Lessons In Entrepreneurship From a Small Town Startup Whether you are in the Silicon Valley, the UK, bustling Indian metro city, or a small town, you can create a viable startup

By Shashank Vaishnav

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Entrepreneurship—this word symbolizes so many dreams and aspirations, so many stories of success and struggle, ups and downs but at last a story that every entrepreneur would want to share. It doesn't matter how big or small the startup is or where it is based out of as long as it is impacting lives positively and at ground level. And I say this from experience, given that I have worked not just across India but also on international grounds.

Whether you are in the Silicon Valley, the UK, bustling Indian metro city, or a small town, you can create a viable startup. So many aspiring entrepreneurs have come up to me and asked if it is recommended and even possible to build something from the ground up if one is based in the culturally diverse small towns of India. And I have always said that if your business offering or solution is actually solving a real and existing problem, geographical constraints do not matter in this Internet-first world.

All of us who reside or grew up in small towns with aspirations and dreams to build something for Bharat and its audience have access to enough resources and opportunities to convert our dreams into realities and witness results, in today's day and age. The trick lies in identifying them and making the best use of them. Hence, sharing some lessons from my entrepreneurial journey of building a content platform for Bharat from a small town.

Your business plan needs a problem statement

The number one cause of business failure is not being able to identify the real need in the market. Every successful company starts by solving an important problem. That is what your core value proposition will depend on. Your investors and stakeholders will also be gauging the impact you are going to make and that cannot be defined unless you are working towards solving an existing problem. It also holds the key to being a scalable and sustainable startup and makes your business plan ten times more effective.

It needs more than funds to succeed and has nothing to do with geographical constraints

Whether you have the capability to bootstrap the idea or have a league of investors to back you up, money is an important and high priority to get you going. But it's not the only decisive factor for your success. There are several, basic yet very relevant, ingredients to cooking up a sustainable offering. It's a given that you need to have knowledge of the market and industry you are going to operate in, but it is equally necessary to have mentors that can help you predict trends and opportunities before other players in the ecosystem leverage the same. Organizational values and a team that feels equally passionate about your mission gets you closer to your success metric. Your impact on society—whether through your offering or the jobs you are creating—adds credibility to your brand perception and sustainability. Last but not least is a back-up or exit plan. As an entrepreneur in this highly competitive world of startups, you have to take smart risks, but you also need to have a back-up plan to ensure that you are still sustainable even if the risk backfires, hence, we call it "smart risk'. Thanks to the Internet and Zoom calls, approaching stakeholders for meetings, building a company and jobs are no longer constrained by your presence in metros.

You should be comfortable with discomfort

Setting up and growing your business is hectic. No one ever said it was going to be easy. It is a demanding role but worth every sweat you drip, literally, when you see it going in a fruitful direction. So, be comfortable with discomfort or fear. You are working towards a future, something you haven't yet seen, it's bound to create some anxieties. But as long as you are using that creatively to build your startup, it will pay off.

We built STAGE leveraging our small-town stories and experiences. Creating content for the Internet audience does not mean we need to be based in Delhi or Mumbai. Our audience resides in all parts of the country, thanks to the increasing internet and smartphone adoption.

Never give up

Much like the stages in human life, there are stages in an entrepreneur's life as well. Each stage is loaded up with obstacles, pushing the entrepreneur's soul to hide or bite the dust. Yet, there's a promising finish to the present action, a signal that gradually and consistently changes gear toward progress. One ought not to be excessively forceful as far as making progress. Learn from the struggles and determination of the likes of Paytm which was not effective right from the start, it took time to make it successful. Pokemon Go founders labored for a long time before their game was global phenomena. Hence, entrepreneurs ought to show restraint, it takes some effort to construct a fruitful brand. They ought to never surrender and be focused on their vision and mission.

Always stay ahead of the market; Experiment

Innovation is the key. Whether you are sitting in the Silicon Valley or in Indore, building an Internet startup or a hardware shop, you have to keep up with the trends to stay ahead of other players. While metros or business hubs have experienced multiple business models and their services, there are a plethora of options to be explored in small towns as well as learn from consumer behavior.

Importance of accelerators & incubators

Be open to help. Often entrepreneurs think they have it under control, while they might have most of it, there are several considerations. This is where accelerators and incubators come in. Seasoned founders talk about their experience and help you build your company from scratch. Whether it's understanding the market trends, finding the right resources, or being at the right place at the right time, they help you find the correct path. And the best part is, you can be based out of any part of the world, and seek guidance from the experts.

Every entrepreneur has his or her own journey to make and eventually will have their own learnings. But it is important to share and help budding entrepreneurs, learn from each other, and contribute to the entrepreneurial ecosystem at large.

Shashank Vaishnav

Co-founder & CTO, WittyFeed

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