July 14, 2024


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In the fast-paced world of entrepreneurship, turning ideas into action is often the hardest part. Many aspiring entrepreneurs find their business ideas stuck in endless dinner table conversations or coffee break chats, never moving beyond their initial idea. Taking the leap from discussing a business to building one can be daunting, full of uncertainties and potential setbacks.

In fact, business applications don’t always result in business formations. Of the 20.4 million business applications filed between 2020 and 2023, only about 1.9 million businesses were actually formed, meaning less than 10% of applications come to fruition. This highlights the significant gap between intention and execution. To bridge this gap and help you turn your business idea from small talk into a tangible reality, here are five steps to guide you.

Related: Have a Business Idea? Here’s How To Put It into Action.

1. Remember what spurred you to act

My journey into entrepreneurship started with a jolt. After being unfairly let go from a job where I’d given my all, I felt a mix of anger and determination. I’d cut their costs in half and boosted their revenue, yet there I was, out the door. It was a wake-up call — I never wanted to feel that powerless again. Not long after, I received multiple job offers, one from a Fortune 100 company and another from a hot Silicon Valley startup. I took both, working crazy hours and traveling, but I soon realized this wasn’t sustainable. That’s when I decided to hire help and fully commit to my own software development business. The key takeaway? Embrace what drives you. Use those intense experiences — whether it’s feeling wronged or just wanting more control over your life — as the fuel to move past doubt and hesitation. Turn that passion into productive action.

2. Carve out the time

Many aspiring entrepreneurs wait for the perfect moment to start their business, but the truth is, there’s no perfect time. Successful entrepreneurs often begin their journeys later in life, such as Vera Wang at age 40 and Ray Kroc at 52, proving that it’s never too late to start. The key is to prioritize your venture and carve out dedicated time to work on it. Whether it’s early mornings, late evenings or weekends, find a consistent slot in your schedule to focus on your business. Treat this time as sacred and non-negotiable. By making your startup a priority and consistently dedicating time to it, you’ll steadily make progress and bring your vision to life.

3. Start small and scale up

Many aspiring entrepreneurs make the mistake of starting too big, which can be overwhelming. Instead, focus on the smallest viable version of your idea that solves a problem. Begin with a simple MVP (Minimum Viable Product) and test its traction before thinking about scaling up. Dedicate a consistent amount of time each week to your startup, even if it’s just a few hours. Simplifying tasks and achieving small wins will build your confidence and keep you moving forward.

I take this approach when raising capital, which can be daunting, especially with the looming risk of rejection. I tackled this reluctance by taking small steps — reviewing previous investment materials, making initial edits and practicing pitches with trusted friends. This process gradually built my confidence and motivation, allowing me to refine my pitch and business plan effectively. Breaking the task into smaller steps helps you build momentum and overcome those initial doubts.

Related: Go Small or Go Home: Why Fast Growth Isn’t the Best Solution for Your Startup

4. Get your first user quickly

Getting your first user or customer as soon as possible is crucial. Early feedback is invaluable for refining your product and ensuring you’re on the right track. Start by developing your MVP, even if it requires external funding. If you don’t have the funds to hire developers or build out the initial version, consider taking a small loan or seeking investment from friends and family.

The goal is to launch a “bare bones” but functional product to gather real-world feedback. This early input will help you make necessary adjustments and improve your offering before a larger rollout. Plus, having real users validates your idea and can make it easier to secure further investment. Take Airbnb, for example. The founders launched a basic version of their website during a conference in San Francisco to test their idea. This early feedback was critical in shaping the platform into the global giant it is today.

5. Find mentors and network effectively

Finding mentors and networking with other entrepreneurs can be game-changers for your business. Mentors provide invaluable advice and help keep you on track, drawing from their own experiences and expertise. Networking with fellow entrepreneurs offers motivation, insights and potential collaborations. However, focus on building informal connections over attending formal networking events. Informal settings tend to foster more genuine interactions and meaningful relationships. Discover where successful entrepreneurs gather — whether it’s local bars, industry meetups, or casual events — and make an effort to connect organically.

These authentic relationships can provide support, inspiration and practical guidance as you navigate your entrepreneurial journey. According to the UPS Store, 70% of small businesses that receive mentoring survive for more than five years, which is double the survival rate of businesses that do not receive mentoring.

Related: 4 Benefits of Finding a Mentor

Take inspiration from successful entrepreneurs like Ryan Estis, who pushed through self-doubt to build his business. Estis’s journey shows how crucial resilience and learning from mistakes are. As one of his mentors told him, “You’re going to make mistakes. It’s the ability to overcome those mistakes that’s the litmus test of a good entrepreneur.” By embracing these steps and tackling the journey with determination and resilience, you can move past the small talk and start building the business you’ve always dreamed of.



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