A definitive guide to starting up, scaling up and successfully positioning your solution in a global market
The risks and the rewards notwithstanding, that there’s a world of difference in how a B2B and a B2C startup function is an understatement. From the pain points that they’re solving, to the product philosophy, or the customer mindset, the generic rules that apply to a one segment will not work in the case of the other.
For B2B startups, these 5 golden rules are good to remember.
Get someone who knows what exactly to sell: Have a strong sales person on the team with a good understanding of B2B sales, as he or she will need to appeal to a different customer mindset.
Don’t stretch yourself too thin: Be focused on one problem and you can best solve that one problem, instead of trying to solve multiple problems
Make sure to plan your cashflow efficiently: The B2B sales cycles can be fairly long. So do factor in enough runway time.
Learn to recognise a true customer: With time and experience, become adept at understanding who is a serious customer early on, and focus on them. This will help you in the long run, as the next point illustrates.
Find referenceable customers: These are the customers who you can use as references and whose feedback will add to your brand value. So ensure that you are keeping them happy.
The accelerator phase
So with all other things in place, you’re now thinking of the next step, scaling up. You may believe that getting into a well-known accelerator programme is THE ticket to the big league. Think again. Of course, making it to the programme from several hundreds of applicants with compelling and innovative solutions is surely commendable. But that’s no excuse to sit back and relax. In fact, if anything, this is the stage where you need to be clearer, more focussed and work harder towards refining your product / solution to make it market-worthy for a global audience.
Here are some important dos and don’ts to keep in mind for startups in an accelerator phase.
Staring working backwards: Early on in the programme, define your goal for the graduation day and the roadmap you have in mind. In a few weeks or months, based on interactions with mentors and their feedback, you may need to revisit this and make adjustments. But always start out with a clear picture in mind of where you want to be.
Use all the advantages you get: Make maximum use of all the resources that are available during the programme: From mentors, to industry connects, to prospective customer connects, don’t hesitate to leverage any advantage you get during the programme which can take you closer to your goal.
When in doubt, always ask: Don’t be afraid to ask -- for guidance, for clarity and anything else you believe will help you in your journey. Remember, the few weeks inside the programme can make a world of difference to how your solution is received in the competitive world outside.
Keep it simple and short: When making a pitch to investors, don’t try to squeeze in your whole story into a few minutes. With this, you risk diluting the key message and your unique selling proposition. Focus only on what’s relevant to the audience in front of you. Another no-no is over-shooting the time as people switch off mentally once the allotted time is over.
Taking the entrepreneurial plunge
For those who are still unsure of chasing their entrepreneurial dream, do remember that as challenging as it may be, starting up can be equally rewarding, if you keep in mind these basic pointers.
Do it right: Know why you are starting up, and do it for the right reasons – because you truly believe that you can make a difference with your offering. Not because it is the latest fad and everyone else is doing it.
Get a grounded perspective: In the same vein, do understand that passion is great. But successful businesses don’t run only on passion, make sure to get some real and practical insights before you commit yourself.
Talk to other founders: To get a real sense of what entrepreneurship entails and how it can change your life, do talk to other founders– both successful and failed. After all, being in the trenches is very different from reading up books about it.
Keep your eye on the goal: Last, execution is everything, so focus, focus and focus!
(Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of YourStory.)