First Step Towards Your Business


In this read, Mallika Setalvad, Founder, Work in Progress, lays out an accurate navigation map of how to start your entrepreneurial journey, while taking the best route possible.


As someone who has been in the corporate world for the major part of her career, (and didn’t grow up in the ‘00s) I never really grew up wanting to start my own business. When the time came, I was naively optimistic about the fact, that in order to get started, all my professional experience and learnings gained over the years would clearly translate into what I needed to know. I mean, how hard can it possibly be, when people in their 20’s are doing it, right?

So wrong! Truly it is said, that the hardest part about getting started is in fact - getting started. So in this write-up, I’d like to walk you through what to keep in mind to get this first step right, and feel confident enough to take it.
1. Before the What, Where, When, How, start with the WHY

Know why you’re doing what you are doing. Dig deep and be honest with yourself about the reasons for doing what you’ve decided to spend all this time, effort and resources on. A great idea is easy to jump on to, but you don’t want to hold your head after the first few months, struggling with why you chose to run this distance. It is also critical to understand your real motivation and then deal with the impact your business will have on you accordingly. For example, if your reasons are 80% inner fulfillment and 20% to make money, make sure you don’t spend all your time worrying about the lack of revenue – that wasn’t your primary driver anyway! So think about the bigger picture, and start with the Why.

2. Start with the Common Sense Plan 

A business plan is a great way to iron out all aspects of your venture and force you to present a complete picture. I like to think that anyone - MBA or not, can scribble down their broad plan of action in a logical, common sense plan. My advice would always be to start at the beginning – Who is my audience? What am I offering them? Why will they want it? 
Then we move to - How do I market my offering to them? How will the money angle work? What resources do I need to make this work? Is this plan viable for 3 months at least? It is a logical connect the dots scenario and it is important that you can answer these basic common sense questions to feel sure about what you’re doing next. 

3. Research the hell out of it! 

This is meant to be fun, not taxing! Look up more about the product service/ industry, meet people who may be connected directly or indirectly and get a pulse of what the space is all about. This is such a critical part as it can shape, change or destroy your plan. The key thing to remember is not to soak in every word you hear or read, but only the parts that either truly resonate with you or come from a strong source. Be careful not to be too stubborn about our plan, and mould it as you learn from the experience or advice from knowledgeable sources around you. Filter out the noise and hold on to the nuggets that ring true.

4. Align with the right people/ mentors/ advisors 

I didn’t realize how hard it would be to get something off the ground until someone I trusted actually pushed me forward. The people you surround yourself by when you start your own business are going to influence you more than you realize. Make sure you open up to the right people and build relationships that you can fall back on, when needed. Advice comes from everywhere and at all times, but when you really need even the smallest bit of real advice, you’re not sure whom to turn to. Develop relationships that you will regularly connect with, and who could become strong advisory partners to you along the journey, rather than one-off mentoring sessions or friendly advice that’s ad hoc and doesn’t consistently add value. 

5. Own it 

If you don’t feel like it’s yours, it never will be. Like having a child, having your business is something that’s endemically yours. Despite the highs and lows, heartbreak, anguish, stress and joy, you must feel proud that this is your creation. It will show in your interaction with people and the way you make your brand visible to the outside world. 


Author Profile
Mallika Setalvad is the Founder of Work in Progress, a platform for women entrepreneurs, business owners and freelancers, looking to learn more about relevant work-topics, grow their network, collaborate with peers, mentors etc.

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