Ten things to remember in a start-up - before you start it up
Here are a few bits of universal wisdom that would, IMO, help every entrepreneur start up on the right foot.
As an entrepreneur, you are flooded with advice – from VCs, fellow entrepreneurs, family , friends, the internet et al. Some of it is good, even great. But at the end of the day, you have to sort through it all through a sieve made up of your experience, your goals and your team, and decide what's best for your start-up.
Having said that, I have garnered a few bits of universal wisdom that would, IMO, help every entrepreneur start up on the right foot.
1) Have A Clear Vision
Before you start, you need to be clear on where you want to go. Know your idea inside out, and how you want to implement it. Create milestones and timelines for your journey. Of course, there will come times when you need to take detours, but your end destination should be crystal clear.
2) Have Strong Financial Planning
This is usually buried under the excitement of all the "big ideas" we entrepreneurs like to have, but it is an extremely vital other side of the coin. Plan well and always keep a buffer – this is key for any start up. An excellent auditor I a must-have on your initial team – not only for their expert advice, but also to help you get all the mandatories in order, so business can start running smoothly from the get go.
3) Ask For Advice
The start-up may be your baby, but you know what they say – it takes a village to raise a child. A good advisory team is a must. Choose people for their subject matter expertise, as you cannot be an expert in everything. And then ask them for help when you need it – because, trust me, you will!
Budgeting every step is an important part of financial planning. It helps keep the big-idea train on the rails, and avoid unnecessary expenses, so things get online as per the financial plans you initially set.
5) Build a Good Initial Team
The people you have around you will be your biggest asset, so choose wisely. Pick people who share your vision, are as passionate about it as you are, and will back and advise each other to move it forward. Nurture and invest in them.
6) Know the Industry
Learn all the ins and outs of the industry you are entering. Understand what problem you are trying to solve, who your competition is, what the market scenario is, who your customer is. This is valuable information and data that will help you during the intial phase and as you grow.
Having a financial plan in place is one part. The other is knowing where your funding is going to come from. Bootstrapping it? Need a VC or angel? Be brutally realistic when figuring this out!
What's in a name? A lot! Pick a name that resonates with your vision and what you want your brand to stand for, and get it trademarked ASAP, so you have no ownership issues down the line.
Always ensure a good legal team is on board. Don’t sign off on anything without their advice. The devil is in the details, and you need the experts to help you navigate contracts and fund raise agreements, and secure patents and IP differentiators.
10) Testing & Marketing
Once you're ready to get up and running, do a trial run to see how your product/idea is received by your audience. This way, you can make changes based on direct customer feedback, and perfect your product before you hit the market at large.
Also remember that design, advertising & marketing is an inherent part of your product. It can be a game changer when done right. When creating a marketing plan, it is important to hit the right balance between what you promise, and what you can deliver, based on your funds.