Most big ideas from entrepreneurs don’t happen in one day. What started out as an idea from my college dorm room in the winter of 2013 is now an actual website that is ready to its provide services. New ideas are daunting to pursue. There is a constant pressure to be successful and most of the time you are lost with no idea about how to take the next step. Entrepreneurship is a trial and error process. What helped me the most was persistence and a desire to make something a reality. These are the top 7 things I learned in my journey to entrepreneurship:
I would be honest with you, when I got the idea of YOUNIFI, I had no wish of making it real. I came across the Clinton Global Initiative University (CGIU)conference while searching for events that would help me get a free trip. The application required me to come up with a solution to an existing problem in my community.
During my time in Bangladesh, I was heavily involved with the non-profit sector. It initially started out an effort to be more competitive in my college application. I gradually understood its importance and how much I was learning from it. During my time in Bangladesh, it was really hard for me to find different volunteering opportunities. Google search for things to do in Bangladesh would not show any useful results. Most of the things I got involved in were from the people I knew. I took my problem and turned into a solution. My application ultimately got accepted and I did get that free trip I wanted. Attending the conference was life-changing. I met and talked with a lot of inspiring students entrepreneurs. Those conversations gave me the courage to pursue YOUNIFI.
2. Find Good Teammates
A big part of YOUNIFI’s success is my team-mates who have worked weekends and nights to make it come this far. I made a list of things I was lacking and was searching for people who would fill those needs. After attending the CGIU conference, that summer I went back to Bangladesh and had our first meeting. I pitched my idea to almost everyone I knew might be interested in it. My work in Bangladesh helped me get connected to the people who would play a crucial part for me to pursue YOUNIFI.
3. Be Persistent
Your journey to being an entrepreneur will never be easy. You will never know how to start something new no matter how many books or college courses you take. The only way to learn it is by doing it. In the past 4/5 years with YOUNIFI, most of the time I did not know what I was doing. I still think I don’t know what I am doing. But I always had a mission to make YOUNIFI a reality. I really love taking on things that look impossible. It is very easy to give up when you have a new idea. There will be a lot of barriers. The challenge is to find another way and other solutions that would help you go forward.
4. Be willing to Change your Business Idea
YOUNIFI is very different from the initial CGIU application. No idea is perfect when it is first conceived. You have to be willing to change it if you want it to be successful. You have to let it go to make it better. A lot of the ideas that helped YOUNIFI be a reality were from the other YOUNIFI co-founders. Our market research and experiences have helped us include things that I did not think of initially.
5. Be Humble and Let Others Take Ownership of Projects
Creating something in Bangladesh while I was in the US was hard. I spend my weekends working on YOUNIFI and never had enough time join other college clubs in the campus. I needed more people on the ground who would help me out. Still, to this day, I say YOUNIFI is not mine, it is for everyone. YOUNIFI’s success is measured by how much of an impact it is making in the community, not by its founders. When I first had people involved with YOUNIFI, I tried to know them at a personal level initially. Gradually I got to trust them more and had them take leads on different projects. If anyone had good ideas, I accepted it and tried to implement them.
6. TALK TALK TALK
No one will know what you are trying to do if you are not sharing your idea with others. During the first few years of YOUNIFI, I send out emails to almost everyone on campus to let them know what I was trying to do and asked them for help. I used to keep them updated with my progress. Knowing people helped me secure my first fellowship. The fellowship helped us start working on building the website and launch YOUNIFI’s first project.
7. Apply to Everything
An important part of making your idea into reality is writing it down. Applying to different competitions, fellowships, and incubators force you to think critically about your idea. It makes you structure all your thoughts and lets you think in details about every part of your new idea. Your application also exposes you to other people who might be able to help you. If your application gets accepted you have something to put on that resume!
That would be all for now. I can keep on writing but I will stop for the time being.