St. Patrick’s Day has luck on our minds.
It got us thinking about luck’s relationship to entrepreneurship. Some might say that successful entrepreneurs are just the ones who get lucky—they had the right product at the right time with the right market conditions.
While it’s true that starting a travel agency in January 2020 would have been terrible business luck, entrepreneurs who want to succeed need to be remarkably good at making their own luck. Entrepreneurship is too tricky, the market too fickle, for a business to triumph purely on random chance.
How do you make your own luck? There are several steps entrepreneurs can take to increase their chances of success and diminish the odds of failure. We identified five of these tactics to share with you.
1. Start small with an MVP.
Your business exists to solve your customer’s problem.
Once you identify that problem, ask yourself, “what is the fastest, cheapest way I can solve this problem?” Whatever the answer is, that’s your MVP—your minimum viable product.
Starting small with an MVP before you build out the expansive vision in your head is a great way to make your own luck. With an MVP, you can quickly get your customer’s feedback on your business at a lower cost to your business.
Pop-up restaurants are a great example of this. By renting out another restaurant’s kitchen for a night, entrepreneurs can bypass the monthly rent, utility, equipment, and commercial licensing costs that burden brick-and-mortar restaurants—while still putting food in front of their customers.
Because MVPs are cheap, they allow you to nimbly change your product or service, iterating based on real time customer feedback instead of your own blind assumptions and hypotheses.
There’s no better way to minimize your chances of getting it wrong and maximize your chances of success.
2. Use customer feedback to foolproof your marketing.
Many entrepreneurs waste precious time brainstorming slogans, website messaging, social media captions, and advertisement copy.
This is usually done through guesswork, and guesswork is inefficient. It leaves plenty of room for failure.
What if you asked your customers what exactly they love about your product or service, wrote those words down, and used that language on the front page of your website or Instagram bio?
Wouldn’t that attract other people who think like your customers—exactly the kind of people whose attention you want?
Don’t waste precious hours in front of your notepad wondering what words your customers want to see—just ask them!
3. Know your numbers.
Ever seen Shark Tank?
Those sharks aren’t lying—knowing your numbers is one of the best ways to make your own luck and avoid rookie mistakes.
Which numbers should you know?
You should know, at the very least, your total startup costs (how much it costs you to launch the business), your ongoing costs (how much it costs per month to keep the business open), and your break-even point (the number of units you need to sell each month to cover your costs).
Knowing these numbers—and how to interpret them—will allow you to exert more control over when your business becomes profitable, when you can hire additional employees, and what kind of salary you can afford to pay yourself.
You will make better decisions and be less subject to surprise if you invest time in knowing your numbers well.
4. Get expert help where it matters.
We covered this in more depth in our blog post last month, but you really shouldn’t fly solo on issues related to legal or accounting. Doing these yourself is, in fact, the straightest path to bad luck.
Fixing an early legal or accounting mistake is often more costly than avoiding one. Hiring an expert with years of education and training is one of the few places where spending a high dollar at the start is worth it.
By ensuring that you have the right legal and accounting systems in place, you set yourself up for peace of mind down the road and a tremendous absence of bad luck.
5. Don't do it alone.
Entrepreneurs who are plugged into their community’s support ecosystem are always going to have an advantage over lone wolves. Joining a local entrepreneur network is a great way to find mentors, secure better financing options, locate expert help, and grow your customer base!
We’ve found that sometimes entrepreneurs assume anti-collaborative attitudes out of fear that someone will steal their secrets or compete with them.
But places with thriving Main Streets and booming business scenes are communities characterized by teamwork, mutual generosity, and trust.
There are organizations in your community who want you to succeed, and want to get you plugged into the wider network of people starting businesses near you. Many of these organizations are members of the CO.STARTERS network—find one near you!