12 Things You Should Know as a Startup Entrepreneur

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The most trending buzzword of this decade is Entrepreneur. Starting your own business is far more than a dream, probably you would have given up a highly successful job to make your brainchild a reality. There is humongous competition in all fields thanks to social media and increased global connectivity. Is the idea of starting your own business a reason for innumerable sleepless nights? Starting your own business in today’s hyper competitive world is a daunting task and from my experience at SoftwareSuggest, here are  risks.

  1. Address the most quintessential question before staring up – Would your product be of any use to public? Many good startups have fantastic ideas yet fail! Having a fantastic idea is not enough, you need to think practically about your target audience and would it be of any help to them. If your product offers to make the customers life easy, rest assured that it has hallway passed the test of being successful.
  2. Are you ready to sacrifice your personal life for the next 5 years – When you start a startup, it’s like having a baby. It needs continuous care all throughout the first 4-5 years. Each and every second that you are awake would be full of struggles, having to reach out to the target audience, finding new customers and having to convince people to buy what you sell. The neck deep work that needs to be completed, constant check over your competitors and how to embrace the latest trends would keep you busy enough to have no personal life for the initial few years.
  3. Don’t overdo or under spend – The best thing about majority of the startups is that they need to operate in tight budgets. Most of them at the outset are not backed by financers or sponsors hence you need to keep a check on the dollars that are spent. It can be really taxing for you and your family, yet it is equally important to spend where necessary. Pound wiser than a penny, many times when you go in for cheaper solutions, they do not give the desired results ultimately you’ll have to go in for the better services after wasting on the cheaper ones. Technically speaking, you will have to spare some bucks for advertising, but its ok with you don’t gift each of your clients with an expensive take way gift.
  4. Keep a tab on your competitors – You must be under the illusion that your product is unique, but in 99% of the cases it is already in the market. The genius of a true entrepreneur lies in making a common product uncommon, providing services that your competitors haven’t explored yet. Richard Branson says the essence of true entrepreneurship lies in finding solutions that haven’t yet been though about to make your customer’s life easier. While having a startup or an established business, constantly keep a tab on what your competitors are up to and the metrics that they are using.
  5. Don’t allow failure to stop you – Bill Gates says, “Its fine to celebrate success but it’s equally important to heed the lessons of the failures”. In startups, failure is seen as a good thing. Only after trying out hundreds of solutions for a particular problem would you come up with a mind blowing answer. All the time that was taken up in trying the other ninety nine solutions makes you a wiser person. When you learn to gracefully accept the mistakes that led to failure and emerge as a winner with knowledge about all the methods that won’t work, you’ll succeed.
  6. Embrace innovation – Innovation and constant polymorphism is the key ingredient for any business to succeed. Today, people are constantly hunting for newer means, technology and channels which when infused into their strategy would make their product stand a notch above others. Study your marketplace, research and analyze how an innovation can change the existing system and attract more users. Revamp your products or marketing strategies with the technology that suits your business the best and that would enable you to get accolades.
  7. Own your name – For any startup to get recognized among the mass, it has to have its own name and trademark. Before starting, once the basic plan of action is ready make sure to choose a catchy name and a meaningful symbol that best portrays your brand. Also, checkup with the trademark and patent office to see if no one else has taken up the name you’re planning to use. Often it happens that after years of using a nice name and trademark, you come to know that someone else had already taken it up before you and you’ll have to go through the arduous task of having to change all from scratch. Most of the new startups make their website through which they can reach the global audience. Today is the era of global marketing and make sure to have an attractive and informative website that would attract more potential customers.
  8. Hire a kickass team – To have a successful startup, a kickass team is the first prerequisite. You cannot control or do everything, there has to be a team wherein work is divided as per each individual’s capabilities. Instead of hiring a homogeneous team, hire people from varied background having diverse skills. With websites like oDesk, Skillpages and social media, you can very easily hire freelancers. The best advantage of hiring freelancers is that you do not have to pay for 9-6 job, instead contract based payments can be done thereby reducing overall expenses at the same time getting the best talent available in industry.
  9. Focus on sales – Once you actually start marketing the product, then the sales part comes into picture. An avant-garde product is of no use if it cannot reach the desired audience. Selling your brand to customers is more of science than an art and can be mastered by practice. Although you have your own sales team, there are times when you will have to go out to pitch for your product. Rather than being just a sales man, tell your clients how the product would be helpful to them and mark our words, you’ll win many hearts and clients.
  10. Streamline online and offline efforts to be equivalent – Every startup needs investors either in form of sponsors or through crowdfunding. Most of them get innumerable “no” before striking a deal with a financer because a startups may take even half of a decade to start making profit and it needs equal patience from the investor. So only when a patron sees the “wow – potential profit making ability” in your startup, would he invest. My advice: Whenever you receive a polite “no”, do ask them what is lacking so as to improve those sections.
  11. Connect with mentors – A mentor is a person with more experience in the same field and was once upon a time an entrepreneur himself. He has learnt entrepreneurial skills like strategizing, teaching, consulting and managing over a period of time and has mastered this art. The timeless wisdom that he gained in the process is passed on to you. The rewards are many, he has no ulterior motive and almost non-existent risks. It’s free, you expand your social network, forge a long-term relationship and frankly speaking, and whom else could you turn to!
  12. Amplify your business with social media – Social media is the best channel to leverage your business. You can reach out to the global audience via social networks. More than 65% youth check out social media for their day to day queries and for updating their knowledge. What else could be a better way of getting noticed! By advertising about your brand on Facebook, Twitter, Youtube, Pinterest and Instagram, your website can get heavy traffic. Ultimately if your product appeals to the visitors they would be converted into leads and potential customers.

I sincerely hope that this article won’t frighten you from taking a plunge into entrepreneurship. You just need to have realistic expectations and ability to work your sweat off. Not all startups can be a success overnight and be sold to Facebook for millions of dollars. However, hard work and patience will increase your chances of success.

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Ankit Dudhwewala is the Co-Founder at SoftwareSuggest.com, a business software discovery platform made for Indian companies. You can follow him on @ankitdudhwewala.

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