While in academia, it’s always worthwhile considering 10 Simple Rules for Starting a Company. Unfortunately, there’s a wealth of information out there to help you along, but the advice is never aimed specifically at computational biologists. It’s also probably not what you were thinking of when starting a company in the first place. So what should you look out for when choosing one of the many software companies offering business opportunities via the internet?
Be wary of hype. While many startup companies make outrageous claims of overnight success (e.g., millions in profits in 48 hours), this is hype more often than not. Most successful companies have taken several years to build from the ground up. A lot of this is due to investing in market research, getting to know their competitors, and taking advantage of opportunities where they present themselves. Don’t fall for flashy ads, startup jargon, and other hype designed to make for a nice sound bite.
Start with a solid business plan. A startup is a long-term investment. Think of it as an overall venture. The startup costs money to get started, and that money has to come from somewhere. You can’t claim to have millions in profits right away from a successful business plan because your work requires hard work and market research to get those profits.
While many new businesses look good on paper, they may not be solvent in the future. Some venture capitalists will resist funding a start-up based on this basis alone, so it’s important to have a business plan that can stand up to their scrutiny. If your venture capital firm finds you financially viable, they’ll want to see proof of your business plan’s viability to continue to finance you.
Start with a few successes. Starting a successful business requires a lot of hard work and market research. Too many new entrepreneurs jump into the deep end before learning all that is required to be successful. These entrepreneurs should focus on documenting their short-term and long-term success to demonstrate that they can make the business profitable over time.
Find support. Many venture capitalists and angel investors provide seed money and other business forms for startups in their portfolio. Investors want to see proof that the business has what it takes to achieve growth in key areas and that it can achieve more. Seek out his and other professionals who can provide information about the company’s strengths and weaknesses. They can also help you navigate the paperwork processes involved with getting a start-up loan from a bank.
Partner with others. A successful entrepreneur must work with others early in the startup process to build a team of advisers, suppliers, and distributors. These entrepreneurs will help each other through the growing pains of business development and play an important role in marketing the product once it is ready for sale. Investors can provide seed money, business loans, and other forms of business help in exchange for having a stake in the company. Investors are impressed when entrepreneurs are willing to work with them to develop their venture into a success.
Be vocal about your goals. Entrepreneurs should speak up about their business ideas at cocktail parties, dinners, and conferences. They should be vocal about their future aspirations and their plans to make those dreams a reality. The more that start-ups talk about their business plans, the more likely other investors will invest in their company.