In an entrepreneur duel arena, the nuances are challenging, risks disproportionate and innovation, a tall order for many aspirants. As the global economy rebounds and business sectors are being salvaged from the throes of the financial downturn, new realities are redefining business and – the culture of entrepreneurship.
When starting a business, be forewarned that failure is most definitely a possibility but the odds don’t have to be so stacked in favor of failure. By following a few simple, common sense startup strategies and steps, you can make your start-up a success.
1. HIRE THEM GOOD
As important as it is to staff up to run the organization, it is equally if important to hire the right set of people to do the job. Ascertain specific employee prerequisites for your business. By looking at characteristics in employees that fit well into the company culture, you can hire new recruits that will mesh well with the work environment.
Detailing the employment success of the founders, their capabilities, forecast of business, growth plans and the role of a new employee in the company will help prospective employees align their goals with that of the company. Moreover, envisioning a success story with conviction will have them caring as much about your business as you do.
All in all, to ensure your startup is a success, you don’t have to be the smartest entrepreneur. You just have to be smart enough to hire the right set of people with the right perspectives to help you do it.
2. THE ‘BUCK’ STOPS HERE
Most startups are surprised to learn that the worst problem they face to get their business off the ground are not due to competitors, but securing funding from investors. And while acquiring funds is but part of what it means to be a startup, non-compliance of regulatory financial systems can destabilize business models.
A lot of startups may get their early-stage seed funding from friends and family who offer to provide loans. Then, there are Business Angels (BAs), who are accredited investors – individuals with substantial wealth or income who invest in business in return for equity. As startups claim, the best way to find angel investors is through personal introductions. Angels generally do not exercise control of running the startup, and they will offer support in return for a minority stake.
Venture Capital funds invest large amounts in startups; however the money comes with restrictions. VCs are over conservative and take time in assessing business risks before making their investments. They invest in your idea and offer their financial support to get it market-ready. And, they almost always require significant equity for their investments. That is, a high rate of return on their money vis-à-vis angels. You can also avail investment bank loans and government grants or transact with brokers who offer to make business investments. However, in trying to identify easily-accessible financial investors, you need to be discerning of aspects that seek to defraud companies.
In addition to obtaining the right funds and identifying potential business needs, few startups argue that there is the daunting task of managing high volume of Government regulatory compliances. In this case, it is pivotal to have an expert handle your paperwork or appoint a CPA/Legal Expert to look after this for you. Apart from this, most new ventures grapple with inflow of funds from potential customers/clients primarily attributed to uneven business cycles, delays in closing business agreements, client/customer credit periods etc. It is a good idea to have a home grown accountant or finance professional within the organization to ensure that this is taken care of. This has proven to negate funding delays which are a huge distraction for founders, who ought to be driving business not worrying about investors.
3. CUSTOMER IS KING. FIRST CUSTOMER IS GOD
It’s not just startups that are beleaguered about customer acquisition. However, in the world of startups, it is hard to land that first and most likely loyal customer who can be effectively used as a reference account to forge new business deals.
First, broadly work out a business model on how your new service will benefit your potential customers. It’s important to be able to explain on print the value that your product or service can offer. In a sense, the one mistake that kills startups would be not having a customer-centric product. Generally, most customers and clients are known to be skeptical with regard to new brands as there is no evidence of previous work or collateral to display. In that case, try the method of references. A business contact in your past employment or a friend who knows your expertise can lead you to potential clients.
Adopt different and innovative means of market research with regard to customers using a mix of traditional face-to-face networking with plenty of Web 2.0 networking. Invariably, plan to monetize your customer. Once you have landed your first customer and if you’re not bound by the trappings of a Non-Disclosure Agreement (NDA), leverage this customer as a reference account.
4. YOU CANNOT NOT NETWORK
Perhaps, one of the newest methods of enhancing brand presence and visibility is through the power of Web 2.0 networking. Startups must have a strong online presence in the form of social/new media tools as they offer a great return on investment for little or no upfront costs.
Developing useful, remarkable content and sharing it online (via blogs, Twitter, Facebook, etc.) is a tremendously helpful way to entice new customers and develop a loyal online following. Write blogs, connect with your customers, vendors, business network by providing business updates on a regular basis. Building a well-developed website replete with profiles of the founders, information on business services and products, and sharing business articles is important in enhancing consumer experience and brand recall. In most cases, immediate brand recall provides significant in-roads into the growth of your business.
5. CO-FOUNDERS – KEY TO CONSERVATION
What are some of the benefits of having a co-founder? Because there are a few drawbacks, and one in particular is giving up a phenomenal share of the ownership pie. If, to counter this, you can find co-founders that bring enough to the table that it mitigates the loss in ownership through their contribution, the overall business profits will be significantly higher.
Starting a new business is construed as a life-changing event. To succeed against competition, entrepreneurs generally have to perform high-level tasks that require extraordinary levels of effort. Hence, having co-founders provide competitive advantages, with discussions about pursuing business options, sharing the investment load and collaborating in making business work. Every co-founder in your team will bring their own set of skills, experience and unique connections and people to draw on and make your team formidable. And, when you have multiple founders, a spirit of comradeship will bind them together in a way that business is conserved.
As entrepreneurs steer post-recession woes, fuelled by a slew of new ideas and opportunities, they must be encouraged to develop the capabilities of their companies, and bring sustainable business offerings and products to market relatively quickly.
Wittten by Meethu Elza for Chillibreeze