Setting up a corner shop or a franchise are both examples of starting a business, but they are not startups. By definition, launching a business means launching a company, thanks to which its founder, or in general the entrepreneur, will obtain a profit, and therefore earn an income. The startup is, of course, a type business, but it has its own, unique characteristics that other businesses do not have. These are:
- A potential to make a strong impact.
- High levels of innovation.
- High levels of uncertainty.
If in some way a startup is not innovative, and doesn’t have the potential to make a strong impact on the global market, and therefore doesn’t have the ability to change the world, then it isn’t a startup. Anyone can launch a business from scratch, but not everyone can change the world, and this book offers a guide to doing just that, while reducing the margin of risk typically linked to startups, as well as high levels of uncertainty and earning-potential, which can only be achieved by letting go of the traditional business mindset of simply earning money. To launch a real startup, it is important to let go of the idea of being entrepreneurial and become, instead, an actual entrepreneur.
Throughout his years of experience, the author has had the opportunity to observe that there are two types of people: entrepreneurs and aspiring entrepreneurs. True entrepreneurs bring their business forward by avoiding the traps that aspiring entrepreneurs tend to fall into, and these are:
- prioritising the wrong things: wasting time and energy on tasks that aren’t important, and not focussing their attention where they should (in most cases, especially at the beginning, this would be gathering new customers, but in general it could mean solving the biggest problems that arise in any given moment);
- wasting time solving problems that have not yet arisen, because they worry that any problems which may arise cannot be solved quickly, so they want to try and stay ahead, but this is just a waste of time, resources, and precious energy. An example would be optimising a web page before it has any traffic, or setting up a perfect payment system before you have any customers;
- wasting time coming up with ideas and putting them into action (or even on choosing the company name), without first testing it on the market. One day is more than enough to think of your idea, seven are enough to launch it, and a month is all you need to test it;
- building a startup whose basic idea is not able to compete with others on the market, because it isn’t original (there are already others like it), and the launch and presentation style has already been used before. We need to remember that our competition is on a global scale, and that our audience will constantly compare us to other successful companies in our sector;
- wasting time on a business that has no margin for growth;
- working alone without a team: it is very unlikely that a single person is capable of covering all the roles in their own company. Moreover, working in a team is necessary when you are not able to set the right priorities by yourself;
- acting and making decisions based on supposition and theory, rather than real data (recorded market response), falling into the traps of false myths and common mistakes, which we will deal with in the next few pages.