A short business story (3 minute read) that sets the context, the challenges faced, the type of leadership involved and the questions to ponder, problem solve. It’s not to give answers; for business and life in general is not like a school guide. This column is to provoke the reader to think further. And to raise awareness that each individual or organization is unique, and that the answers would depend on the situation, the difference in organizational culture, the context, etc.
To question is to think. To think is to introspect. To introspect is to seek. To seek is to be aware. Being aware is when the journey begins.
Every day, more and more startups are born. Some are created because of an idea of the Founder. Some are under development because few friends think it’s cool to do so. Some also have a solid business plan. Some just want to be their own boss. Probably only 25% of all these startups survive the first 5 years of the company’s existence.
learn the trade
Simply having an idea will not be enough. It must result in a business that can generate income. Founders need to understand the business ecosystem, existing competition, consumer needs and bring those learnings to their idea.
Don’t expect perfection
– Are you tempted to wait for your product offering to be the most perfect?
“Well, how long will it take?”
–How many potential opportunities will you pass up for such an expectation?
– Do your consumers really want a great product or the perfect product?
–Have you tried the product with a cohort of consumers or is it just an idea?
– Are you in love with your idea?
– But do your potential consumers like your idea?
–Do they like your product?
– Unless we hear from consumers, what is the point of making a revenue plan?
–Get feedback from potential consumers. Let them critique your idea. Let them find problems with your solutions. This is how you can turn your idea into a commercial offer.
Respect cash flow
Know your cash flow. In your business, when you spend money on a daily basis and you don’t have a stable income yet, you are actually burning money.
The ability to have sustainable positive cash flow is what separates many successful startups from those that might have had great ideas but couldn’t execute them. Looking at many successful startups, they have acquired customers even in the product development phase. Above all, they were looking for supplier payment terms that were longer than their customer’s payment cycle.
Co-Founders and Core Team
When you partner up to start your business, your relationship with your co-founder(s) will be the foundation of your business. Every day your report will be tested. Do you have the absolute confidence and comfort to be yourself with your co-founder? It is in this response that your relationship is built.
–Do you know why you signed with a co-founder?
– Was it for subject matter expertise?
– Was it also for the value system he or she brings to the company?
– Above all, have you identified and articulated your roles, responsibilities, interests and authority within the company?
– Who will be responsible for what. It is this clarity that sets successful founding teams apart from others.
Pitching for capital and customers
You will receive many “noes” before finding adequate and relevant financing. It would take you months of constant presentations, regular meetings and calls, product demonstrations. It’s actually selling your idea!
With many such locations, your presentation will continue to evolve. There’s nothing to be done looking at other companies that might have been funded when they first met. Focus on your abilities, your big picture, and how you plan to get there.
Failing is good
– Fail sometimes, so you can learn from it.
– Quick failure. Which means you need to put your ideas into test mode as quickly as possible. This is the only way to gauge market acceptance.
-It’s normal to fail. Failure is not the end of your journey. Not everything goes as planned. But it’s your attitude to failure that will shape you. Learn from each failure and shape your next steps.
Remember that you are the only one who can make your dreams come true. It cannot be outsourced.