Veteran Speak: Advice for Start-Up Founders

With as many as 1,37,000 start-ups emerging each day, failing to implement the right strategies can be a cause of underwhelming and dissatisfactory results for start-up owners. A start-up’s performance depends largely on their ability to sustain through fluctuating market circumstances. Despite best efforts, practical implementation can be much more demanding than anticipated. In order to absorb shocks and pull off in the long run, start-up founders need some valuable advice from veterans to effectively manage their companies and grow the business. To realise a successful kick-start and its sustenance, some pertinent questions must be addressed and fulfilled. Let’s delve into some of them:

1. What’s your plan?
Bob Parson, Founder of GoDaddy, sharing about his personal experience, states: “What I learned from Rockefeller that’s off-the-hook important is: You need to know exactly where you stand in a business at all times. Measure everything because everything that is measured and watched improves.”

The right planning will produce the right results. Start-up founders need to thoroughly examine the purpose, the targets and the value of their businesses before they dive into making their first move. With the start-up success rate being as low as 10%, thorough planning and creating a viable business model is indispensable for start-up owners in order to get their business off the ground. From production to marketing, creating the right and a comprehensive blueprint can reduce the risk of failure and lead to dynamic progress.

2. Can you adapt?
If you can, you are more likely to sustain. Career coach and the Founder & CEO of Brilliant Balance Company, Cherylanne Skolnicki shared the following piece of advice: “Resist falling in love with your initial idea so you can discover what the market actually wants and is willing to pay for – and then give it to them.”

In the business world, flexibility is a skill that all businesses must be equipped with. Promptly adapting to varying market conditions can enhance the efficiency of a business and attract audience. However, to stick to their original business plan, many start-up founders tend to overlook the needs of the market. Market climate is ever-changing, calling for agile businesses that can deliver products and services accordingly. While it is important to maintain the original brand identity, it is equally important to adapt and evolve which start-up owners need to be prepared for.

3. How creative are you?
With cut-throat competition and a tonne of ideas floating, investing in creativity will prove to be hugely rewarding. Linda Naiman, Founder of Creativity at Work shares her insights: “Creativity gives you a competitive advantage by adding value to your service or product, and differentiating your business from the competition.”

Customer behaviour is largely impacted by the extent of creative value attached to a business. It’s crucial for start-up owners to level-up their creative game to stand out and corner the market. A major benefit of investing in creativity is that it brings the business and the customers closer. A creative presence invokes a stronger response from the audience which ultimately must be the top-priority for start-ups to grow by leaps and bounds.

4. Are you solving a problem?
“A common mistake I see many startup founders making is they aren’t solving a real problem. You should try to solve a real problem that people have or identify a much better way for people to do things than they’ve historically done before. That is often a good place to start…That’s why the motto of Y Combinator is: ‘Make something people want.’ If you can do that, you’re probably onto something.” says Alexis Ohanian, Founder of Reddit, Hipmunk, and Breadpig.

There’s a reason why entrepreneurs are called problem solvers. Why should your target audience choose you? If you could only answer that. As a matter of fact, countless inventions and innovations worldwide have been a by-product of problem-solving. The most successful entrepreneurs carefully study the needs and behaviours of their target audience before cracking a strategy. The business blueprint must be centred around solving a problem in order to define its presence as it enters the market.

5. Are you upping your networking skills?
If not, you’d want to consider that. “Make connections and keep a record on each person you meet,” Clare Dreyer, Career Expert, shares networking insights with Forbes. She adds: “Ask for their advice and help. Keep in touch with them along the way and build your network before you need it! Quality relationships are the keys to the kingdom.”

Developing relations is that what helps start-ups stay afloat when the business goes through a rough patch. Collaborations and networking can also generate great momentum leading to growth and expansion of insights and know-how. Learning from experienced seniors can also help start-up owners smoothen their way out of economic shocks. Networking supports a start-up’s stand in the market with updated information exchange that is in tune with the latest trends.

6. Are you listening?
Bill Gates, Founder of Microsoft states: “Every day we’re saying, ‘How can we keep the customer happy? How can we get ahead in innovation by doing this?’… because if we don’t, somebody else will.”

There are three elements in your business: you, the product, and the customer. Even if start-up owners are of the opinion that the business model was well-designed to suit the needs of your audience, turning a deaf ear to reviews and feedback can prove to be detrimental. Many start-ups fall short of providing customer satisfaction and thus lose their audience to their competitors. Furthermore, feedback from your audience is the best means to ascertain whether your business strategy is fruitful. Paying close attention to their needs can strengthen goodwill and efficiency and in turn enhance the overall performance of your business.

Taking and incorporating advice from veterans can produce sure-fire results that can support start-up owners through the challenges that they face while trying to set their foot in the market. With time, complex business situations can emerge that cause crushing pressures and stressful market competition, causing a start up to fall by the wayside. However, a piece of advice always comes in handy, induces motivation and direction and gets you going through it all.


Manika Dhupar is a Content Specialist at WeYou Partners, and an entrepreneur.

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