5 Things you must do for your startup to succeed
India has the third largest startup base in the world, as per a report by NASSCOM. But, how many startups have lifted off the ground to become the next Facebook, Airbnb or Snapchat? As the popular phrase goes — 9 out of 10 startups fail — and there are numerous reasons for it including slow to no funding, low product demand, and tough completion. An entrepreneur’s journey isn’t easy, and to succeed in it, he/she needs to have some qualities that should come naturally. Let’s take a look at them, one by one.
#1 Know your Customer The overarching rule of successful startups — know your customer. Businesses that do not focus on customers will fail. Period! As a successful entrepreneur, you will know who are the potential customers, how to reach out to them and plan strategies to retain them. Moreover, understanding your target customers gives you an advantage of solving their problems, and essentially making changes in the services/product and make it a market fit. To achieve this, you will need to spend quality time on market research, studying changing patterns of consumer behaviours, buying habits, and the market size. Further research/analysis on factors such as gender, region/area, age groups and interests of your customers is also important. Customer satisfaction surveys are a great way to know how consumers responded to your products and services. Measuring customer satisfaction helps bring valuable insights. For instance, it helps with customer onboarding i.e. introducing new customers. However, always remember, customer retention is cheaper than acquiring new customers. Proactive support, customer follow-ups, frequent assessments and personalized experiences help customers have a positive experience. New customers can be gained via recommendation from the older ones.
#2 Stay Updated “It is not the strongest or the most intelligent who will survive but those who can best manage change.” ― Leon C. Megginson In the fast changing ecosystem, companies need to evolve and adapt quickly to the consumer needs. Companies that do not adapt will fail. We’ve seen powerful ones like Nokia, Blackberry and Kodak wither away, nothing could save them, not even their large base of loyal consumers. For instance, Kodak, a 124-year-old manufacturer who ruled the photography world for decades had to file for bankruptcy in 2012. Its customer base soon moved ahead and away from the traditional films and cameras towards the digital era. For startups, innovation is even more important. A study by IBM highlights that 90% of Indian startups fail within the first five years due to lack of innovation. Consumers are fickle-minded, so it is important for you to understand how customers perceive and interact with the industry and anticipate their expectations for the future. So, pay attention to trends, stay updated with the latest technologies, keep an eye on competition and do not indulge in too much procrastination.
#3 Impose self-discipline “If you do not conquer self, you will be conquered by self.” — Napoleon Hill Self-discipline is the foundation of success and something you must follow and impose. In the current digital age, you need to excel physically, mentally and emotionally. This can be done through discipline. It’s the ability to continuously accomplish tasks by doing what you have to do without getting deterred by your emotional state. For instance, while working for yourself, it is important to stick to the working hours and not push tasks to the next day. A person can really stand out in the crowd just by being punctual and committing to deadlines. On the other hand, it is quite easy to get stuck in the cycle of delays. So, do not underestimate tardiness. Similarly, it is important to identify and retain individuals who respect disciplined collaboration. They can be valuable assets and will work towards your goal of making your startup successful. It helps you decide ahead of task, manage budget without going overboard, force yourself to stick to the schedule, achieve goals, and have a good work-life balance.
#4 Manage budget Whether bootstrapped or funded, we don’t need to emphasise on what an important role budget plays in building a startup. It ensures that your business has a future. But, it is also important to control the cashflow and plan your budget prudently. Some common mistakes are assuming a large funding can suffice and cover all expenses. No! Planned budgeting and controlled expenditure can ensure that. Do not get caught in a debt trap. It is often seen that a business can flourish while accruing debt, but the tables are turned as soon as you have to start repaying off the debt. In a nutshell, track your expenses and avoid overspending. So, get good at budgeting or at least take help of someone who is. A set budget will help you focus better.
#5 Network and connect with the right mentors Always remember, there is no one-size-fits-all process. One has to keep adapting to changes and will often face many first-time scenarios. This is when a mentor comes to the rescue, typically someone who has been in a similar position and waded through many successes and failures in his or her entrepreneurial journey. The mentor may not give a perfect solution to your problem, but help you think differently to solve the same problem. A mentor will honestly evaluate your idea and also help you deal with your successes and failures on a personal level. Moreover, mentors can assist you to reach out to others who may play a significant role in your journey. Arguably, professional networking is becoming a crucial part of business development. Networking can help you meet investors, expand your team, get brand exposure and most importantly discover new clients and opportunities, and new influencers. Your grit and hard work will take you places, but being surrounded by the right people will be instrumental to build a sustainable business model.