Entrepreneur Diaries: strategise before you mobilise
Co-founder of bayzat.com writes about the misconceptions of becoming an entrepreneur.
August 4, 2013 3:37 by kippreport
By Talal Bayaa, co-founder of Bayzat.com
There was a time I used to believe that establishing a startup was a three-step process:
(1) Come up with an exciting business idea.
(2) Quit your job.
(3) Become an entrepreneur overnight.
Little did I know that it would take me two years to complete the first two phases. While we all hope our startups have a long road ahead, the journey to becoming an entrepreneur and actually “starting a startup” is a difficult process.
When I first began conceptualising bayzat.com, I wanted to cast away my old career for the new, adventurous and glamorous life of an entrepreneur – sort of like Cinderella, now that I think about it. However, I quickly overcame this urge as I began to realise that becoming an entrepreneur is a transitional process rather than a transformation.
Being honest with yourself and asking the right questions is critical when planning a roadmap to entrepreneurism. For example, if you quit your job tomorrow to start working on an idea, how would you spend your time on a daily basis? Can you honestly tell yourself there is enough work to take up eight hours of your day?
I spent the first few months doing research, reading books, speaking to industry contacts and looking for the right partners. Of course, this required working nights and weekends as I was still an employee, but I was practical and realised I could still contribute the required effort while maintaining a full-time job.
Believe me, there is a lot of downtime in the first few months when you are trying to better define the scope of what must be accomplished.
During two years of leading a “double-life”, the website was launched, employees were hired, content was aggregated, a pilot program was launched with banks, partnerships were formed and so much more. This ensured that once I did join my startup full-time, all the elements were in place to allow me to spend my time efficiently and help grow the company quickly.
The biggest advantage of being patient was that I was able to maintain my monthly salary during these two years, which I used to fund bayzat.com. There are countless entrepreneurs who established successful companies but had little to show for it because they didn’t actually own much of the company in the end.
In general, the earlier you raise money, the more equity you will have to give up. While not everyone has the option, put in the extra time after regular work hours, and carry your startup as far as you can by yourself or with your co-founders, and only then approach investors.
I am not sure if there is such a thing as overnight success, or an overnight entrepreneur. If there is, the probability of achieving it is extremely low. The odds are stacked against any startup in the early stages, and dedicating your energy, time and money to it means you owe it to yourself to maximize the probability of success. Make a sustained effort to learn from others’ mistakes and you will constantly be surprised of how much there is to learn.
Establishing and working in a startup is genuinely fun and exciting, but as with most things in life, getting there takes preparation.
*Kippreport asks new entrepreneurs to write about their experiences with launching, managing and growing their start-up companies in the region. This column will be the start of many to come in a series of ‘the entrepreneur diaries’. We invite you, as fresh entrepreneurs, to share your experiences with us and our readers. If you’d like to spread your wisdom, or simply tell us about your worst failures, contact us [email protected]