5 lessons on starting a business from scratch
This winter, Dior Sarr, the founder of Slice’ Eat Up, an online food-ordering platform for people with special dietary needs, took part in MaRS’ Entrepreneur’s Toolkit Workshops Intensive Program.
Dior started her company a year ago and says that all of the pieces are coming together since attending the program. By following the program’s lessons and frameworks, she even made it into the final round of the Up-Start! Competition, a business pitch competition open to Entrepreneurship 101 participants.
With applications now open for our next round of the Intensive Program, we asked Dior to share her top 5 lessons she learned in the program.
1. Trust your entrepreneurial instinct
“When I was first asked to present my business project during the first session of the business model series, I gave an overview of an idea I had just thought of a few weeks earlier. Yes, I had been working on Slice’ Eat Up for a few months, but the truth is I had given up on it. I was convinced that it would be too difficult to implement and had put the idea to rest. A few sessions later, after going through the Business Model Canvas, I realized that I didn’t really need many resources to create the minimum viable product and Slice’ Eat Up was born again.”
2. You don’t have to know all of the details right away
“Going through the Business Model Canvas made me realize that, while there were some essential components to the business, there were also some nice-to-have features that didn’t need to be implemented right away. The instructor gave some useful feedback that helped us think about how to develop a minimum viable product and gain some initial attraction.”
3. Understanding basic financial principles can help your business
“I work with numbers on an almost daily basis, so I was surprised by how little I knew about the basic principles of running a lean business. During the finance fundamentals series, I was reminded of how important it is to understand your operational costs and how they may impact your pricing model.”
4. Validate your idea as early as possible
“For me, the biggest highlight of the program was realizing how important it is to understand your customers’ needs. Having in-depth conversations with potential clients at the beginning can really help you to tailor your marketing strategy and make sure your idea will gain traction.”
5. Surround yourself with great people
“One of the biggest advantages of attending the workshops is the people: you’re surrounded by great individuals who share similar challenges. Creating a business can be a lonely process—especially in the early days—so it’s always nice and valuable to be able to share ideas in a safe zone where you never feel judged.”
Are you looking to take your startup to the next level? We’ll be hosting our Summer Intensive Program from May 11 to June 22. Join 30 other entrepreneurs for this seven-week series that includes three of the most fundamentally important topics for new startups: the value proposition, the business model and finance fundamentals. Applications for the program close on May 4!
Amy is the Associate, Entrepreneurship Programs at MaRS. Amy helps co-ordinate the planning, execution, marketing and development of all workshops within Regional Innovation Centres and Campus Linked Accelerators in the Ontario Network of Entrepreneurs (ONE) network. See more…