5 Ways to Launch a Startup Without Building it From Scratch
Entering a startup laterally is synergetic – you can begin contributing to a startup that's already off the ground and the startup will benefit from your skills and will grow better and faster
If there's one thing that excites most people today, especially the young and technologically savvy, it's the word startup. Everyone seems to be in search of the perfect answer to the question: how to launch a startup.
Some folks drop out of college to launch startups, others take up the special course to turn entrepreneurs while still others seek mentors and angel investors to make sure their startup gets off the ground the right way.
While it's thrilling to build a startup from the ground up, it sure takes a great deal of time and resources. As a result, people also look for ways to launch a startup but in a smarter way. Naturally, launching a startup without having to build it from zero has its own merits and own challenges and it's fun in its own way.
We present 5 ways to launch a startup without building it from scratch.
1. Buy an existing business and leverage the brand
Irrespective of profitability, people often sell their businesses. Some sell their business because they want to retire. Others do it because they want to follow some other passion.
Hence, you'll see many businesses up for sale. They are one of your best bets to launch a startup without having to build from scratch.
With the business, you also buy their brand equity. That means you're already sitting on something that's already proven, no matter how big or small.
Do you have to continue the same line of business? Not at all. You can diversify into an allied business while keeping the core brand promise intact.
One of my neighbours bought a small bistro in the neighbourhood. He saw that the space was too small to become a major business enterprise. So he used part of the kitchen to make some awesome premium pastries and in about three quarters, he broke even.
2. Play the mentor to an early stage startup
Another great way to launch a startup without building it from zero is to mentor a startup that's past the initial phase.
While almost all startuppers are energetic, many of them do not have an ongoing access to resources that help sustain and grow the startup.
Just look around and you'll find a handful of startups that are either struggling or aren't growing at the pace they deserve. It'd be a great idea to narrow down this list to see which ones can benefit most from your skills.
You don't have to be the final authority in town to help take the startup to the next stage. It's about filling a void, serving an area the startup needs help with. Maybe the startup isn't great at marketing. Maybe the startup needs someone who can build financial discipline. Maybe the startup is not growing because they don't have the team-building skills. See what problem your skills can solve.
Entering a startup laterally is synergetic – you can begin contributing to a startup that's already off the ground and the startup will benefit from your skills and will grow better and faster.
3. Solve the Problem Your Organization is struggling with
You have probably heard how some great companies began as a side hustle. They're the perfect evidence of how brilliant ideas with great execution bloom into giant enterprises.
There's yet another way you can build a startup without having to go through the pain of finding your first customer.
If you're working in an organization, you probably have come across a few areas that the company isn't able to find good service providers for. Maybe your organization isn't happy with the agency that repairs and maintains the company's computers. Maybe the graphic design agency your organization outsources work to sucks.
Other problems could be more ground-level and non-technical. Perhaps your colleagues aren't happy with the kind of food the nearby joints provide. Perhaps the janitorial service leaves a lot to be desired….
If you can solve any of these problems, you're blessed. When you launch a startup that addresses one of these problems, you already have a client even before you come up with a name for your startup!
Among the many advantages of launching a startup like this is that you not only understand the problem closely but also know where the current solution falls short. That way, you are saved from the numerous iterations you'd otherwise need to get the perfect the solution.
4. Adopt a Project at an Incubation Centre
Governments the world around are actively building support systems to encourage and nurture startups. Universities, organizations, non-profits and angel investors are helping set up incubation centres for startups.
Incubation centres will already have provided the necessary ground for the startup to germinate.
These incubation centres are a great place to check out. There could be startups that are struggling to break a certain growth barrier, or their original enthusiasm has waned or maybe they were outpaced by some other company, leaving them clueless.
Your timely intervention could help such a startup. Since, by definition, the startup spirit is already there and since they've already experienced some pain, they understand ground realities better. As a result, they'll value your participation a great deal better.
If you feel you could provide them with the right direction or contribute meaningfully, adopt a startup at the incubation centre. Since they're already connected to the incubation centre, they already have access to some of the basic infrastructure. Your skills could come as a shot in the arm at the right time.
5. Buy Equity in a Friend's Startup
Today, the startup ecosystem is so rich everybody's got a friend or a relative who has a startup. Joining them could be a great idea, provided you and the startupper agree on all the basics.
To begin with, you must understand that knowing people behind the startup isn't enough reason to join hands. Your ideologies should match. Following a few meetings, you should have a clear agreement on where the startup is heading to and how fast it will reach there.
Importantly, you should feel as passionate and excited as the startup team. And equally important, either party should know what value the other is bringing.
If you think the startup ticks all the boxes, you can buy equity in the startup. That way, you'll be growing a startup that's already past its early days.