It’s easier and cheaper to start a company than ever before, yet it’s tougher than ever to survive. Here are a few tips on how to brave the storm:
What an idea!
It is really very important to have a unique idea in a world as competitive as ours. There are already a lot of established players in the market who won’t let you flourish if your idea is generic and is affecting their business in any way. You really need to carve a niche for yourself in order to survive.
Communication is key
This is where successful startups take a leap- Team Communication. It is absolutely vital for your business. Even if you have a genius idea which can take your product to new heights, but if you can’t communicate it to your team, the results will always be an unpleasant surprise.
Good Design is Good Business
Design is not just what it looks like and feels like. Design is also,how it works. A good design is an integral part of your business which helps you stand out from the competition. It helps you create an identity and communicates it well to the customers and clients, that increases the likelihood of your brand being remembered by them. Also, we cannot miss the fact that a good design helps you make the sale. In the design world, generic does nothing for your business.
Put on your glasses!
Most startups have Myopia, where they can only concentrate on their own products/services. But others have travelled that road already; else it wouldn’t be a ‘market’. You need to learn not only from the failures of your competitors but also their success.
Where do you stand?
Startups prosper in some cities and not in others. In India, Pune, Mumbai and Bangalore are the most startup friendly cities. It's an interesting question why cities become startup hubs, but the reason startups prosper in them is probably the same as it is for any industry: that's where the experts are. Standards are higher; people are more sympathetic to what you're doing; the kind of people you want to hire want to live there; supporting industries are there.
No Assholes Allowed! Absolutely none!!
‘The No Asshole Rule: Building a Civilized Workplace and Surviving One That Isn't’ is a book by Stanford professor Robert I. Sutton, based on a popular essay he wrote for the Harvard Business Review.
The book states that bullying behavior in the workplace worsens morale and productivity. So, make sure you are not hiring any assholes for your startup as it would do you no good. A few successful companies to follow this policy are, Gold’s Gym, Barclays Capital, Mozilla (Firefox), Gilllete, Gold Corp and many more.
You are not Superman!
A leader does not need to be perfect all the time. You might just be trying to be strong and brave but it comes off as inauthentic. Don’t flaunt your failures, but hiding them is totally unnecessary. We are all human. We understand.
Build your culture, don’t obsess over it!
Perks at work like free lunches, friday night parties are an interesting window dressing for a startup, but not the core thing that will take you ahead. It all sounds good in an interview but you should only do it if they’re genuinely a part of your own values and the company DNA that you aspire to be.
Are you fast enough?
What has been done is good. This means that with a plenty of time and money you can shoot for excellence but it never works for startups in the long run. In other words, it’s quality and not quantity that’s going to be the name of the game. You need to set up goals but leave alone the last 2% of excellence. It’s an indulgence.
Startup Marketing is all about experimentation and educated guesses. It’s all about constant iteration. Everything from product pricing to the color of your website, can be tried, tested and changed depending on the feedback. You don’t want to sound indecisive when you say you are experimenting, instead you can say that you are on pilot.
Technology to the rescue!
This is the best time to be starting a business. There are a lot of apps available that help you manage your business better, for example-
- Slack: for project status and instant messaging
- Zendesk: for excellent customer service
- Nutshell: A great CRM app
- Zoho Docs: Safely dump proprietary sensitive document and many more. You can use them to your advantage and they definitely don’t burn your pocket.
Stop half-assing it!
Startup ideas don’t work as a side project. I am not saying that it is impossible to start a startup on the side. Even though it’s not impossible to have a startup on the side, it’s hard to find an investor who wants to invest in something that you don’t do all the time. It always works this way.
Time and tide wait for none!
Don’t wait till the last moment for someone to grab your market and attract your customers, launch as soon as the basic functionalities are fulfilled.
Don’t fool yourself!
Nobody can do two things great. You don’t have the time, money, or resources to figure out the product-market fit for more than one product. It is always tempting to try to follow new opportunities that come up, but don’t fool yourself! You can’t be great executing two go-to-market strategies at once. The split focus will mean you will be at best mediocre, but probably terrible at both. If you really think the new opportunity is better, pivot the company and go all in.