Starting with a start-up seems to be the hottest career option right now, with over 50,000 of them registered in India, as per the 2019 Economic Census.
Every young person with an idea thinks that they can conquer the world with the idea of their sword. Cafés throughout the country see millennials and Gen-Zs dressed casually, sipping a coffee and typing away on their laptops.
No one knows when their idea might turn into a pot of gold.
But these micro-businesses also carry their own specific risks, factors worrisome enough to make the most iron-willed person want to quit and look for safer pastures.
Factors such as a lack of motivation, funding shortages and a lack of workforce are the very basic ones, with the most complicated being dangerous issues like copyright claims, technology being stolen and difficulty in getting acceptance from one's parents to start one's own startup.
Whereas it is impossible to compile a fail-safe way of running a start-up, here are some ways in which you can determine whether you're on the right track:
1. Number Up
- You should know your numbers like the back of your hand. It sometimes happens that due to abundant funding, businesses lose track of their expenditure and, in the long run, end up losing more money than they make.
- This causes distress and in extreme cases, the death of the business. Hence, you need to take good care of your numbers.
- Not only profit margins, inventory and rent, but you also need to keep a close eye on factors that look negligible like travel expenditure and stationery cost. If you are bad at math or accounts, hire an accountant.
2. Know Your Market
- This doesn't just mean knowing your target audience. You need to know precisely what problem you are solving, what gap are you filling and whether or not there is a gap in the first place!
- There are a lot of ideas that do have a lot of merits but they do not achieve the level of exposure they deserve because they are brought to the market at a place or time that is very different from where it is required.
- The case in point is the Veta - Vivekananda English Training Academy. They're regarded as India's premier English language training academy, but Veta had actually started as a math class for children who failed.
- Although it did make some profit, it didn't reach its true potential until it started with its English language training program and finally became an exclusive English language training academy.
3. Create a Team, not a Firm
- When you have a startup, a workforce is often very hard to find. People usually do not want to join a place that is not renowned and if they do, they demand big packages which an average start-up cannot afford.
- And without a workforce, it is almost impossible for a start-up to succeed. Additionally, in your blooming business, who would you like: a person who works for you for fat paychecks or someone who works with you for the vision you have?
- So instead of looking for multiple 'experienced' individuals with x number of years in the industry, it is recommended that you rather hire interns/freshers.
- This is recommended because although the experienced people would be more likely to perform better, a younger team can be sold on the vision, the goal and the story of the business.
- This would make them more loyal, more committed and ultimately more useful and valuable in the longer run.
4. Don't Lose the Experience Completely
- This is very important. Although in the last paragraph we've talked about hiring younger executives, having a couple of experienced people in your team never hurts.
- They've seen the good, the bad and the horrible in the industry. They've got more contacts than all your phone books combined and you never know, one of their nuggets of wisdom might change the company's direction for the better.
- The most helpful tool in any startup, be it any problem in any sector, is - your gut.
- Things will most certainly get tough. On the other hand, sometimes you might be faced with a progress decision - a jump in scale, getting a new office, getting an international deal - which might make you shiver, for taking this would definitely mean more profit and progress, but it would also mean opening yourself up to an entire series of new problems and risks.
- Taking these decisions is always difficult, and our advice is simple: do what your gut says.
A business is like a baby
The founder is the parent, looking at their child grow, evolve and finally succeed. At many times, there are decisions to be taken and choices to be made.
And like mothers have a 'maternal instinct', business founders always have a 'gut feeling', which somehow considers all the factors and then gives them a way to follow.
Founders are usually nervous about following their gut because the level of responsibility is big and scary.
Yet, this gut feeling is always right in some way. So go with your gut feeling, believe in your brand and the world is yours to win.