It’s a well known verse that the best advice comes from people who are where you are going.
With that in mind, it’s easy to understand why we asked Shagi Defoe to debunk the myths around entrepreneurism and share some tips with us on getting from idea to launch.
If you didn’t get a chance to read our feature on Shagi Defoe check it out.
Here are SHAGI’s tips for those who are ready to try their hand at being an entrepreneur.
Do you understand what an entrepreneur’s life is really like?
In present day, entrepreneurship is almost glamorized as the new ‘rock star’. People see entrepreneurship as a cool job with no 9:00 am to 5:00 pm commitment. The truth, Defoe sums up is that being an entrepreneur is hard and the hours you must put in each day are much longer than any desk job.
In addition, entrepreneurship requires some major sacrifices. Money is one, “Can you live broke?” – SHAGI. As a startup he says “…staff get paid but as a founder you don’t get paid. All the money goes back into the company. You invest years to build a brand to bring it to a point where you can pay yourself, sell it or merge.”
SHAGI furthers, “it [entrepreneurship] affects your loved ones the most. It’s very demanding of the people who depend on you. They have to share you with a business that demands a lot of your time and if you’re not diligent your health can suffer as well because you don’t always have time to eat right and exercise.”
While many people dream about being their own boss, it can present its own challenges. “To be disciplined without a boss is very hard. You have freedom to create but it must be with the realm of what you’re doing. You must then dictate your day and the day of your employees” – SHAGI.
But if you’re ready for the challenge then go for it.
Work your idea out then Test it …
Shagi believes when you’ve got an idea you need to break it down first. You should know why you are creating the product. You should ask yourself, is there a need for that product? You should also write down a vision for the business, what are your goals? Are you trying to create something because you think entrepreneurship is cool or is it that the idea means something to you and you feel it will resonate with other people and grow into something?
“If you have an idea and you think you can do something with it, then do whatever you have to do to shut down the walls of confinement, boundaries and allow your mind to think big. Think of the brand further, in ways that your boundaries would not allow. Think about the product or service in 5 years. Is it relevant in 5 years? If not, how do you keep it to be relevant within those 5 years? If it can’t be, skip it. There is no point in doing anything that doesn’t last 5 years. An idea needs time to get started and build traction and make somewhat of an impact. After 5 years you might consider acquisition, merger, partnership, sale, scaling. If you can’t do these things in 5 years then you need to ask yourself why are you doing it? Is it a hobby or are you trying to create something bigger?” – SHAGI.
While developing a business plan Defoe also encourages you to talk to people about your idea; talk to people both within the related field and outside of the related field. “Find people who you trust their intelligence and ask them what they think of your idea. How can this [idea] help someone? What can this do? You will gain insight from different angles which can help you further your idea.” – SHAGI.
Once you’re clear about the idea, it’s time to test your market. “The only way to know if a product is worth it is to make it; give it to someone; sell it to someone. See if they buy it; if they want it; if they care. If they don’t, that tells you something. You’re probably not on the right path.” – SHAGI.
How to secure some startup money.
Some ideas can be started with minimal or no funding. If you need real funding to get your idea off the ground Shagi suggests you do some research on why you think this product will actually make you money and prepare to convey that information to potential investors. Shagi also reminds us, whether the product is a success or not, your name is still on it and you will still owe your people, so keep the risk in mind.
If you’re going ahead though, Shagi suggests:
– Borrow from friends & family
– Look into small business loans
– Consider a part time job
Yeah, part time work is not always ideal but “…work on your stuff in the night and on the weekends. You may be going to work tired but its working on your passion right? Of course there will be a time when you have to grow; give up that job or not.” – SHAGI.
When asked what final advice he had for budding entrepreneurs, Shagi summarized, “Ask yourself why and dissect it into every facet. Think outside the box – growing a startup is a super fluid task. Go for it, just try. Even if it fails you’re going to learn so much about the business you’re trying to do; yourself and the world at large just by trying.”
Defoe’s Recommended Resources:
• Lean In by Sheryl Sandberg
• Good to Great by Jim Collins
• Good leaders eat last – Simon Sinek
• Any Youtube video by Simon Sinek
• Documentary: The founder
• Anything from Gary Vaynerchuk ‘Gary Vee’