Starting a business: How to Just Do It!

As part of a series of content to celebrate International Women’s Day 2020, we spoke with inspiring women that are part of the Escape The City community. They share their valuable lessons and advice to support other women in the workplace who are making brave career changes or are hustling to get a business off the ground.

jess barratt, franklin scholarsMeet Jess Barratt, the founder of Franklin Scholars, a social enterprise that helps young people navigate the challenges of school and life. 

Jess is also part of The Escape School faculty, helping entrepreneurs test and build their ideas through our Startup Accelerator programme.

We spoke to Jess about her advice to help people get their ideas out into the world:

1. Talk to people

I never intended to start a business, but did have an idea. I began talking to people and it snowballed from there.

It started to resonate with people and I learned a lot from the conversations that I was having, which enabled me to build a better service.

You never know how people may be able to help you or introduce you to. Think about:

  • Friends
  • Colleagues
  • Strangers
  • Wider networks
  • Putting yourself out there at events and conferences

You will be surprised at how much support will come your way. People are willing to make introductions, which can help you make big progress in a short amount of time.

Most importantly – have lots of conversations with the people that have the problem that you are trying to solve. You don’t need a perfect pitch or solution, you just need to gather insights, such as:

  • How does the problem that you’re trying to solve, manifest itself for them in their daily lives? What does it look like? 
  • What are their current or past behaviours?
  • What have they already tried to do to solve that problem?
  • Why haven’t existing solutions worked for them?

Getting these questions answered is essentially the start of customer development. It is super important to do this in the early days, but the learning must never stop!

2. Don’t overthink things

Start doing or building your product or service – quickly or cheaply. Don’t expect the first version to be perfect.

Build something – anything. Put it in front of your potential customers and learn something valuable from their reaction. Reid Hoffman, co-founder of LinkedIn famously said:

3. Try not to create something that works for everyone

Start really small in terms of what you’re creating and who you’re creating it for. Pick a niche target audience. A segment that definitely has the problem you’re trying to solve. It’s then easier to find them and market to them. 

Trying to resonate with everyone is the surest way of resonating to no-one.

4. Don’t fall too deeply in love with your idea

This is the hardest one to really take on board. Instead of being so wedded to your idea, try and fall in love with the problem you’re trying to solve. It’s likely that your first idea isn’t actually your best one. 

If you’re obsessed with the problem you’re trying to solve and it really aligns with your values or what you want to achieve in life, then that will be the thing that drives you forward.

Passion will equip you with all the ups and downs that come with entrepreneurship.

If you really love the problem, that will be the purpose that is inside of you to drive you forward through challenging times.

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