Starting your own business has never seemed more cool or exciting than right about now. Everyone wants to do a startup and raise a million dollars! It’s a good dream to have; it’s also probably never been easier to get investors to believe in half-baked ideas that might one day find a mass audience. The problem lies in the vision. Let me explain, any idea that a person believes in seems exciting. We now tend to fall so much in love with this idea and that all sense of practicality fails to reach us and there is reason feeling guaranteed success! The idea only seems to be missing the fuel of money and funding seems to be the one sole goal for the entrepreneur. Now, I hate to shatter this dream but funding or money isn’t the secret to success. Startups like Food Panda, FabFurnish, TinyOwl, Housing.com, and many others are proof of this. I follow startups, VCs’, rounds of funding very closely because it’s very important to understand market trends, mistakes and what has been done right. While everyone obsesses overvaluations in the words of the Softbank’s President Nikesh Arora, “To live up to these valuations, there is a need for perfect execution!” So stop being a romantic and falling in love with ideas. Be passionate but practical because, in the end, the only thing that matters is execution! I will be writing a part two to this real soon about what a startup should focus on.
Humans are social animals; we interact with each other, share information, opinions, and experiences. It’s with this interaction that we build relationships, relationships that are the building blocks of a community and a society. A community is a group of individuals who share a set of common values and beliefs, and so is an organization. Here is a list to make the point that, if you don’t understand people, you can’t understand business. 1. Meeting People Despite all the technological revolution you still have to interact with people in person, you have to be there to carry out the business, and when all your customers, colleagues, employees are human it becomes very important to understand people if you want to understand business. Understanding people involves studying the way people work, their individual styles, what attitudes and perceptions they bring to work, how they interact with a team and the nature of their hopes, dreams, and desires. 2. People = Business Have you ever heard of people less business? Neither have we. People are what you build your business around. When you understand them better, you understand your business better. When you are good at understanding your company’s and customer’s needs and concern, it shows. You can work on your business plan better to make it work, and your plans are more optimized to produce the end product 3. Understanding Builds Trust You don’t trust strangers, do you? You just can’t. Yet building trust is the most crucial aspect of doing business, just knowing that a person is good at doing something doesn’t build trust it builds reliability and appreciation. To trust someone you need to know that person. You must understand the person you work with in order to trust them, which results in better work. 4. They Influence You Remember how your mother used to warn you about bad influence when you were young? Her words are still true. The people you surround yourself with influence your behavior and decisions. The kind of people you collaborate with influences the work culture of your organization, and they influence the way your company conducts itself. 5. Understanding Improves Teamwork Understanding each other is one of the key ingredients in buildings a great soccer team, and a company is not much different. Your colleagues are your teammates. Understanding people you work with helps you to work better as a team and in turn amplify your strengths and make up for the weaknesses. ‘People’ do you get it? That’s the whole point.
In the last few blogs, I was talking about the responsibilities that you have as an entrepreneur. However, entrepreneurs solely cannot run a company. There are many factors that drive the business ahead. Of course, as a leader, you must know what are those attributes that help you go further with your goals. *Goals! Remember your goals for the company are not only yours, they belong to your employees as well* Identify those attributes and their roles, know where they fit in and their potentials. Hire people for their passion and commitment first, experience second and credentials third. There’s no shortage of CVs out there, but find those who have the same interest as yours. Ask them the right questions: What do you love the most about your chosen career? What course interested you in school? What’s your motivation? What do you expect from your career? Have an idea of what your potential employee believes in! As you choose the right employees, meet them, sit with them to discuss what is going well and what isn’t. It’s important to note your success, but it’s as important to analyze your weakness and losses at the same time. It takes a rich workplace culture to identify when things go around well and resolve the issues. Communication does not just mean talking, but also equally stress upon listening. A fertile culture grows around people who listen to what happens beyond the walls. What is trending in the market? What developments are going on, which can or cannot affect us? What does the target audience prefer? *Employees are a part of the same audience* Traditional workplace fashion is just so mainstream and monotonous. Take a step ahead of the changing world and be the change you expect.
In our last blog, I explained why it can be dangerous to fall in love with ideas and lose focus on execution. So considering that what should a startup be focusing on? Here are the three things that can make or break a startup: 1. Structure It is very important to understand that a business has a legal side and having the right paperwork goes a long way. Also, think of structure in terms of the people that become a part of your business and what core functions will they be executing. Managing people is a core part of a successful startup because your team can be your biggest asset but also remember they come with a fixed cost that will be a major chunk of your burn. Remember, as an entrepreneur you can’t do everything on your own! 2. Profitability There are a lot of startups that focus on the adoption of their services and products versus profitability. Keep your eyes on the prize. While investors are ok with startups bleeding for a few years in order to become a mass accepted service/product, this usually motivates people to lose sight of the cost of customer acquisition and then most things go downhill from there. Any resource whether time, energy or money is spent must have a measurable and acceptable return on investment! 3. Scalability No one wants to invest in or run a company that can’t grow beyond its first ten customers. There must be constant innovation and growth because that is an undefined goal of every startup. It’s crucial to keep an eye on the competition, changes in technology and ensuring your concept is future proof. Someone bought 500 horses a day before the car was invented!
The only thing that a startup usually focuses on its survival. Many founders struggle and thus fail to find the time to define the culture they aspire to follow! You set one for yourself or not, a culture exists at all times. Culture drives the value of the business but if non-defined, creates negation in the smooth working environment. So why allow an uncontrolled negative culture to take over the attitudes of the employees when you can set a rightly motivated one? Make sure the culture you are trying to define is a winning one with these pointers! 1. Decide upon the core values Every company needs some core values, values that make the company what it is. So decide it earlier, when a startup is still in its infancy, as to what kind of company you want to become. Do you want to become like IBM or Google, and what values will help you get there. Understand those values then communicate and incorporate them. And uphold those values in everything you do, from the interaction with your client to enjoying a coffee break. 2. Find the purpose No, I am not talking about the ‘make a loads of money’ or ‘create the greatest product’ I am talking about the ultimate purpose of why you are doing, what you are doing. So if you are a digital marketing company, your purpose can be of helping people and businesses to expand their ventures through digital tools. Communicate the purpose with every employee, employees are far happier and satisfied with their jobs when they are working at a purpose-driven company. 3. Keep it in check Culture is not something that you work on once and then forget about it. It’s an always ongoing process that requires a lot of patience and persistence. You will need to keep it in check all the time. One bad apple can have a significant bad influence if you let it. Especially when you are hiring, hire for value fit. Make sure that the person you are hiring is capable of keeping up with the culture that you have spent a lot of time and energy building. 4. Be a little loose, but not sloppy Okay, so it’s a startup and it should look and feel like one, you don’t need to go all corporate. But loose doesn’t mean sloppy. A little fun never harms anybody, as long as the work gets done. Startups work out best when there are lesser formal processes without compromising accountability. Thanks for reading.