By Michael Krupit
When starting a business, it’s no secret there are going to be risks involved and difficult decisions to make. It may take a while to find a steady stream of revenue. One mistake could end up costing you lots of time and money. You’re aware of the relatively high possibility that your company could eventually fail. But most entrepreneurs know this and are prepared to take challenges head-on with grit and determination.
At the Philly Bootstrappers Breakfast, we gain confidence in knowing that others are facing similar challenges as we grow our businesses. This group meets once a month and offers a combination of brainstorming, education, peer accountability and support in a mastermind-style setting to sharpen your business and personal skills.
In February, we helped each other with three common challenges entrepreneurs face:
1. How to raise brand awareness and tips on how to get your message out there
You’ve published blog posts, sent weekly newsletters, and even jumped on the podcast train, but what other steps can you take to grow your audience? For starters, it’s easy to hide behind email and content, but in order to start selling your product or service, you have to actually get out and sell! Tap into your city’s resources to find meetups and networking events to attend. Establish yourself as an authority by speaking at events in your niche. Partner with industry influencers and teach a series of seminars. Join local business groups (like the Bootstrappers Breakfast!) to bounce ideas off of like-minded individuals, share business contacts and referrals, and identify opportunities. Of course, investing time in content and email marketing is important, but getting out in the community can lead to an array of opportunities like joint ventures, profitable partnerships, and more customers.
2. Testing your product’s value (before you start building!)
Developing a business idea is typically the first challenge faced by any entrepreneur. You likely already have a vision for what challenges your product or service is seeking to solve, but how do you transform that vision into profitable business opportunities, i.e. how do you make sure your product has value? Do your research. Before spending a penny on development, figure out if the problem is even worth trying to solve. Start by interviewing 10-15 potential customers to make sure you understand everything there is to know about the problem and tweak (or even pivot!) your business plan accordingly. Ask them questions like, “What are you doing to solve that problem today?” “What’s not working with your current solution?” “How much money will you save by solving that problem?” By not understanding the problem thoroughly, many products miss the mark.
3. Finding a lawyer that works for your business and other free legal services to take advantage of
Is it worth investing the time to build relationships with a lawyer so they know you and your business as you grow? That’s a common question faced by many entrepreneurs and small business owners. There are dozens of law firms and independent lawyers with startup and entrepreneurial experience if that’s the route you decide to take. Just make sure you do your due diligence in finding the right one (oftentimes they do free consultations…interview them!). But if you’re not quite ready to make the investment, there are plenty of low-cost and even free legal services to take advantage of. Clerky makes it easy for startups to get legal paperwork done. Cooley Go recommends and generates important legal paperwork from their online library of contracts, letters, and documents. StartupLawyer is a blog that focuses on common startup legal matter. Or, consider using legal services from local universities (if you’re Philly-based, check out Drexel Entrepreneurial legal services).
These are just a few of the challenges discussed over eggs and bacon at the February Bootstrappers Mastermind Breakfast. (You know Mike is vegan, so there’s also oatmeal and fruit, too!) Not only do we have a Bootstrappers Breakfast Philadelphia presence, we also started chapters in Baltimore and Atlanta. Click here to find additional information, like chapters and upcoming meetups across the country. Register for the March 27th Philly meetup here.