You are on the way to establish your new business. The big idea is in place; the money has been accounted for...but is this enough to begin your new entrepreneurial journey, especially, when compared to your first business in the 1990s? This second wave of entrepreneurship, which has hit your doodhwalla to the well established businessman, often tends to catch second-wave entrepreneurs by surprise! Yes, so much has changed in so little time! Here is a lowdown on some of the challenges that are faced by startups and new age entrepreneurs in the digital age of today:
The consumer is one step ahead of you: How often have we seen mini crises coursing through the veins of the internet every time a brand has made mistakes? As compared to the 1990s, when the internet was just beginning to gain ground, today, entrepreneurs need to watch their every move, and rethink every strategy twice - less for the business repercussions and more for the consumer perceptions that get built around the brand. In the truest sense of the term, the consumer is most definitely the king, today. They want to be heard, they want to see what matters to them, and should your brand not rise up to their expectations, you might as well say goodbye to what you have created. This calls for involving the consumer not only before the launch of the product, but also during its lifetime, in order to hear the audiences’ viewpoints as well as up the ante of the product.
The problem of plenty: Can any brand call itself unique within a category today? Yes, your idea may be different from the rest and you may provide the best quality services, but unlike the 1990s when there were just one or two brands vying for the consumers’ attention, today, there are thousands competing against one another. How is one supposed to make a brand’s USP stand out against the rest, is a challenge that can be quite arduous. Take for example, a common concern amongst parents today - the lack of quality content for kids online; even though there are thousands of websites for kids in India alone. However, all of them may not be age appropriate or have safe content, which leads to concerns. The differentiation can only be created once brands get big, and are able to set the highest standards of quality for themselves.
In addition to these, ideas tend to move rapidly, with many emulating what you already have. The last standing brand, however, will be the one which comes from building a relationship with a strong foundation with the consumer.
The investor factor: Compared to a decade ago when businesses were often self funded or financially supported by the immediate family, getting external funding is almost the norm today. It helps the business rise up to the challenges in its industry, develop the brand, and even acquire some recognition overseas (in cases where there are international investors). Many startups that have been able to successfully get their first round of funding are often left pressurized by the work they need to deliver for their next. This often leaves many entrepreneurs with sleepless nights, and an overworked bunch of employees! It is true that investment is a basic need for any startup but it calls for great resolve and constant generation of new ideas and thoughts to keep afloat; more than merely the cash factor.
The talent challenge: I want an e-commerce graduate! Uh...no! In this digital age, when businesses have gone online, entrepreneurs, time and again, face the challenge of grooming new recruits from the ground up. There is no external party or institution they can look to in order to ingrain the basics of business in new recruits. With the advent of a whole new marketplace entrepreneurs have to assume the role of a teacher as well - introducing concepts from scratch to helping employees work their way up.
While the challenges may have changed drastically over the past few years, the spirit of entrepreneurship will live on for years. With ‘starting your own business’ becoming much more accepted in the industry,and a proliferation of ideas due to increased access to education, the signs are very positive for India. Though the challenges will change over the next decade I am quite certain that the new generation will be able to rise up to them.
About the guest author:
Monish Ghatalia is the Founder of worldoo.com, an online ecosystem for kids between 6-12 years of age. At its core is a consumer centric feedback campaign. Monish began his entrepreneurial journey with his first company Focus Circle in the late 1990s.
(Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of YourStory.)