Startups and SMEs — five handy tips for scaling your businessVikram Upadhyaya
Success is all but guaranteed in an ecosystem which now presents an abundance of opportunities. Here are some ways startups and SMEs can increase their chances of success.
Today, startups and small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) are being established all across the world at a rapid pace. Any industry or field you can imagine, and even the one you couldn't have thought of, are fielding increasing competition from a number of startups and SMEs. That alone, would give you an idea of just how intense the competition is when it comes to such ventures and their ability to succeed. And then there's also the consideration of the economic climate, which, more often than not, further adds to the challenge of attaining success for startups and SMEs, no matter what industry or market they may have forayed into.
In spite of the myriad challenges, the fact remains that being a part of this community is a galvanising prospect, especially when you consider the mind-boggling innovations being continuously ushered in.
What further adds to the excitement in this ecosystem is the government's support in the form of a vast range of schemes under the ambit of the Startup India plan. Suffice it to say that there's not only much scope but also support for those venturing into the world of startups and SMEs. This may lead you to think that success is all but guaranteed in an ecosystem that presents not only an abundance of opportunities, but also assistance. While these factors are vital for success, there are a handful of other factors as well that play an equally important role in propelling a startup/SME towards success. Here are some ways startups and SMEs can increase their chances of success:
- While this one is ideally a no-brainer, a large number of startups can end up ignoring the importance of creating a niche for their product and/or service. So, if you find yourself heading down that path too, take a moment to step back. And then make sure you put in place the requisite measures for establishing your identity such as digital presence, collaterals, the logo, etc. Startups and SMEs should make sure that these factors conform to their respective brand's essence in all aspects. For instance, Mumbai-based venture The Sole Sisters is exclusively dedicated to women who love shoes. Shoe lovers can simply post the picture of their shoes and post it on Facebook or Instagram page of The Sole Sisters to let others know where they bought it from and at what price. It also creates custom pieces using Indian craft and fabrics. Their point of sale is Facebook and Instagram as well as lifestyle stores Good Earth and Ogaan.
- The market and demand is crucial, no matter what product or service the company may be developing. However, companies may need to adapt their validation process if they are striving to introduce a rather different offering in the market. Hence, startups and SMEs must not only focus on research while trying to ascertain a market fit, but also work on identifying the customers' pain points i.e. what they are missing and what works for them. For example, before launching the online healthcare platform Practo, its Founder Shashank ND spoke to doctors and other people from medical fraternity to find out whether its product will find acceptance. Gradually, he built a sustainable and competitive model based on the feedback from market research. And, as they say, rest is history!
- Yet another vital factor for success in the context of startups and SMEs is the ‘right’ mentoring. Sure, there are an endless number of startup incubators and accelerators, but they rarely ever provide effective mentoring. And considering the fact that the market today is brimming with fairly high risk, it becomes even more important for new startups and SMEs to learn from successful ventures. This will enable them to confidently forge their own path to success. Did you know whom Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg looks up to as his mentor? Steve Jobs! Whenever there were downward phases in his business, he would go to Steve Jobs to seek guidance.
- How startups and SMEs engage in marketing and how they position their brand often decides their ability to succeed -- or at least influences it to a considerable extent. In this context, digital marketing is crucial because it can increase the venture’s reach substantially. You must also remember that just throwing money on marketing and positioning initiatives, digital or offline, isn't enough -- smart execution is equally important here. A fine example of this is the United States based wearable technology firm Magic Leap. Before its official product launch, it started putting very thought-provoking, engaging and interactive content on its social media platforms. By the time it was ready to make a debut, it had already garnered more than 60k likes on Facebook and 32k followers on Twitter!
- The phenomenon of success has some pretty basic rules that are applicable universally and are not affected by the context. One of these ground rules is that in order to succeed and then extend your lead over your contemporaries, one must stay ahead of the curve. This is as simple as it gets; startups and SMEs not only need to monitor the market but also the trends, the changes, the new technologies and innovations and finally, their competition and then use that information to acquire an edge. This way, they can at least stay a couple of steps ahead in the game, if not extend their lead by miles. Have you noticed how Amazon is giving serious competition to Flipkart and other e-commerce sites? It is simply because Amazon continuously adds new products and categories to its kitty, comes up with new promotion techniques, has made its logistics channel efficient and so on. The drive to improve efficiency and performance has never stopped for Amazon.
It is also important to understand that success is not permanent; instead, it is fleeting and necessitates certain measures and steps to ensure that it supports the founders' efforts to grow the company into a healthy business.
And considering the ubiquity of disruptive technology and solutions in the market, low entry barriers, and an abundance of support, in terms of investment, guidance, and government policies, for startups and SMEs, there seems only one way – forward.
(Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of YourStory.)