If I have learned something from my initial days as a startup owner and entrepreneur, it is this: the first few months are the most challenging days ever! Whether you make it or break it, these first few months will test your mettle like nothing else. Yet, these days will be the most enjoyable and you will look at them with wistfulness, irrespective of whether your business takes off or goes bust.
If I was to share my experience of those days, the first tip I would give is that you need your youthful exuberance and a bit of naiveté to succeed. Veterans of the industry or the professional circle you exist in may tell you words of advice and wisdom. Let their experience be a guide, but never a template for you to follow. If that happens, you will seldom succeed in cutting through their shadow to break open new ground.
By all means, work on a steady cash flow before you think of pushing through the months. It all depends on your seed capital. If you have deep pockets, you can afford to take things easy before the revenue starts to roll in. But if you work on a shoe-string budget, like I did, you have to prioritize and build up a business model that is self-sustaining. The projects may not be the ones you dreamt of, but you have to pay the bills. You can always start off larger ventures when the cash flow is steady.
Work on your product. Then work harder on the presentation. Customers are seduced into buying products. Thanks to the incessant noise all around, they rarely make an informed choice because there is so much of information! They can block out all that clutter if your product is packaged and presented like an object of desire. Spend more time in packaging and presenting than you did in actually conceptualizing or creating it! The first few months are all about attracting attention. The favorable reviews and word of mouth publicity is for the later stages.
Close on the heels of this point, I would like to add: don’t overspend on advertising. You may feel that you are not doing enough to promote and market. You may feel that spending some extra bucks will achieve that and you may be tempted to go overboard in advertisement spending. Resist this temptation. You are still unsure about the response of the market to your product. You don’t even know if it will work at all! Ad spending will cut into your budget way before your cash flow is steady and self-sustaining.
I’m not going into the branding part because you know all there is to know about it! Making the brand unique and determining the USP, etc are all part of any post on entrepreneurship. What I would rather ask you to focus on is to play your cards well, how strong or weak they may be. You can also ask our entrepreneurship team at 7boats to figure out your way in those first few months.