NEVER SAY NEVER!
Taking the entrepreneurial road isn’t just about providing a brand new service or creating a brilliant new product. It is about a mindset that’s embedded in the psyche of almost every person. The question is: Are you ready to let yours lead the way? If yes, here’s your essential start-up checklist. Take a few of these pointers and call us in the morning... to give us some money. (Yes, ideas are money, but the bank is closed!)
By Sairee Chahal
Entrepreneurship is the new black. The environment to start up was never better and more vibrant. Access to information, resources, mentorship and funding has grown consistently over the last three-to-four years. Ideas are aplenty and more and more people are building solutions and services that meet consumer needs. Bottomline: There’s no time like the present to get your own boss on!
Category leaders are the ones who help start a trend or a new way of solving something that may have existed for a while. Think first-mover or creator. For example, Flipkart was instrumental in building e-commerce and changing user behaviour to buy online. Even now, it continues to invest in building newer models of service delivery, supply chain and logistics among others.
The thing is, entrepreneurship is not just some fancy idea, but neither is it for everyone. They say there’s a book inside everyone, but few actually get around to writing it. The same is true for a start-up: You may have a great idea, but you need a few basics to get you off the ground. Here is a quick checklist if you’re contemplating an entrepreneurial plunge. Word to the wise: Don’t jump into the ocean if you’re allergic to salt.
Know Your Motivation
Are you in business for just the “money,” and you can be honest? Then a start-up is perhaps not the best thing to do. Are you passionate about what you do? Do you see yourself doing this 24 hours of the day for
a period of 20 years? If yes, then you can think about getting into the business of yourself. Knowing who you are is the
Plan The Actual Execution Of An Idea
Everyone has ideas, they are a dime a dozen. However, the ones who can make an idea happen, execute it and quickly manage the changing face of the idea are able to build a big business. The founder of Paytm, Vijay Shekhar Sharma, disrupted an entire industry and set up a payments bank, all within a quick span. So did a bunch of others across different industries. The backbone is execution.
Build & Test The Team
Finding smart people and keeping them excited about the mission is perhaps the biggest job of a founder or an entrepreneur. And she or he must do that consistently, day in and day out. Founders are often the Chief Recruiting Officers of their company. Even a Masa Son of Softbank needs the smarts of a Nikesh Arora to keep things on the edge. The right people—at the right time—are critical.
Find The Best Product–Market Fit You Can
Companies die if the idea is too early. Or too late. Or too raw. Or if you cannot demonstrate its value to your prospective users or customers. Or demonstrate it strongly enough. A business has to directly improve—or build upon—the status quo by introducing a different way of doing things or building a product that does that. A great example is Ola—it was not the first taxi company in the market but it came at a time when smartphone penetration was growing and consumers were looking for better quality and higher transparency.
Building a business should revolve around one fundamental: Create something that can generate impact, returns and scale... especially if you want to be a League One entrepreneur. As Sharma of Paytm says, “There is beginner’s luck. But there is no scaler’s luck.” Many high-potential businesses wilt away in the absence of scale. Or a plan for it. Sharma adds, “Go big or go home.” A small business is likely to survive but not excite in the long run.
Remember & Memorise This:
“Your Product Is Your Company”
Archit Gupta of Cleartax nailed it when he said, “A great product can change things faster than any other element in business.” That is largely true. Distruption at scale—or huge impact—happens with a great product. And, normally, services are hard to scale, products are not. Gupta’s company, Cleartax, imbibed a native advantage by building a superior product that millions of users could use, easily. Helping the user file taxes online without help from a CA meant building a product that made things simple and seamless.
Grow Into Your Funding
The most discussed aspect of the start-up world and a fairly significant one is funding. However, you should know that funding is not the most important part of building a great business. The money chases great ideas, execution and passion—all put together for great results.
Get The Grit & Flow With The Failure
Founders fail, their ideas fail, their teams fail—and it happens more than one can ever imagine. But it is the ability to bounce back and hit the ground running that differentiates great entrepreneurs from good ones. The Master has failed more times than a beginner can even imagine, and it is the secret sauce behind the world’s greatest start-up dons, including Bill Gates and Steve Jobs. However, “de-risking” your business and taking cautious risks is key to staying alive. Foolish mistakes are rarely forgiven in the start-up world.
Brace For Instant Competition
It is true that first movers have an advantage. But it is also true that highly competitive markets help entrepreneurs build superior companies. A slow market or lack of competition is seen as a red flag. Sometimes, competition exists in the form of alternatives, substitutes or a different segment altogether.
Stay Fit, Bro!
No unfit person ever built a great business. Keeping your head above water and dealing with the stress of a start-up needs a fit body and mental clarity. Run, walk, play—do whatever you will to stay active and ready.
Play To Persist
There are no easy answers and no shortcuts, but you knew that. What you may not have known is that it is likely to take all your time, money and resources. It will mean blood, sweat and tears along the way. Nidhi Agarwal of Kaaryah built her company and got funded after 113 attempts with investors. After which Ratan Tata himself invested in her venture.
Build Your Network
You will need this—and them—along the way. Give and get. Share generously before asking. The best entrepreneurs have the strong backing of their peers. Swati Bhargava of Cashkaro.com is one such person. She manages to get help and give help generously and has built a great network for herself in the system. Remember the proverbial “it takes a village to raise a child”? Well, a start-up is no different, and it may even involve some neighbouring villages once in a while.
Master The Tricks
Being a novice can never serve a great entrepreneur too well. They take the time to understand how a market functions, gauge user behaviour, sift through investor preferences and decode pricing intricacies. In the world of start-ups, it is not he who knows the most, but he who knows the best that wins. Know your competitors, but focus on your business. And assimilate the best practices, so you can work through—or around if necessary—them.
Keep It Simple
Conserve your attention, time, focus and build every day. Ride in one boat and go in one direction. Two-timing is not really a start-up thing. It is an intense affair and will need all of your energy and focus. Think of it like a relationship that you can’t live without. The rest comes as it will.
Of course, these are just some personality and approach pointers. Learn them, boost them and don’t forget to pass them on: If you’ve taken the plunge, others around you will feel the ripples.