by Sally Poblete, CEO of Wellthie
There are plenty of reasons why more people don’t take the plunge from Corporate America to entrepreneurship. It’s hard to leave the security and a paycheck from a regular job and the risk of failure is great. An entrepreneur also has to wear many different hats, like needing to sell to customers, even if your main expertise is in technology or finance.
However, entrepreneurship reaps many rewards and if you’re thinking about making the switch. Here are several tips to help you take the plunge:
1. Build on Expertise.
If you are coming from a corporation that is a player in your industry, and it’s a big and growing industry, why not start there? Not only will you have a deep understanding of your field, including the competitive landscape, customer buying patterns, regulations, pricing and other insider knowledge that puts you ahead of people without the background, you will also be able to fast track the process of researching your idea.
2. Search for Unmet Needs.
You can likely rattle off a long list of process or product gaps in your industry that new design or technology solutions can address well. Or, the current customers of your industry may be seeking a new solution that industry incumbents can’t delivery well or quickly because of being a big behemoth. Start from these nuggets to figure out how your company can solve a gigantic problem, provide a novel approach, or reinvent a broken process using technology.
3. Network to Build Your Team.
One of the biggest challenges to a startup is building your team. If there aren’t people in your current network who you can imagine building a company with, get out there and meet new people. There’s an abundance of meet-ups for entrepreneurs, networking sites like Onevest, Start-up Weekends, and co-working spaces where like-minded people are gathering to meet others. Also, don’t forget to use your contacts to find mentors, advisors, investors and potential customers.
4. Start Sketching and Prototyping.
Even before you need to find or hire developers, start working on putting your product concepts down in a visual to help sell your vision to potential team members and investors. The process of getting your first product right is an iterative journey, and a great designer can help you craft it into a prototype much quicker than you think.
5. Start-up Funding.
Start-up funding can come from many places – there’s the traditional route of personal savings and friends and family who believe in you and want to fund your idea. There are a growing number of crowd funding sites like Angelist and Onevest who democratize funding. And also, there’s a growing number of seed funds, angel investment groups or incubators who are focused on funding early stage entrepreneurs.
There’s no better time for an entrepreneur to get started. While the challenges and barriers are still high in starting a company, there’s also a robust and active ecosystem that is encouraging entrepreneurs to get started. Professionals with deep domain expertise in an industry possess an advantage – you have honed great skills and experience along the way – its time to apply it to your start-up.
Sally Poblete has been a leader and innovator in the health care industry for 18 years. She founded Wellthie in 2013 out of a deep passion for making health insurance more simple and approachable for consumers. She had a successful career leading product development at WellPoint, one of the nation’s largest health insurance companies. An entrepreneur at heart, she also ran a long-term health care business and worked at several health care start-ups like HealthMarket and Medscape.