A short business narrative (of a 3 min read) that sets the context, challenge(s) faced, the type of leadership involved and the questions to ponder about, to solve for the issues. This is not to give answers; for business & life in general is not like a school-guide-book. This column is to provoke the reader to think more. And to sensitise that each individual or organisation are unique, and the answers would depend on the situation, difference in organisational culture, context, etc
To question, is to think. To think, is to introspect. To introspect, is to seek. To seek, is to be aware. To be aware, is when the journey begins.
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Every day more and more startups are being founded. Some are being created because of an idea that the Founder has. Some are being developed because few friends think it is cool to do so. Some also have a robust business plan. Some simply want to be their own boss. Probably only 25 percent of all those startups survive the first 5 years of business existence.
Learn the business
Simply having an idea won’t be enough. It has to be translated into a business that can bring in revenues. The founders have to understand business ecosystem, existing competition, consumer needs, and bring these learnings to their idea.
Don’t wait for perfection
–Are you tempted to wait till your product offering is the most perfect?
–Well, how long will that take?
–How much of potential opportunities will you let go for such a wait?
–Do your consumers really want an excellent product or the perfect product?
–Have you tried out the product with consumer cohort or is it all simply an idea?
Feedback from consumers
–Are you in love with your idea?
–But do your potential consumers love your idea?
–Do they love your product?
–Unless you hear from the consumers, what’s the point in making a revenue plan?
–Get feedback from potential consumers. Let them critique your idea. Let them find issues with your solutions. That’s how you can shape your idea into the business offering.
Respect cash flows
Learn about your cash flows. In your business, when you are spending money daily, and when you are yet to have steady revenues, you are in effect burning cash.
The ability to have a sustainable positive cash flow is what that separates many startups that succeed to those which might have had great ideas but could not execute. Looking at many successful startups, they have acquired clients even in the product development phase. Importantly, they sought supplier payment terms longer than their client's payment cycle.
Co founders & core team
When you partner up to start your venture, your relationship with your co-founder(s) will be the basis of your venture. Every day, your rapport will be tested. Do you have the absolute trust, and comfort in being yourself with your co-founder? It is in this answer that your relationship gets built.
–Do you know why you signed up with a co-founder?
–Was it for subject matter expertise?
–Was it also for the value system that (s)he brings to the venture?
–Importantly, have you identified and articulated your roles, responsibilities, equity stakes and authority within the venture?
–Who will be responsible for what. It is that clarity that sets apart successful founding teams from the rest.
Pitching for capital & customers
You will receive many “no”, before you find the right and relevant funding. It would take you months of constant pitches, regular meetings and calls, product demos. It is infact the sale of your idea!
With many such pitches, your presentation will keep evolving. There is nothing achieved by looking at other ventures who might have got funded in their very first meeting. Focus on your capabilities, your big picture, and articulate how you plan to achieve that.
Failing is okay
–Fail sometimes, so you can learn a lesson from it.
–Fail fast. Which means you need to get your ideas into testing mode as quickly as possible. That’s the only way market acceptance can be gauged.
–It is okay to fail. Failure is not the end of your journey. Not everything goes according to plan. But it is your attitude about failure, that will shape you. Pick up lessons from each failure and shape your next steps.
Just remember - you are the only one who can achieve your dreams. It cannot be outsourced.
Also Read: Coach-Soch: When founders feel an emptiness
— The author, Srinath Sridharan is a Corporate Adviser and Independent Markets Commentator. For other articles in the Coach Soch series, click here