Digital Brisbane recently wrapped up the MaRS Entrepreneurship 101 sessions, a free and live online course streamed from Toronto, Canada, and hosted at Brisbane startup spaces River City Labs and Little Tokyo Two.
The course hosted global and social entrepreneurs, investors and mentors who shared experiences and tips about every element of running a startup.
Weekly lectures were held over eight months and attracted a community of Brisbane’s entrepreneurs in the early stage of their own startups.
From business models to markets, financing and scaling, here are the top 15 take-home tips:
- Don’t be afraid to tell people your ideas. You can’t build a customer base with a secret. The sooner you can get the word out about your product and start sharing ideas, the sooner you’ll have an accurate picture about how your product could work, the market it could fill and the audience it could serve.
- Be authentic and believe in your product. Investor relations strategist Ron Alepian said investors wanted to know that you’re in it for the long haul. If you go into a pitch half-hearted, you’re going to leave empty-handed.
- It’s about the customer, not you. Instead of talking about your product and its features, make it easy for the customer to understand its benefits.
- Later stage funding is hard. Get traction and make your business profitable. Wearables expert Katherine Hague said to treat any investment as the last you’ll receive.
- Growth happens one customer at a time. Don’t expect to go global overnight, and answer every enquiry seriously.
- You need purpose and a sense of direction. Social entrepreneur Jennifer Corriero said: “Don’t plan like a GPS, plan like a compass. Have a broad sense of direction and be able to pivot when necessary.”
- Know where your skill sets end. “You don’t have to be the master of everything,” was beauty entrepreneur Kristen Wood’s advice.
- One person can make a difference but a group can make a revolution. Chakameh Shafii, the boss of online therapy provider TranQool, dropped a valuable truth bomb when she said: “As an entrepreneur, you will only be as successful as the talent you can attract and retain.”
- Create a culture of growth. “Be a model leader and create a culture of diversity from the start,” teamwork expert Michal Berman said.
- Retaining employees is critical. Recruitment guru Mandy Gilbert on keeping your people happy and focused: “Acknowledge wins, be fair, share knowledge, align vision and have fun.”
- “Culture eats strategy for lunch,” said Michal Berman. Lead by example, drive a strong culture.
- Growth is the only thing you should be thinking of as a startup. Focus on growth through building, buying or partnering.
- Find investors who are passionate about your business. Matt Golden asks: “What is going to make investors believe you can do this?” Make sure they share your passion.
- Investors don’t invest in business. What you’re selling is an opportunity to be a part of a story. Create a pitch that shows you’re passionate and dedicated to the cause.
- “Ask yourself the tough questions, find a great mentor, research products, seek introductions and hustle,” said Marc Faucher from commerce and customer experience gurus Unata.
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