The Startup Fundamentals: Key to entrepreneurial success

Word for Startups

It was a pleasure to meet the budding entrepreneurs at Espark-Viridian and interact with them. Took me back to the days when I took charge at Siegwerk India as CEO and were just starting up in India. The difference being we were backed by a global group but the challenges were not easy while penetrating in the Indian market.  Understanding one’s own capabilities for each client and how one can help them in their market is very important at that stage. Addressing these startup challenges, I thought of penning down my views to drive their thought process and learning.

Content

The various interfaces for customers like the website should be the hook for the customer. It should have the content from the point of view of the visitor/customer and what is in it for them. It should also answer two major questions:

  • How the user will benefit from the services?
  • Which major user pain points will the services remove?

Competitive Analysis

Do a deep analysis of your competition. Not just their market share and strategy but even feature-by-feature. Only then will the entrepreneurs, as salespersons for their startups, be able to convince the customer about what makes them different from the competition. It is important for us to know and understand our competitive products thoroughly.

If you are meeting a customer who is using your competitor’s products or services, never criticize your competition in front of them. By doing that, you will actually be criticizing/challenging the customer’s decision.  Rather, appreciate their choice and respect it/respect competition. However, you must ask the customer which two additional features would they like to have in the products/services they are using to make the experience better. Listen to these pain points and work on them to win over the customer. Even if your products/services have the attributes that the customer is looking for, do not get excited and offer the same immediately. Instead, come back after a couple of days and give the customer a feeling that you have worked on his/her suggestions to offer the product that he/she wanted. Always remember, a price war will not get you anywhere on a long term sustainability basis.

Value System

The value system defines everything in the company which comes with trust amongst the employees, between employees and higher management. Trust comes by family culture – being transparent about policies, books, and client dealings.

It is the responsibility of the founder to build trust in the company – as a founder, as a team member, and as a service provider. The founder should have excellent communication skills to communicate not just the services but also the values and generate trust among employees and customers.

One of the good ways to build trust is to be clear and have full clarity/mutual understanding of expectations (what you expect from your team and what they expect from you). There should not be any mismatch in the expectations.

Focus

Focus on the customer pain points and get them to talk more about themselves rather than you talking about yourself. Customer acquisition should be the focus from starting up to reaching a respectable stage.  Post that, the focus should be on people management while one is heading towards growth. Also work on your competitive strategy, as your competitors will be countering too when you start acquiring their customers, so you have to stay two steps ahead of them.

Before going for any meeting, set an expectation in your mind about the end result you hope for in the meeting. Since every meeting is different, the route can be modified depending on the situation but the end result should be the aim.

Cash Flows

Last, but not the least, the most important part of any startup, or say, any business, is the cash flow.

Please take care of your business cash flows. The expense budget always gets exceeded and most of the startups struggle with the problem of cash shortage. Expense control and focus on revenue generation/collections must not be compromised. That is one of the primary keys to the success of a startup.

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