Why getting started is the hardest bit

Trying to launch a startup is a bit like waiting to cross Broadway during rush hour. I’m standing at the edge of the sidewalk, looking left and right, assessing my options. Do I take a calculated risk and step out before the white man appears, or do I wait for him to tell me it’s safe, but risk missing my train?

When it comes to commuting, at least if I play it safe there will probably (hopefully) be another train not too far away. Entrepreneurship is a bit different. The longer I hang around waiting to be absolutely certain I’m not going to get hurt, the more opportunities whizz by.

Of course – if you’ll entertain an extension of this rather flimsy metaphor – it’s not exactly wise to barrel head-first into oncoming traffic without a second thought. But I feel like I’ve spent enough time waiting.

The past week at the Tow-Knight Center has been a blur of new business development tools: business model canvasses to draw up, audience personae and buyer journeys to be imagined (with the help of the consultants at RevSquare), and the intricacies of user experience-centred design to understand:

It all makes perfect sense in theory, but actually filling in the blanks with specifics pertaining to my own project is hard when I still haven’t synthesised a hypothesis for it.

Self-doubt is a cruel mistress, most commonly heard uttering things like:

  • That idea’s been done to death already!
  • You’ll never make money doing that!
  • No-one will be interested!
  • It’s too labour-intensive!
  • You don’t have the right skills!

And so on.

Thankfully, I’m also not short on inspiration, whether it’s hearing from successful women media entrepreneurs at the International Women’s Media Foundation and Ford Foundation’s Cracking the Code summit, or seeing how motivated my classmates are about their own projects.

There are times when I tell others about my idea, that I feel my eyes light up and see my hands start to wave around uncontrollably – both dead giveaways that I’m excited about something.

There must be others out there who’ll feel the same way about what I’m trying to achieve. They’re my audience, the most important people in this whole startup equation – and it’s time to cross the street and find them.

On that note, my goals for the next week include:

  • Refining a Unique Value Proposition to use as a springboard for creating a business model canvas and lean business canvas;
  • Creating several audience personae for my site and beginning to understand their buyer journeys;
  • Wireframing some possible options for a webpage.

Big Apple bites:

Discovered: podcasts. Yeah I know, late adopter, right? My hitherto hectic, breaking news-focused, car-centric lifestyle never seemed to lend itself to listening to anything other than short bursts of radio news. But I’m a New York subway rider now and podcasts are a calming, handsfree cocoon during the rush-hour commute. I am currently enjoying Startup with much empathy.

Ate: at Carmine’s, a theater district Italian-American institution. The Penne alla Vodka is a must-try. Even with my previous experiences of this country’s lack of portion control I was still gobsmacked at the size (and weight!) of the plates that landed at our table. Just look at this eggplant parmigiana monstrosity!

Carmines NY Eggplant Parmigiana

Watched: A Gentleman’s Guide to Love and Murder. The riotously funny story of one man’s ascension to the head of the D’Ysquith dynasty, which has a charmingly classic light opera score performed by an accomplished cast.