Journey of each entrepreneur is unique in its own ways. The spectrum of the experiences depends on the category of start-up. But learnings can happen from right from our surroundings, our culture, our history, and others who have made the same journey. A ready-reckoner, as it were, also helps the startups entrepreneur to decide which way to take while standing on the crossroads. Not always the success stories help, sometimes its the failure stories that teach you the best lessons and help in making the right decision.
The idea of starting a business is peripheral, the actual dry run begins when the things go functional. As in Indian mythology, the start-up business is sure to face umpteen (trials by fire) to prove the concept or the product. This is also be the time when the start-up needs to develop its own differentiated weapon that can prove to be a game changer.
Leveraging professional circles helps the startups to gain much benefit from the various group of acquaintances. Particularly in my suit, it was the alumni associations (of BITS, Pilani and IIM-Calcutta) who helped me to connect with the people who already sailed the same path earlier. Their availability and their suggestions served as enhancing boards for the validation of core business idea.
Unlike the sages spent many years in atonement, to master all the skills and knowledge of the universe, similarly, the start-ups tapasya is the crucial time when the product platform is built and developed. The product/business proposition needs to be timely validated again and again. Numerous experiments, in the form of pilot projects with the product platform, will be necessary. Finding the people willing to be the sample for your tests is a task. But Willing, early customers can be co-opted for these test-runs so as to validate some of the core concepts.
Even if you have been an experienced corporate boss before venturing out on your own, it becomes necessary to cross check to the drawing board. The core team must have many specialists. And they must be inclined to donning multiple hats or get to be multi-faceted with pure passion. Because, ultimately its only the passion which will be the only believers in your ideas for the start-up, specially during the beginning mortality phase for the venture. This passion can go a long way in turning prospective customers into believers in your business proposition.
In India, the B2B game usually runs over a spread of five to seven years, with many objectives, goals and targets in interim. It is important for any start-up to monitor its performance on each n every stage so as to figure out any deviations from the pre-decided goals. This will help to maintain the progressive walkout of the business by rectifying the aberration and go with the benchmarked objectives.
The team is the heart of any start-up body. Thats why the core team is very crucial. Adding to it, the true fact is that the quality and potential of this core team will be the major metric to influence VCs (venture capitalists) to invest in the business idea. The team must be prepared for a long haul and work together in harmony. Strategically, it helps to have team players with skills that complement one another than to upbring the best out of the core.
The entrepreneur needs to keep a sharp focus on building the core differentiator, be it the cheapest price, service delivery or the pioneering technology base. You need to make a USP of yours to stand out in the competition. The start ups needs to build additional capability based on the responses and feedbacks from customers and requirements of the market, not simply for the sake of offering technology features.It need a very strong planning keeping in mind all the aspects for a reasonably good product platform enhancements
A start up business must ensure a strict code of business ethics and integrity. Because it is only the work culture that will go long even while diversifying or expanding. There are no short-cuts for success. One has to very smart while operating business. One shouldnot merely keep on practising integrity and transperancy in all the horizons of business activities. Young entrepreneurs know, how imp it is to know what to communicate, when to communicate and how to communicate.
Keeping a close tab on funds flow is vitol. Financial discipline is quite critical to sustain the business. Even in the situations when you dont have a full-fledged CFO in the company, one team must have full knowledge of the funds position. It is imp for the organisation that somebody wear the mantle of the CFO. Keep a close check on collectibles, outstandings, discount slabs and all other forms of cash outflows and inflows of course. Do remember that most customers will pay up only when you ask.
Most importantly, know that you are the creator of your own destiny. And one must learn to keep holding the pen of your destination in your own hands. Along the way, there will be occasions when you may be tempted to take on businesses/projects not in line with your core competence or your long-term vision. Learning to say no these distractions is crucial to success in long term.
By T.P Pratap, Chief Marketing Officer and Co-Founder at Qwikcilver Solutions