Apple co-founder and one of the biggest innovators of his time, Steve Jobs, said: “Everything around you that you call life was made up by people that were no smarter than you and you can change it, you can influence it, you can build your own things that other people can use.”
Entrepreneurship is all about building your own things—that can bring about a change, solve a problem, drive a transformation of sorts. There are numerous examples of innovators who have been successful entrepreneurs and innovators—from healthcare to life sciences, IoT, culture of co-working spaces, to fintech, digital payments and cab aggregators.
These startups were not built in a day. It takes more than ‘just an idea’ to build a successful venture. One needs to be prepared for years of hard work, failures and burning the midnight oil.
The initial steps are the most difficult. One needs to believe in the idea and follow the passion of building a startup. There will be roadblocks, but it is advisable to either ignore them or learn from them, but never digress from the goal.
Government initiatives have enabled a conducive environment for startups—it has contributed significant risk funding to promote an entrepreneurial spirit among students and has rolled out investment and loan programmes. India is the world’s third-largest tech startup hub. There is a convergence of mindsets between rural and urban citizens in their thought patterns, aspirations and evolving lifestyles that comes with easy access to tech. We call it ‘Millennial Intersect’. For instance, more than 86% of total 463 rural youth (BPL) trained under the Rural Self Employment Training Institute scheme of SBI have either started their own ventures or acquired jobs in the year 2017-18.
Here is a quick set of hacks that will come in handy for any aspiring entrepreneur. These are basis my own experience as a co-founder.
Set your goal, plan your work: Work smarter, not harder. Plan your day, start early. Involve yourself and don’t leave everything on others. Execution requires lot of effort on the ground level. Prepare and plan in advance. Take risks wherever required. Carve a niche for yourself. Hire people to handle tasks you aren’t good at.
Start small and make it big: Don’t jump at setting up a big project by putting in all funds you have at the time. Understand the pros and cons before you get into expansion spree. It is important to take one step at a time and consolidate one’s offerings/position. Ensure you are well aware of any consequences of your action before you start making your business big.
Develop skill-sets: Ensure you and your team are continuously upgraded in terms of skill-sets. Promote innovation. Develop business skills and gain the knowledge and tools you need to become a successful entrepreneur. Soft skill training is equally important and should be conducted for all the employees.
Areas to choose: Look at venturing into new areas like data science, machine learning, AI and IoT. These have the potential of driving many areas of operation in the times to come. Hire experts in these domains. Identify such trends, and build the right team and products around it.
Develop a network: Connect with relevant stakeholders at offline and online forums. Optimise the use of social media. A friendly introduction from someone known works best in this case. Spend time to socialise with a cross-section of people and ensure you travel across markets.
Look for unexplored opportunities: It is important to spot them. Keep a close look at how you can expand. Many startups in India are doing fairly well in foreign markets in different sectors. Remember—in startups, speed to market is the key.
Use banking instruments: The government has multiple schemes to fund small and startup businesses. The funds are disbursed through banks and other government-aided financial institutions. In India, MSME development organisations, state small industries development corporations as well as nationalised banks have initiatives aimed at startups, at different stages of their growth curve. Make sure you create a convincing business proposal for approval of funds. Take help of experts if required. Keep yourself updated with government policies.
Upasana Taku is co-founder & director, MobiKwik digital wallet company