It isn’t easy, otherwise everyone would have a go. You need to understand that the journey to success is not going to be smooth. There will be good times and bad, many things can be mitigated against, but something will always be around the corner that you didn’t think about.
Market fit, whatever the product or service you need to understand the market and the need. Too often start-ups have a great idea, but they have not thought through how that idea materialises into a commercial product or service that has a value.
Be wary of vultures, those that have seemingly seen it and done it, but just want to take your idea.
Raise money well with people that you know and trust. It is going to be a long road and investors that walk with you are worth a hundred times more that those who sit on your shoulder.
Use the help from the government. If in the UK that might be Innovate UK, SEIS, EIS funds or the DTI. These bodies and services are there to help you and it is in their interest to see you succeed.
Plan, plan for success but more importantly prepare for failure. A founder needs to know how long they can last without income and then double it as that is what it is going to take. The cash burn of a start-up is the single biggest worry until you get proper investment and income.
Raise money at the right time. Far too many founders raise or, attempt to raise money too early. This just means that you will be diluted too much too quickly. It is all about timing and the road to commercialization.
Concentrate on markets that you know and that are accessible. Have a micro and macro strategy for sales. But start with the micro, prove the concept and the return before reaching the dream.
Make the mistakes early and learn from them. You are going to get things wrong, and it isn’t about the mistakes, it is what you do next, how you do it better and the success that the mistakes bring.
Finally, make sure that whatever you do makes you happy, there is nothing more emotionally draining than not believing in yourself or your idea. You need to enjoy the journey and investors and customers will buy into that belief.