5 Ways to Become an Entrepreneur in 2014 Jeran Fraser January 2, 2014 Business 2014 The Year of the Entrepreneur – 5 Steps you can Take to Achieve your Dream You’re probably sick of hearing the word start-up and it’s no surprise as it has become the sort of word most of us relate to winning the lottery. Fortunately there’s ways to a means when it comes to putting together an idea and we’ve decided to put together a very helpful list of “to do’s” to help you not only formulate ideas, but launch them. 1. Research your idea: The number one thing you should do before coming up with your new business idea is to validate it. Talk to those close to you, do some research and market analysis to see if there’s a real need. There are plenty of great ideas that have a limited amount of users, therefore it’s important to know whether or not your idea is scalable. Spend some time studying and researching the concept. It’s likely that your successful idea has already been attempted, but that’s not always the case and even so, there’s a chance you can make it better. The research starts with a simple web search, but make sure you are searching online as a customer. People frequently bring me ideas on apps, software and products and in five minutes I can show them 2-3 people that are currently working on the same idea. First to market is always key when it comes to a niche, but don’t be discouraged by the fact that others are working on the same thing, just keep a mental note and a close eye on a potential competitor. 2. Know your Barriers to Entry: It’s fair to say that the easiest ideas start with someone close to you that can become a client. If you’re working a desk job, creatively look for ways to help improve the company you are working with. This may simply be a courier service that’s doing a terrible job, a printing company that can’t seem to get it right or an idea that helps your current company become more efficient in their day-to-day operations. Every idea has a barrier to entry and it’s important to know them as you are advancing your idea, so that you’re prepared, i.e. production time, cash flow needs, etc. These are things that a lot of creative minds tend to forget when formulating ideas or starting a business. 3. Take a Risk: If you’re like most people you’re risk averse when it comes to a career change. You’d rather be complacent and know your check is coming every two weeks, than to step out and try something new. Risk is a key component to success and you won’t find one successful entrepreneur or business owner that hasn’t taken a risk. Keep in mind that the aging process can become a detriment when it comes to taking risks. The longer you wait to step out as an entrepreneur the more difficult it may become. As we get older we tend to add priorities, which includes a spouse and/or children. And we all know that taking big risks when we have other mouths to feed makes it a little more difficult. Find ways to mitigate risks by trial and error and small steps. If you want to take big risks, be prepared for the outcome, but know that risk is a part of the start-up process. 4. Don’t Underestimate the Value of Relationships: If you have connections, don’t be afraid to leverage them. Never underestimate the power of solving problems within your network. Financial survival is crucial for everyone, so don’t feel ashamed to ask a friend or colleague if you can help them put a deal together. In the age of social media we have a digital network that allows us to search and connect with people we trust and these relationships can end up being a great way for you to potentially create start up ideas. You may have a gift or talent in a particular field you never knew you had, so reaching out to your network is a great step in the entrepreneurial process. Relationships are extremely important in every aspect, since people do business with people they trust, never exploit your friendships for business, but rather look for opportunities that create mutually beneficial relationships. And if you’re involved in putting a deal together with two people within your network, find a way to make a commission within that deal. Some deals may not allow that, but in same cases you can put a contract together for a finder’s fee. 5. Finance your Ideas So you’ve created an amazing idea and need funding, now what? Well good news for you is that San Diego is a great place for collaboration. San Diego is one of the most interconnected cities in the nation and although it’s a big town, most of us that have been here for more than a few years know that we’re all just a degree away from someone that can help us advance an idea. There are different types of web platforms that will allow you to raise capital for your idea. From Circle Up to Kickstarter, both being quite different in their approach, but with one goal, which is to help the entrepreneur raise the capital needed to advance their ideas. San Diego offers many additional programs from Connect.org to SDSI (San Diego Sport Innovators) to Comm Nexus. These are all non-profit organizations geared to help you take an idea to the next level through mentorship and collaboration. I am honored to be a mentor with SDSI, which is a consumer based mentoring program for sports/actions sports brands and ideas. If you’re an entrepreneur or want to be one, the information is out there, so don’t hesitate to inquire within some of these organizations and remember a little risk can turn into a great reward.