The trend of startups has spread faster than a raging forest fire, especially amongst youngsters. Almost every nook and cranny bustling with today’s young generation boasts of a “budding startup”. However, it might be unfair to assume that only youngsters have a hand in propagating the “startup culture”. In fact, a lot of middle-aged, established people are increasingly quitting their full-time jobs to be a part of the startup extravaganza. But how many of them actually last to see the light of the day?
A startup, in my opinion, is the brainchild of a dynamic mind. A lot of us have a lot of ideas as to how we can make things better, different or easier. Some of us actually come up with something entirely new that promises to benefit mankind. However, the few of us who actually have the grit and determination of taking the idea forward and establishing it, come to be known as successful entrepreneurs.
This is further proven by the existence of unicorns, decacorns and hectocorns. Why are we talking about mythical creatures in an article about startups? Well, in business lingo, unicorns are privately owned startup companies valued at over $1 billion, decacorns are those which are valued at over $10 billion, while hectocorn companies are valued at over $100 billion. China leads the Unicorn pack with 46 startups, followed by India, UK, Germany and South Korea. The startup phase evidently isn’t just a passing fad- it is here to stay and if you’re lucky, you might be able to rake in enough moolah to last you a lifetime.
As per Wikipedia’s formal definition, a startup is an entrepreneurial venture which is typically a newly emerged business that aims to meet a marketplace need by developing a viable business model around a product, service, process or a platform. Also according to Wikipedia, startups have high rates of failure, but the minority of successes include companies that have become large and influential.
It is understandably scary- having to ideate, ensure funding, establishing yourself and honestly at one point, it just feels like too much work which doesn’t seem to be leading to anything concrete. Hence, we ultimately resign ourselves to working for an established organization, whether or not it manages to quench our thirst to learn or discover something new. The few people who do start working on their epiphanies, more often than not, give up mid-way.
Here are a few tips which may help you in your quest to become a successful entrepreneur. So, the next time you actually muster up the courage to give wings to your ideas, you can confidently start working on creating a successful startup, step by step.
- Know what you want: Before you jump onto the startup wagon, be sure of what you want. Whatever your ideas are, research about them in detail and ensure that you are on the right path. Learn new, suitable skills which compliment your plan so that you can be the best version of yourself.
- Make sure you are aware of what you are getting yourself into: Read up about the industry you are going to be a part of. Try figuring out the demand and market for your product and outline a target audience. Know your competitors so that you can work on coming out as the best in your field. Apart from working on your own product or idea, it is also important to keep track of what your competition is up to. Hard work is important but so is smart work, especially in today’s competitive market.
- Make a business plan: Chalk out how you are going to proceed with your startup. The first step is ideating, the next is pitching. Being able to make your stakeholders and sponsors realize that your product or idea is indeed worth investing is of utmost importance. Search for suitable funding-you could source it from your willing friends and family, resort to crowdfunding or approach a bigger organization to invest in your venture. Whatever you do, make sure you have it all drawn out and that you proceed in a systematic way. Learn how to make an effective business plan here.
- Select a location to give your powerhouse of ideas a foundation: Carry out surveys and engage in field work to decide on your startup’s location. This may be crucial, as a prominent location with easy access would lead to people noticing your establishment more, which leads to better publicity for your company, while an inconsequential location may restrict your rise to popularity.
- Map out the financials, make a budget: Try to identify things you really need to spend on and things that could be considered secondary. For example, if your startup is going to be IT-based you need to have proper computers, servers, etc., in order. Don’t overshoot your budget on mere whims and fancies and learn to prioritize. Bear in mind, without a proper budget, you might be shelling out way more than initially expected. Learn how to create a budget plan here.
- Coming up with a catchy, relevant moniker a.k.a. Name: You have your finances in place and have zeroed in on a location and now it is finally time for you to think about what name you’d like to be known by. Even though this may be regarded as a lesser important aspect, you need to keep in mind that it’s the name that sticks. After all, when you do become famous and successful, wouldn’t your startup’s name be your identity as well? Choose a relevant name, something that isn’t overly complicated but at the same time stands out. Tip: Make sure that this name is unique and no one else is using the name.
- Be clear about what you want from your employees: Don’t unnecessarily confuse those who work with you. If you want something to be done in a particular way let them know beforehand and avoid wasting their as well as your precious time. Outline the job description carefully so that there isn’t any overlapping of ideas or conflict amongst your workers. After all, “too many cooks, spoil the broth.”
- Employee-employer relationship: Hire people who are passionate about working to help build your product or service, people who understand your vision and share your organizational goal. Ensure that your work environment is friendly and without unnecessary constraints which may restrict an individual’s creativity. As a leader, make yourself approachable but not dismissable and promote healthy competition.
- Be accountable: To err is human, but being able to own up to your mistakes shows that you are a good leader. Instead of trying to pass the buck, own your mistakes and be accountable for any shortcomings the company faces in the market. Work your mistakes into assets and not liabilities – you’ll be surprised on how effective it’ll prove!
- Don’t give up, but know when to let go: You will face a lot of hurdles in the way of establishing your startup and it is important to remember to not give up at the first sign of trouble. Remind yourself why you wanted to do this in the first place. Be resilient. And lastly, be yourself and create your own distinct brand.
We keep hearing that most startups fail. But what about those which actually succeed and manage to get established? VComply Inc. is one such startup. The software, VComply, is now an internationally acclaimed GRC management tool and its biggest selling factor is its ease of usage. What began as a startup is now taking big strides into the GRC management sector and is on its way to becoming one of the most sought-after names in this sector.
With startups, it is all about putting yourself out there. The more popular you are, the greater the chance of success. And what is better than social media when it comes to publicity! Not just startups, but established companies as well, are making their mark in the industry with the help of social media. You can easily identify your customer base and reach out to many diverse sections of people far and wide, which would hardly be possible with perhaps the word-of-mouth technique or let’s say newspaper advertisements.
One of the critical factors a startup needs to take into account during its “seed-stage” is funding. As mentioned in the tips above, you need to plan out your finances, that too well in advance. You need to identify your sources and select carefully from amongst the various options available which majorly include crowd-funding options as well as angel investors.
In order to proceed on to something great, you need to leave something behind. A majority of the brilliant minds behind the most successful startups had a well paying cushy job, which they left behind to start an entire business establishment from scratch, putting in long hours of toil and sweat. In case you are looking for some much-needed inspiration, know this, a lot of the major business establishments in today’s world began their journey as startups. Uber (U.S.), Xiaomi (China), Airbnb (U.S.) and the much-discussed SpaceX (U.S.) are just some of the big names that started off as mere ideas in the minds of their eminent founders. Not to be left behind, Indian startups like Flipkart, Make My Trip and Zomato have successfully created a niche for themselves in the global market and the introduction of initiatives like “Startup India”, “Make in India”, “Digital India” etc., by the Indian government, has made India an extremely viable centre for setting up startups and will further propagate the startup culture in India.
While startups grantedly learn from the pre-established organizations, startups themselves too, have a lot to offer when it comes to workplace ethics and organizational values. People working together are encouraged to learn independently and are pushed to constantly brainstorm instead of merely sticking to preconceived notions and toiling day in and day out, mechanically meeting the set deadlines. The focus from hierarchy has shifted to individuality, which is rewarded, whereas, herd mentality is usually shunned. After all, if you’re just trying to glam up and resell something, are you really setting yourself apart as the next big thing in the business world?
Such campaigns encourage citizens to ideate, discuss and build. So if you’re looking for the perfect time to come up with your very own startup, mark my words, the time couldn’t have been better. RIGHT NOW is when you should start marinating your epiphanies and let your earthworm of an idea break free from its cocoon and take flight as a beautiful butterfly.
No one can predict success, but I can assure you that if you believe in yourself and keep these ten simple tips handy all the time, you will indeed emerge as a winner. Be unique, and don’t be afraid to the push the envelope as the wackiest of ideas may turn out to be the best. You really don’t need to be an IIT or IIM alumnus in order to head a successful startup. What you need is an idea and the perseverance and zeal to see it through till the end. Remember, there’s nothing holding you back except perhaps you, yourself. So are you ready to be the next Unicorn in the dynamic world of business?
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