Practical Startup guide
The Startup and Entrepreneur are the new trendy words we hear it nowadays. The idea of a startup is to be creative, innovative and embrace the diversity of opinions for a product or the platform. The entrepreneur is the leader as well as the manager who has a knack of solving the problem in most effective way. The startup is a unique work culture which is difficult to emulate in a big company where the specifications are ready, end user’s expectation is locked and blueprint of the project is prefixed. Hence, the startup is a different ball game than a traditional service based company. It’s a fancy thing to say, I work in a startup or I am the founder of XXXXXX startup. We all know success stories of Alibaba, Uber, Airbnb, Flipkart, Ola, PayTM, SpaceX and many more.
But then, there is a different side of a startup which people tend to overlook or ignore in the galore of flashy news. It can be shocked to know that more than 80-90% startup shuts down within a couple of years. It’s a highly competitive field where success and failure could be seen in the very short span if you are not being careful about it. I was involved in a startup and have learned few things from the close vantage point. The very first thing I learned is possibly the most important of all, and every startup guy would fully appreciate. : Basic income is about basic security.
1. Focus on Building a team not just product
Most people will tell you, the first thing you need for a startup is the mind blowing Idea. Once you have a great idea, rest is easy. I would slightly disagree and suggest, the first thing you need for a startup is a great team. If you have a great team, there are more chances you will be successful than having a good idea.We have many examples around us, take Facebook or PayTM or Uber or Flipkart. There didn’t start with the great idea rather most of these ideas were already existed but the passionate team, doing the right things at the right time made them unicorn business house from small garage start-up. We all know, Flipkart was an online e-book store when they started but as they progressed, they build up their business into e-commerce giant, same with the PayTM. The product or the idea will change as you go forward but the great team should not. Hence, I believe, the building a team is more important than just focusing on implementing a great idea. There are many examples of great products got failed because as a lack of a great team.
2. Failure is inevitable but realize it fast
In India, the ratio of startup failure is quite high and it is okay. But failure is hard to accept. As a result, I keep reading the startup team put their time and efforts relentlessly. After spending, few years you are still nowhere, it’s high time to move on. You may well survive but survival shouldn’t be the only aim for the startup. People shouldn’t stick into something just because they have given their blood and sweat to their work. The realisation of failure is more important than the actual failure. The startup is a very competitive space and if you don’t have the stamina to absorb failure and move on to next idea then you are in the wrong field. It’s better to find a comfy 9-5 job.
3. Trust actions, not words!
When you start your company, you are putting all your eggs into one basket, taking a risky career move thinking you are going to create next WhatsApp or PayTM or Instagram or UBER or Alibaba. Hence, your inner circle, your co-founder becomes your support system. But you should not let your emotion overpower you. Be professional in your work but don’t get blinded thinking somebody else will take care of your interest. This is a capital market, sooner or later most people look after their own interest first. So be in command of your work else you will end-up loosing the life long friendship and trust. When you are starting out, everything looks rosy but once you hit the hurdle, your true test starts. The people you think, you can count on will be tested. So My advice to everyone, stay clear in your expectation so you won’t get bitter if things don’t workout the way you wanted. In the end, we are all responsible for our actions but don’t be blinded by harsh reality. It’s important to have a dream for your startup but Blind trust between co-founders can be fatal for your startup dream and career both.
4. Be realist
I often heard many co-founder saying, but we have built the greatest technical product or this is the greatest idea on planet earth, sooner or later people will understand or we shouldn’t give up that easily etc; Most things sounds reasonable to keep the spirit up but when things are not working out, be realist to your company and in your expectation. The market is getting penetrated with millions of apps and product every year so realise your standing in the market. Simply because of the nature of the area you are in, you can’t afford to have a luxury of few years building a great product and then, think about how you are going to sell to the market. I agree with many co-founders, the reason they are in the startup to realise their passion or dream, my argument is just get lost into it. Just open your eyes and face the reality, may be the next opportunity is waiting for you. It’s difficult to start from the scratch but that’s the thrill of this place.
5. Be cautious, but don’t over analyses
One of the major issues I find, people are over analytical in everything they do. It may be because of fear or failure but be courageous. I Have seen startups being too much analytical of the situation, they spend their maximum time on either perfecting the solution or boosting their ego in their little mind. See, most startups create products which are about adding value to the consumer’s day to day experience especially when your end users ranges from college graduate to homemaker to professional managers. When you are dealing with such a universal market, your only focus should be to reach out to them. If you don’t do that then you are most likely to stay behind and eventually get lost in this cut throat competition. The most startup would agree with me, it’s once thing to have a superior technical product but entirely different ball game once you are reaching out to your end users. Most successful startups are not the most technically superior start up but the startup whom has the courage to pitch their product to end users in scalable nature.
Thinking too much leads to paralysis by analysis. It’s important to think things through, but many use thinking as a means of avoiding action.
― Robert Herjavec
6. Don’t be a slave to your co-founder
Be honest, be transparent. I have seen people falling into the trap of agreeing to everything. One of the common mistakes, team tend to agree with one person thinking he can’t go wrong. It could be due to the fact that any kind of dissent is not appreciated. I would say for the betterment of the company you don’t have to agree with your co-founders on every issue, have an opinion (even if your other team members do not agree with you) but never compromised on the healthy discussion. Even if it makes you odd in the entire team. You don’t want to be sheep who follows his master. Raise your concerns in an honest manner and be open to accepting your mistakes as it’s bound to happen.
7. Lastly, try to complement each other – not clone each other
One of the major reason I hear or read from many startups, people want to create clone of each other, most senior member of the team think, other team members should follow him and become like him which is a startup killer. If you want to create a clone, open a laboratory. We are living in the world where idol worship or following one person is quite common. It’s important to learn from smart people but doesn’t get over influence by it where you stop hearing your own instinct. You are a part of the team because of your strength and capability as a team member. If that’s not the case, you are not required in the team. Embrace diverse skills of the individuals, many research suggests, the team likely to get more successful in the diverse background then entire team having the same background.