Running A Startup: Things you should keep in mind all the time.
Who are the startup guys these days? This is an era of coding, If you are an excellent coder chances are you will succeed with your own App, product or company.
When you will look at me I am absolutely a different person. I am a marketing guy, an MBA by education, having worked at 3 different continents and after working for few global organisations got a chance to meet a lot of startups. I am no different that a normal corporate person who worked 9-6 for a living and then one fine day got bugged and jumped into coding and began a startup. What are the chances that i would have succeeded, may be 10% or less than that.
Struggled, succeeded to some extent, never made losses, never invested too much, always cash flow positive and you will think wow everything is fine with this company, yet I had to close the venture I started. Learnt some lessons here and also when i interacted with startups and after having my own venture, this might help if you are just out of campus or corporate life on what to focus on.
I have been a product manager for most part of the my corporate life, I work on simple logic and ask simple questions, if the answer to most questions is No, I refuse to work on the product or I shall give inputs to refine the product before we take to market. There are more than product questions you should answer when you start on your own. Here is the mix of things i would rate on top priority for any new venture.
(Image by hackNY.org, www.flickr.com)
1. Whatís your Business case:
Nothing works without a relevant business case. You need ultimately your idea to get accepted and get funded, well then you will need the business case to support your claims ??
Doesn't work backwards most of the the time, that if the product getís accepted and then we will find the business case. It happens only with Ideas which went viral like Facebook or have potential to go viral like lately Periscope an app for streaming video from your phone which is acquired by Twitter. Never work for getting funded, Work for to get your product accepted, funding will follow.
2. Cash flow is important in fact very important.
When you run a company the most important factor is cash flow, you need to fund your project, pay salaries, Incentives, coffee, travel and more. What is your cash flow every month ? You need to start generating revenues as early as 3 months or 6 months. Getting revenues is core of the success of the app. You cannot sustain if you keep on burning cash. When you launch a product think how soon it will start giving returns.
(Image by Startup Mena, www.flickr.com)
3. Choose a right mentor
Most people on the top of the corporate ladder may not know the business you do, some may not appreciate and some cannot guide. You need to opt for one who gives you the right advice and who is as passionate for the idea to succeed as you. One who is ready with work with you to open doors and help you succeed without asking for returns. Help is important and more important if it comes from the right people.
(Image by hackNY.org, www.flickr.com)
4. Few Conferences is important
Conferences, Meet up groups are important, only where when you meet possible customers or you pick up awards. Tapping a right person is conference is far easy than getting his time in office. so never neglect the right meetings.
5. Connection matters
Start at the top end. The more people you know at top the more it helps. Things when flow down top to bottom, it flows faster.Pitch your products to CXOs, CEO and CMOís. It will help you succeed much faster and you will get good referrals too.
6. Choose a passionate team.
People who are ready to work with you day and night. you give them a call at 2 pm and find that these guys are working too, Isn't that amazing. Drop people if they work only when they are told to. Self initiative is key to success in a start up. you are not running a big firm, internal motivation is the fire which will keep you walking the path, with the right team it helps.
I kept on taking tough business decisions such as holding on incentives to maintain the cash flow and when everyone in the team worked for that motivation only, when people donít see what you see you are not setting up a good leadership example. While I worked for long term the team saw quick buck. know your team and know them very well.
7. Idea is not the key, success is:
You donít to get an Idea successful, you have to become successful. Separate the two, donít be the the idea, donít own it. Donít keep your idea so close to you that you donít listen to what market is saying. If your idea is not getting accepted may be it is ahead of time or may be something else will work better, or may be you need to drop it to try something else.
8. Presentation skills Matters:
Met so many startups, mentored few of them as well. All are very good engineers but poor at Presentation skills. When you cannot make good presentations, you cannot pick cash rewards since you cannot explain. you cannot win funding or win client orders since you will be bad at communicating. So take help of friends who are at consulting or your mentor or someone with great creative skills.
Ending with the famous quote from the movie Batman begins.
Henri Ducard: But if you make yourself more than just a man, if you devote yourself to an ideal, and if they can't stop you, then you become something else entirely.
Bruce Wayne: Which is?
Henri Ducard: Legend, Mr. Wayne. Legend.
About the Author: Chandan mishra is a startup mentor and marketing consultant. [email protected]:
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