Not everything has changed, it’s still about the same things
‘Change’ is such an overused word these days! As are its derivatives: new normal and paradigm shift.
There has been a cascade of opinions across forums - that the world will not be the same post coronavirus. Perhaps there is truth in that. Maybe human behaviours are transitioning. Probably some business processes will undergo dramatic amendments. But if this pandemic should have taught us anything, it is not to talk in any kind of certainties.
Let’s face it. Forecasting has always been a favourite human pastime, especially when change is in the air. But if one examines evolutionary biology, one of the fundamental truths to appreciate is how slow ‘real’ change is. The upgrade of our species, from four legged creatures to completely bipedal ones, was probably several thousands of years in the making. At the deepest level, our primal urges and desires still remain the same.
While ‘change’ is hopefully diminishing in everyday monetary transactions, let us dwell on what stays constant in the startup journey. For in the mad rush to change every single thing from the office entry process to the modalities of the next celebration, modern day business still entails a few immutable aspects.
In a sense, it is still very much about the same old things.
It’s still all about timing
Worldwide researches have indicated that timing might be the primary factor which determines the success of a startup. Think of how the economic recession at the end of the last decade really helped Uber hit the road, and enabled Airbnb to host dreams of massive growth.
The post lockdown scenario is not going to be any different. It will be still all about who enters at just the right time. There will be new needs which have emerged given changed scenarios, and there are opportunities waiting to be tapped into.
Existing companies might look to recontextualise their offerings and services. Some new ‘turks’ will definitely try and seize the moment. But as always, in business as in standup comedy, it will be all about timing. And that’s not a joke.
It’s still all about the idea
The idea is at the core of any business. It is the spark which ignites the startup engine. It sets the company apart and helps it strike up a new conversation with the market.
Byju’s saw an opportunity in addressing a new generation born into digital technology, by educating them on a platform which was most suited for holding their attention. It presented a refreshing deviation from crammed, disengaging classroom environments, where student’s minds tended to wander, and allowed many young children to learn in an interactive, interesting manner at their own pace.
The success of that company does prove that when it comes to the startup report card, the idea holding it together always needs to score high marks.
It’s still all about the team
A man is known by the company he keeps. This is especially true of leaders running organisations. Gathering the right people around and bringing them on board as far as the startup’s inspiring vision is, represents one of the greatest responsibilities a leader has to bear.
The right people with the right drive is often the decisive factor which powers a startup into the realms of stardom in the business world. Narayana Murthy found able allies in Nandan Nilekani, S.D. Shibulal, Kris Gopalakrishnan, N.S. Raghavan, K. Dinesh and Ashok Arora.
All of them rowing together in unison, powered Infosys as one of the flagship companies when it came to India’s bold foray into the new-age economy. Eventually, even in the most high tech of industries, it is the magic of people coming together that makes the decisive difference.
It’s still about quality delivery
Delivery should never be confused with the final transaction of the company’s offering with the customer, though that is also becoming exceedingly important in these times. It is about the entire experience the customer has with the company, right from the time she makes first contact.
And while coronavirus posed a threat to the delivery system of several Indian companies, it was heartening to see many rise to the challenge. Take the case of cure.fit, a fitness organisation. Denied the chance to have direct contact with its clientele, cure.fit replaced physical interaction at its various premises (gyms) with a virtual stage, offering consultations, training and group exercise classes online. Probably fair to say that even when things slowed down, this startup managed to keep pulses racing.
It’s still about creating a story
After all is said and done, customers still need to engage with the company at a visceral level. People need narratives they can identify with and feel passionate about. They need tales which will resonate with their souls. This goes far beyond conventional advertising and communication.
It is about the guiding principles which dictate all the startup does. Today, it is sometimes easy to forget that the seeds of Apple’s success were laid in the overarching belief ‘technology should be in the service of mankind, not the other way around’. This might sound obvious now, but at the time it was a revolutionary perspective, given the intimidating perception high tech had with the average folk.
It served to present the intellectual scaffolding on which Apple built its products. It elevated the company to cult status. It well and truly led to the fruits of success. “What’s our guiding company story?” is an interesting question founders can constantly ask themselves. It comes with the ‘Jobs’.
To conclude, with all this talk of change going around, it is easy for startups to get carried away and start reacting. Indulge in some knee jerk initiatives. But it is vital to remember some important things might always be cast in stone. And it is in respecting their resolute nature the pathway to success is laid.
(Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of YourStory.)