What a start up should learn from British empire
Wining a kingdom is different than ruling itKuntal Das
We live in a world where consumer dynamics are changing every hour, need of the market are altering at stagger pace, new ideas are threatening status quo, thirst for quick success have reached its peak. Job security, 9 to 5 work is matter of past and within no time today's stalwarts becomes tomorrow's scrounger. Welcome to world of start-up, the world where strength of dreams and aspirations of entrepreneurs are tasted every now and then with hammering realities .Where everyone dream to create a new facebook, Google or uber and vulture eyed VC and angel investors dream to own one of them but a short reality check done by Forbes had provided an alarming statistics that would tell us that out of ten ,every nine start up pull down its shutter within 24 months of its birth.
These alarming statistics of faltering start-ups would certainly make us to think ,learn and go. The history always teach us good lesson and when it comes to learn about learning the thumb rule of transforming a start-up in to a organisation, then its always good to unearth the sand of time and look into history of an organisation whose life time extends not for months and years but centuries. At it's height it had consumer share of 24 % of world's population, it had its foot print in 22 % of world's total area covering half of the countries in this planet and it survived for more than two centuries.You may guess that would be some oil companies but story of oil is not older than one century . We are here to dig into the history of British Empire , the empire whose sun never set. Many may object over linking the bright era of start up with dark colonialist , whose prime motive was to plunder wealth from colonies, but certainly there is no harm in extracting good part from worst.The British Indian history can be analysed to create two most survival strategy for Indian start-ups.
1.law of land and constitution.
"No Freeman shall be taken or imprisoned, or be disseised of his Freehold, or Liberties, or free Customs, or be outlawed, or exiled, or any other wise destroyed; nor will We not pass upon him, nor condemn him, but by lawful judgment of his Peers, or by the Law of the Land"
The above words are excerpt of charter drafted by archbishop of Canterbury for the peace between the unpopular King John of England and a group of rebel barons,the charter later on came to be known as Magna Carta and it is the genesis of constitution which upholds country's democracy, its the same document which citizen of every country draws its rights and responsibilities.It is the trust of the people in constitution which ensure free and fair governance in a country and in turn it helps country to prosper .The period from first royal charter given by Queen on 31st 1600 Elizabeth I till Nehru made tryst with destiny on the midnight 14th August 1947.It had depicted an era, where agitations and celebrations were for the system rather against individual.
In the same way trust is the foundation on which building of a start-up is built. Liquidity , ideas, growth and profit reinforces it, dreams and inspiration of individuals keep the spark alive which enable this building to rise brick by brick.But what happen when dreams collides and trust shivered , the foundation gets shaken. Few years back classic case of housing.com had demonstrated that the main reason of a failing start-up is lack of trust amongst its founders and investor.2016 marked the cooling year of overheated Indian start-up furnace from plethora , 20 promising Indian start up had closed its shop , Their ephitat tells us what an start should not do.
The pre-requisite of any start up is to gradually transfer its mutual understanding and trust held among team into a well documented company policy and work process and its vision shall be shared by all. This vision had been coined as mission statement by Steven Covey in his iconic book "7 habits of highly effective people" .Initial Bootstrapping period of all start-up marks with severe constraint of resources , where every single individual may have to perform multiple roles, everything seems to be good when everything is going well but single undesirable outcome would rip the team apart and blame game would start. In this tasting time, rather than blaming any individual it is always good to have a system in place which can be blamed ,further improved and then followed. The system should be based on some core values,vision and ethics .On the periphery of which its work process, policy, guidelines are prepared. Those should be treated as company's constitution ,which shall be herdly amendable and all team members should adhere to it .All roles shall not be only clearly identified but also drafted in company policy , responsibilities shall be marked in and risk analysed, cause and effect shall be worked out. Policies shall be aligned with companies vision which promotes healthy work culture.The idea of this company policy shall be to change a people centric start-up to system centric one, same thing which British empire did centuries ago.All big organisations strictly follow its system and it is the only thing which enabled them to last so long . So in this scenario it will be perfectly correct to say " fake it till you make it". Tesla , Google and apple which valued the system and today they are behmoth. Every VC and angel investor should not only bet on ideas and business plan but also see for this system in place.
2. Geting rid of animal Instinct .
Having an animal instinct means to act with intuition rather than planing. It may yield result in short term but certainly it fails in long terms. That is the reason why start-ups even after very high slope of growth falters, remember it takes British three wars spanning four decades to conquer Marathas , 4 war and 3 decades to conquer Mysore and took the route of subsidiary alliance to win over kingdoms without wedging a war. Everytime they failed, they invented new strategy and planned accordingly, numerous instance like this would clearly support the statement " patience and planing " is the key . It is known that , post-mortem of failed start-ups have found that its failure to grow is one of the cause for its demise but at the same time it found that indiscriminate spending of VC's money in the name of attaining organic growth had garnered same result, amazon pioneered the cash burn strategy during early part of this century which later on paid big dividend but at the same time we should not ignore the amazon's continuous behind the scene endeavour to develop their product to suit market need.Would you hope that foodpanda or uber with its present product would have succeeded in the days of 2G data connection. Answering the call of market is the bigest deal , the word of mouth publicity is the cheapest means of customer accusation and that can only happen when startup invest a lot in product development, planning, strategising and systematic acquisition. It cannot strive for long by simply bribing it's consumers and working by animal instinct.
Wining a kingdom is different than ruling it. Think about it while celebrating Republic day this year.