user feedback during the building process is to build in public.

There are many ways to go about it, but the basic principles are the same:

  • Launch an MVP (minimum viable product), even when it’s not “perfect”
  • Get feedback directly from people belonging to your target audience
  • Iterate and ship the suggested changes
  • Repeat until you capture your desired market segment.

It’s really that simple, but many entrepreneurs are tied to their ego. They feel their product is super special, and it should only be launched when it’s “ready.”

The truth is, a product is only ready when it can serve its end users. And the quickest way to know what your end users want is by letting them use it, and then incorporate all positive feedback you get.

5. Your personal brand can be a game changer

There’s a quote I read somewhere that has defined the nuances of my entrepreneurial journey: 

“People buy from people, not from businesses.”

This might not be true if you run a mega corporation like Google, but for small to mid-level businesses, your identity as a business owner shapes a lot of the buying decisions your end user makes.

If you project a relatable and likeable persona online, half the battle is already won. 

Luckily, we live in the digital era, where platforms like LinkedIn, YouTube, Facebook, etc make it super easy to build a brand and set yourself apart from the competition.

A great example of this is Carl Pei, the CEO of tech company, Nothing. Pei has an active YouTube channel with 635k+ followers. And the most interesting part? He’s not afraid to get his hands dirty and appear in every video the company makes. His tech review videos are infused with his humor and personality, making him come across as someone everyone would love to be friends with.

I’ve closely studied the GTM strategy of multiple startups, and Nothing’s CEO’s willingness to appear in front of the pubic and show his authentic self to his followers is something unique and special. 

No wonder Nothing phones are now considered to be at par with old players like OnePlus and Apple, even though the company itself is relatively new.

Lessons from my entrepreneurial journey: Final words

Entrepreneurship is not for everyone, and it’s definitely not an “easy” alternative to your 9-to-5. It’s something that demands massive amounts of dedication and patience, and only those willing to walk through the hardships can reap the benefits that eventually come.

Summarizing, here are the five key insights I wish I knew before I started my entrepreneurial journey:

  1. Hiring a professional accountant can save you time and effort at the start of your business-building days.
  2. Every month isn’t going to be the same, in terms of net revenue and finances. Be willing to save during your best months, and use the savings in lean periods to keep your morale high.
  3. Network with like-minded high net-worth individuals to create better opportunities for yourself.
  4. Build in public to gather user feedback and iterate on it.
  5. Don’t be afraid to show up online. People buy from people, not from companies.
“One of the greatest skills of leadership is being unflappable. Anytime you do anything in the world; there’s going to be criticism.” -Arianna Huffington, Co-founder of Huffington Post Media Group

Want to know how you can leverage LinkedIn to build your business? Check out my flagship product: Build A Business on LinkedIn: The Ultimate Guide

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