Tips For Chicago Startups

Jim Klossner 3m 719

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Chicago is a hotbed for great tech startups and small businesses, and some believe it may have the potential to become a major tech scene due to the perfect mix of ingredients: several top universities and corporations that can act as partners, mentors and investors for small companies looking to get off the ground. Entrepreneurship isn’t easy, but these tips should help you get your startup off on the right foot.

Be comfortable with uncertainty – Getting a startup up and running it is a lot of things, but certainty isn’t one of them. If you have a great idea and aren’t afraid of the uncertainty that comes with entrepreneurship, you’re more likely to succeed. By focusing on everything but the uncertainty of starting a business, you’ll feel more empowered to work hard and embrace the passion for your business.

Be open to feedback – Your small business or startup idea might be unique and amazing, but it’s definitely not perfect. As you begin designing or developing a product, opening a storefront or selling services, you’ll also begin to get feedback from peers or potential business associates. Embrace this feedback and use it to improve your products and services. Remember, you don’t have to take every piece of advice thrown your way; try not to take constructive criticism personally, even if it’s presented in an unconstructive way.

Choose great associates – Even if you start your small business or startup on your own, you’ll need associates to help you grow. One hugely important element in this is to choose the right people. Find other like-minded entrepreneurs who can help you take your small business or startup to the next level, especially if you believe you are weak in one area of business (for instance, you may be great at developing a product, but not so great on the sales front.) Additionally, aligning yourself with others who are in the same entrepreneurial position can give you new ideas, insights and tips to help you grow your own business and can act as a support system in good times and bad.

Think before you jump – In every aspect of your business, you should be carefully considering key factors before you rush a product or service out of the door. Take inventory of where you are personally, financially and in the marketplace. Test your product or services, run betas, and create multiple versions before your first sale. Perfecting your product first and making smart investment choices before going all out can save you time and money in the long run.

Focus on the customer – In the excitement of launching a startup or small business, it can be incredibly easy to lose focus on the customer. Be aware of customer issues and solve them effectively. Solicit and listen to customer feedback when improving your products. Don’t spend so much time focusing on other aspects of your business that you neglect your customers. Although research, marketing and sales are important, without the customers you won’t have a product or service to market – or money to spend on research.

Be involved in all parts of your business – Maybe budgeting isn’t your strong suit, or you’d rather do anything than sales, but as the leader of a small business or founder of a startup, it’s in your best interest to be involved in all aspects of your business. This will help push you out of your comfort zone and get you intimately familiar with the business, help you become more invested in your company and push you to work harder (a key driver in the ultimate success of a startup.) Share the responsibilities with a co-founder for even more success.

Collaborate – Don’t go at it alone.  Find a co-founder who has similar business principles, vision, and drive and can compliment your skill set. A startup co-founder can be a sounding board for ideas, a logistical ally and a built-in support system. As a small business owner or startup company, especially one in a city like Chicago (which is filled with other startups) you’ll face many obstacles, and having someone by your side to help you navigate the waters can make or break your business.

Jim Klossner writes for John J Cahill, Inc. located in Evanston, Illinois.