4 questions that determine if your startup is on the right path


Most startups fail, and the worst ones often fail in the very first year. The reasons for failure could be anything ranging from unbefitting products to feudal marketing strategies and derided business plans or simply the lack of funds. Running a startup is a challenge that takes a major toll on your personal life and health. But, if you have already crossed the excruciating first year and you’re still going strong, preferably bootstrapped, you’d be glad to know that you are doing better than most.

Here are some questions to ask yourself that can determine if your startup is on the right path.

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Do you have customer validation?

Do you have the confirmation that your customers are willing to invest in your products and services? Are they willing to pay the price you have asked for?

If the answer to both the questions is yes, you are on the right track. On the other hand, if you are not sure of customer validation, start slow and analyse the demand for your products and services. Whatever you are selling or planning to incorporate as a part of your disruptive operations, under all means, must be backed by a strong customer validation. There is a reason why companies spend millions on market research. If you can get your hands on such data, it will be easier to contemplate the potential of your business in the long run.

As said by Kavin Bharti Mittal, Head of Strategy for New Product Development at Bharti SoftBank, “To go global, your product has to be phenomenal. Your product has to have personality, not just lines of code.”

“To go global, your product has to be phenomenal. Your product has to have personality, not just lines of code.” – Kavin Bharti Mittal

A successful startup scales its operations on the basis of proven and steady customers.

Do you have a talented workforce?

Did you hire the staff yourself? Is each able to able to deliver per say? Most importantly, are you able to retain talented employees?

If you answered positively to these questions, it’s a sign that your workforce is going to add a great deal of value to your business. It is important to note that in addition to strong leaders, it is important to have a team that you can rely on.

Urs Hölzle, Vice-president of Technical Infrastructure at Google, said most startups die because they underestimate how important hiring the right talent is. Subsequently, they recruit the wrong people.

The first few employees are truly the backbone of any successful company. And, if they have chosen to stick with your organisation, chances are that they see immense potential in your company that would also add to their professional growth. Also, it is important to remember that when a venture capital firm considers investing in a startup, the staff of the company is one of the crucial factors that have an impact on this decision. So, if you have the right talent, you would want to make them stay longer for your company's ultimate success.

Do you have a concrete business plan in place?

How do investors respond to your business plan? Do you have it all figured out? Do you have a five-year plan in place?

A business that begins with a mere survival approach often gets trapped in a cycle that restricts growth. But, if you have it all figured out before taking the plunge, chances are that you won’t have a hard time facing the challenges that come along in the first two years. It is crucial to start with a concrete business plan and move ahead at a steady pace, measuring strides, so you are able to take corrective measures as and when the need arises. If you already have a five-year-plan in place and your company is steadily meeting small-term as well as long-term goals, even if it means one at a time, signs are that you are already hitting all the right notes.

Do you practise clear and transparent communication?

Clear communication is one of the hallmarks of a good company. If your company is known to propagate clear, crisp and transparent communication, not only with customers but also with vendors and associates, it will always enjoy a good reputation in the market. A reputed name automatically attracts better opportunities and profitable collaborations. Good startups communicate good news as well as bad news with market forces in candid and straightforward language. If, so far, you have been able to communicate your ideas and potential to the world in an influential manner, you can expect to realise tremendous growth and opportunities in the future.

In a nutshell, it pays to get acquainted with the fact that it is harder to get end-consumers to adopt new products than to get risk-taking investors on board. If you want to predict the future of your business, without getting overstated or understated, ask what your friends and folks think about the potential of your products and services. Once you have the consent of the ‘normal’ people around you, the rest will be a cakewalk.