3 KEY POINTERS FOR FIRST-TIME ENTREPRENEURS

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When I reflect on these last three years — during which my sectionmate from business school, Jenn Hyman, and I started Rent the Runway — I could never have imagined that our business would reach the scale and success it has today. It’s been an exciting, challenging and crazy journey, and I had the following pieces of advice to guide me through from the onset.

1. Ditch the business plan. Jenn and I had a rule from the very beginning to never write a business plan. We found that starting a business is more about executing a series of iterative tests, each test eliminating some of the risks entrepreneurs face when launching a company. Instead of sitting around and putting together a business plan based on hypothesis, we knew we needed to test our idea on the ground to see if we could actually promote “renting” as a new consumer behavior.

We had to get scrappy, and we first tested out our idea by going to Harvard with a trunk full of dresses that we let girls try on and rent. Next, we went to Yale and rented out the dresses, but didn’t let women try them on. For the third trial, we sent a PDF out to students that said “call us if you want to rent this dress.” So each time, we were getting closer and closer to what our actual concept was – an Internet dress rental site – to prove that it was really going to work.

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