- How to Build a Brand and Tell Your Startup’s Story - March 25, 2019
- Startup Toolkit: Essential Resources for Entrepreneurs - February 15, 2019
Starting a new company is rewarding, exciting and completely overwhelming. Every new business endeavor comes with a host of issues and responsibilities to fall upon your shoulders. So, if you’re an overwhelmed entrepreneur, where should you begin?
Take advantage of these essential resources that will help you launch a successful business.
Startup communities can be very powerful tools in your toolkit. For starters, you can find a physical meet-up in any city, or join one of the many virtual online startup communities.
Startup Grind is the largest independent startup community in the world, connecting more than 1,500,000 entrepreneurs in over 500 chapters. The community nurtures startup ecosystems in 125 countries through events, media and partnerships with organizations like Google for Startups.
There are also the application-only communities that offer a considerable amount of support and resources. The Young Entrepreneur Council, for example, offers marketing resources that include a free website, plenty of media opportunities for exposure, help with branding and invitations to special events and conferences. Some of the cool extra perks include affordable healthcare options, travel agency and coworking space discounts.
Online communities like StartupNation’s community forum provide a space for active group discussions among like-minded entrepreneurs sharing tips and valuable advice. Bonus: you can join this community remotely!
Often, these communities provide spaces where you can glean information, learn from peers, exchange tips and tricks, acquire new business skills, make connections and most importantly, support fellow entrepreneurs.
Incubators and accelerators
Startup incubators and accelerators play a significant role in the startup community. Sometimes these terms are mistakenly used interchangeably, but each has a specific purpose and there are clear differences between the two.
Incubators are geared toward startups and entrepreneurs just getting their feet wet. More often than not, the startup has little more than an idea; so the incubator helps develop a business model, provides training, assists with legal compliance, and helps implement business protocol and practices that all businesses need.
Due to the nature of this work, entry is fairly easy and contract durations are often open-ended. Incubators provide more collaborative environments and more networking opportunities; and some incubators even offer pre-seed investments.
Accelerators, on the other hand, help support early-stage, growth-driven companies through education, mentorship and capital. Because the primary focus is rapid growth and because there is more risk involved, entry is more limited and contract durations are generally much shorter.
A great example is GAN, a worldwide accelerator and the largest group of accelerators, partners and investors in over 120 cities on six continents. If you’re looking to stay within your area, there are also plenty of local accelerators – many of which are affiliated with colleges and universities.
Pitching your startup to a group of investors can earn you the kind of funding and exposure you need to grow your business.
At the same time, a pitch competition can be a shot in the dark. How exactly does your business measure up? It’s hard to know until you show up and see what your competition is doing. But one thing is for certain – you’ll be better for the experience. Even if you don’t bring home the big prize, you’re likely to leave with constructive feedback, better ideas, new connections and more opportunities.
Many non-profit organizations facilitate great workshops for entrepreneurs who are at the beginning stages of developing their startups, often covering a wide range of topics. From defining your business model to legal considerations, insurance and accounting, there’s a plethora of them to choose from. What could be better than learning directly from people who have walked in your shoes?
You’ll find that some workshops even go as far as to offer free templates that help with building a cash flow model, or business and marketing plans. Most of these organizations also offer free consultations that are designed to help entrepreneurs understand the various programs and services available to help them start or expand a business.
Of course, you can search for a workshop within your area, but there are also plenty of helpful videos and webinars for entrepreneurs online. BizLaunch and Incorporate are just two examples of networks that provide entrepreneurship-specific sessions that can be viewed in the comfort of your own home or workspace.
Want to form business relationships without the added pressure of pitching your startup to investors? Monthly networking events usually feature successful business owners, innovators, educators and investors who share stories about their challenges and triumphs.
When choosing your next event, you have a number of options. If you want something industry-specific, attend a niche networking event in your area. If you just want to meet and discuss with other up-and-coming entrepreneurs in general, you should look into attending a roundtable event.
Freelancers and consultants
As an entrepreneur, you want to do it all, but eventually you’ll need some help. One person can’t possibly cover every task, but then there’s the issue of hiring. So, how do you minimize these expenses?
By hiring freelancers and consultants, you can avoid paying hefty salaries and wages until your business is able to take on full-time employees. Simply hire on an as-needed basis, using popular freelancing platforms such as Upwork, Freelancer and Guru to find the right fit for your startup’s needs.
Coworking out of shared spaces like WeWork can be ideal working arrangements for a few reasons.
First, coworking spaces are extremely cost-effective. Cash flow can be an issue early on for many entrepreneurs, so sharing space with other small businesses and startups is a good way to reduce overhead costs. Plus, you get access to premium amenities, services and perks along with your guaranteed space at no extra cost.
Second, coworking spaces provide a great alternative to working from home. For many, there is a direct correlation between environment and productivity. If you’re someone who struggles to work from home due to constant distractions and the familiarity of it, a co-working environment might be what you need to maximize your productivity. Whether you choose a flexible hot desk in an open space or a permanent dedicated desk in a shared office, you will always have a guaranteed spot to plug in and get to work.
Finally, coworking spaces foster a creative, collaborative environment. Most of the time, you’re sharing space with other aspiring entrepreneurs, making it easier to form connections and stay inspired.
Launching your startup can be an intimidating venture, particularly if entrepreneurship is unknown territory for you. Just know that you don’t have to do everything alone. Leveraging a few of the resources above to keep in your startup toolkit will help you develop a strong support system as you build your business.