How to Kick Start Your Startup
A five-step guide of what to do before sitting on the entrepreneur's seat
Before evaluating your SWOT analysis, several months prior to creating the PESTLE model, countless decks before the seed funding, followed by Series A (B, C, you get the gist), there's a lot more a founder needs to establish before calling himself and his plan of action, a startup!
Here are steps you can count on your fingertips on how to kick start your startup:
Think, speak, act - I remember being guided by Mr. Narayana Murthy (Co-founder, Infosys) regarding the first step about entrepreneurship and his words paved a steady path to my decision-making. 'When you begin, ask yourself, if you don't do what you're doing, who will miss out?'
The courage to begin should always be followed up with the stamina to sustain and the perseverance to grow.
Sketch with a pencil before using a marker - The greatest artists in the world began with an outline. The most successful companies test their beta and the same should go for you. Bounce your ideas with your ex-boss, colleague, mentor, strangers on the road. Anyone and everyone who could be a suitable user. Interacting with your competition isn't a blasphemous idea either. Stick with your vision but learn from what they are doing well.
Meeting people is a must. While some claim it takes 10,000 repetitions to perfect a skill, it takes lesser cups of much needed coffee to obtain primary research.
- Dip your feet before scuba diving - Research means nothing if it isn't implemented and there's no bet, like a safe bet! Stemming from the point above, a proof of concept (PoC) and a beta test is a must do.
The pHrase 'all in or nothing' isn't always applicable. Especially to an entrepreneur with reserved resources.
100% conviction will arise when the remaining 1% apprehension is taken care of. No entrepreneur is willing to swallow the scenario of 'What if I did that', and for the same reason, you can take a smaller (and more controlled) plan out to a market you have control in.
(Think of the movie - 'Honey I shrunk the kids' and apply this method for your PoC!
Question but don't doubt - Try pulling the handle for a door with one hand, while pushing it with the other. Doubting yourself while working is as counter-productive as this action.
While it's easy to say 'when the going gets tough, the tough get going', the reality is very different. Introspection beyond a certain point will always concoct more questions in your mind than answers. So, it's best to reach out to your team members, potential customers and mentors, during this phase.
Voicing your apprehensions is the best way to tackle what really might be the problem and what you believe is the problem.
Grow - The journey of an entrepreneur is of constant growth. Through the uphill battles, the muscles (in this case, the brains) strength to endure any hard work through the age-old recipe of working hard.
So, in order to kick start, every entrepreneur should remember to GROW.
G - Guides are needed for any new adventure you set upon yourself. Find a guide in the form of a mentor. A mentor is a sounding board. Much like the support wheels on your bicycles when you were a child. You have to do the work while they are beside you to guide the way by narrating and not dictating methods. A mentor goes a long way for a startup, from their first days of inception, to the first days of every evolution.
R - Resources are necessary in any business, and this brings us capital. The goal should always be to use your own pool of capital before raising funds. Simple, to create more value of your venture from ground up. However, in the case you are raising, don't just go looking for funds but opt for smart capital.
To know the difference in capital and smart capital - rather than searching for a mentor in an investor, seek an investor in your mentor. Capital in itself can only go as far as you can take it.
O - Onboard not employees but co-founders. This doesn't have to be literal co-founders but hiring others who take ownership in your startups, as though it is theirs too. It's easy to smile when things are looking up. However, bring onboard such coworkers who will feel the pinch, as hard as you do and strive to mend it, as tirelessly as you will.
To find owners in your coworkers, you will need to trust them, and this will come through responsible delegation.
W - Work hard now and work hard later. Simple because this startup is a dream that has kept you up at night, and it's yours to nurture. So, while you work, and times get tough remember why you started in the first place and most importantly, enjoy the journey.
Balance (a tip to stop you from tipping off the edge) - When sleep tends to get in your way, that's when you know you're a serial entrepreneur. Stay focused but remember just like your devices, even you need to learn how to shut down.
A healthy business needs a healthier founder. While 24 hours in a day seem insufficient, give yourself a breather.
Being an entrepreneur is a lonely journey, entrepreneurship doesn't need to be, so don't make your venture everything. Make time for those who are a motivation for your hard work.
Entrepreneurship is like building a light bulb while sitting in a dark room. But once you construct the correct bulb, you don't stop once you light the room but choose to enter several more darker rooms. That's what makes entrepreneurship a journey and an entrepreneur an adventurer.