Frustrated Businessman

It's fall now and gardeners are planting bulbs and seeds for next year, hopeful that springtime will bring an abundance of color to their gardens. These seeds are a lot like ideas. In order to flourish, they've got to be nurtured.

Starting a new business is one of the hardest – and potentially most rewarding – things you’ll ever do. Between creating your product, writing lines of code, figuring out a marketing strategy, and trying to be a good friend and family member, it’s hard to stay cool and collected. It's hard to know where to start.

So begin by thinking of your idea as a seed. A flower doesn't grow in one day, and neither does a business.

So, how do you nurture your idea and help it grow without losing your mind? Here are 4 tips.

1. Build a prototype

You’ve got a great idea, so why not talk it up and promote it? Well, wait a second. The world is chalk full of ideas. The power is in how you execute them. It’s difficult for people to imagine how your idea could become a reality without a prototype or model to look at.

Spend some time creating a website, coming up with a prototype, or creating an understandable model of your service. That way, when you explain it to people, your intentions will be clear from the get-go.

2. Run your idea by people

Some business-minds like to keep their ideas secret, worrying that someone might steal their concept. This is silly. First of all, the execution of your idea is more important than the idea itself. Second of all, you’re going to have trouble building a killer product without input from people you trust, in and out of your industry.

Talking up your idea is a good way to gauge interest. What questions do people have? What are their suggestions? Do they think they’d use what you have to offer?  Listen to everyone’s input, but remember that you don’t have to reach everyone. There will be haters who say, “phhh… that could never happen.” Trust us—it can!

3. Find a partner or two

If you started with a great idea, it will be obvious to other smart people, who’ll want to weigh in and give their input. Pick someone who is as passionate about it as you are, and who has different skills and abilities than you.

While you can go it alone, it's not a good idea. An entrepreneur flying solo is sometimes a red flag for lenders and investors. Plus, there's so much work! Sharing some of the load makes life so much easier.

4. Decide how much you’ll invest

In order to give your idea some love, you’ll have to put some money into it. Decide how much you’re willing to invest. Create a business plan and figure out if you’re ok with accepting funds from family and friends.

When you’re just getting started, it’s ok to put in a just a little money at a time. Figure out how much you’re comfortable with spending each month… and do all you can for next to nothing.

Nurture that seed into a beautiful business flower

With the right amount of water, soil, sun, and love, bulbs can turn into gorgeous tulips and daffodils. If you carefully consider your idea before starting out, you can help grow an awesome startup.

What do you think entrepreneurs and small business owners should do when they’re getting started?