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9 lessons for early-stage startups to fly high

Niharika Kapoor
18th Jan 2016
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There are mainly two kinds of entrepreneurs in the world: those who wait around for good things to happen to their business, and those who make good things happen to their business. The latter are often go-getters, who leave no stone unturned in pursuing their dreams and turning them into reality.

Most new entrepreneurs have a grand idea of running a business, wherein every problem works itself out in the end and everyone lives happily ever after. However, unless you’re extremely lucky, chances are that you’re going to have to take concrete measures and make difficult decisions to get your startup on the road to success.

You need to be prepared to face trying times throughout your entrepreneurial journey, particularly during the early days. However, it is not the problem but your reaction to the problem that will determine the outcome.

Mentioned ahead are a few tips that can help your startup weather the storms and soar to greater heights.

Prepare mentally

As much as you want success to kiss your feet overnight, know that that isn’t going to happen. Success needs hard work, dedication and patience. Of course you’re bound to come by several roadblocks on your journey, but that should not make you throw in the towel.

At the same time, don’t pity yourself or compare your venture to already established ones. Remember, they probably started off just like you did.

If you want to make it out of the woods, you will need to stay focussed, determined and be willing to keep charging ahead until you get the prize. Be mentally prepared for this and steer clear of negative thoughts as they may paralyse you.

Stop procrastinating and conquer your fears

Making the decision to start and run a business can be intimidating. The fear of failure keeps most wannabe entrepreneurs on the fence. And fear is a dangerous emotion that only increases with time. This is why it is important to act fast towards dousing those fears and moving forward.

Gathering the courage to face your fears and start your business may take time, but it will be worth it. The idea is to stop putting it off and take action swiftly.

Plan ahead

What is an idea without a sound plan to execute it? That’s right, it’s just an idea.

Flawless execution needs proper planning in advance. This means that you will need solid answers to the following few crucial questions:

  • Where is your target market and what are they looking for?
  • Does your product/service solve their problem?
  • Are there other existing offerings that are similar to yours?
  • Is there a lacuna, and how can your offerings fill it?
  • Is there a location in particular where you should be operating out of?

The answers to the above questions will help you get your perspective in place and plan your next steps.

The other areas that need planning include delivering your value proposition and building a contingency fund to eliminate unnecessary financial stress.

Always have Plan B on standby

We all want to win huge rewards, but that also means taking huge risks. This is why it is important to have a Plan B in place.

Soon after you decide to start a business, you will be required to make several decisions that could make or break your business. This can be a daunting task, and you want to make sure that you make informed decisions to mitigate the risk factor. There will also be times when you will not feel informed enough.

Whatever risk you take, have a backup plan ready to minimise its adverse effects on your business and those around you.

Be realistic about factoring your costs

Starting a business can be costly, which is why you will need to include realistic numbers for all the expenses to get operations up and running. These expenses include costs related to building/office lease, research and development, equipment and maintenance, marketing, employee hiring, training and salaries, website development and maintenance, and administrative functions.

Do review your expenses on a monthly basis to ensure that you’re on track. If not, make the necessary chances where needed. Keeping your startup costs low will allow you more time to get things into perspective. By starting small, working hard, and growing organically, you’ll eventually achieve your goals.

Be appealing to your target market

It is extremely important that your target market finds you attractive enough to make you their first choice. Keep this in mind when drafting your promotional content or copy.

Once they become your customers, make sure you ask for feedback so that you can know your strengths and weaknesses. There’s nothing better than knowing about your business from those whose opinions matter the most. After all, running a business successfully is all about meeting customer needs and expectations. If you fail at that, you’ll have to shut shop.

Customer service counts

The customer is the king, which is why your business needs to treat them like the most valuable assets that they are. The customer service experience starts from the initial stages of starting the business. You constantly have to work towards differentiating yourself from your competitors by offering the 'wow' factor that they are looking for.

If you think poor customer service is hindering your business growth, start treating your customers like royalty and let it trickle down. They’ll be surprised to hear from you, and you could earn their loyalty by making things right.

Delegation is crucial

Delegating tasks can be difficult, especially when you don’t think that others may be competent enough to handle them the way you do.

But, you have two choices. You can either adopt the jack-of-all-trades-master-of-none approach and go nowhere with your plans, or delegate certain tasks to skilled personnel or agencies, focus on the strategic/revenue-generating aspects and empower your business.

Don’t lose yourself

It is completely understandable that you want your business to succeed at all costs. After all, that’s why you started it. But don’t get so involved in it that it becomes the centre of your universe, or you will burn out. You don’t want to be making critical decisions or interacting with customers with a frazzled mind.

Take care of yourself and get sufficient physical and mental rest. Set aside time to pursue activities that make you happy. Go out and have fun, and the business will be waiting for you when you come back to it.

Conclusion 

Being an entrepreneur is like going on a rollercoaster ride. The initial stages will be the most demanding and intensive, and you will need to do what it takes to stay relevant. With time, you will get through the rough patch. You will make mistakes that will teach you several recipes to entrepreneurial success. In fact, even after you’ve established your venture, do not stop in your efforts to make its presence felt and learn new things, or it can bring about a quick downfall. The above tips should help you mitigate your problems, watch your business grow, and, years later, reflect on your triumphant entrepreneurial journey.

(Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of YourStory.)

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