Harbouring an idea in your head is one thing. Taking the leap of faith to execute, nurture and grow the idea is an entirely different ball-game. It calls for a new tribe of people that we call – Entrepreneurs.
Fortunately, this breed seems to be on the rise. They make this game look deceptively simple. However, nothing is farther from the truth.
Apart from the fact that you have to face a fair amount of social ire and family grumpiness, launching your own business and getting it off the ground comes with its unique set of challenges.
1. Finding the gap
Understandably, most entrepreneurs seek to meet a critical need in society that can be fulfilled by offering a product or service. When the product or service is planned well enough to meet the immediate need, it automatically leads to success. However, it is exceedingly hard to avoid the me-too trap and do it better or different than anyone else.
2. Limited resources
Launching a startup has to happen with full cognizance of its scarce resources. Your money tree will take months, years, sometimes even several years to sprout.
One of the most valuable lessons we can learn is that there are several tools and apps for various functions that have grown all over the internet to help us overcome this resource limitation that startups acutely suffer from.
3. Raising Funds
Raising funds with investors is seen as a direct combat for the “limited resources” challenge outlined above. As it happens, funding for startups is more abundant. But, it does not mean all entrepreneurs are created equal. Data shows that the biggest, well-established ventures have a better possibility of attracting investors. This could mean a disproportionately poor chance for entrepreneurs who haven’t been able to amass a client base on their-their own.
Startups should learn to treat these meetings with investors as learning opportunities, even if they do not get funded. As founder of DealDash, William Wolfram says, “It’s free advice, and a founder should walk away with ideas on what their gaps and next steps should be.”
4. Too much advice
When you are a startup founder, many will come forward with tips and techniques to make it work. As much as founders need advice, it’s critical that they aggressively glean the ones they stick to.
In the words of Laakso, CEO of Rival Games. “If we listened to everyone, we’d be chasing our own tails.”
5. Human Capital
Needless to say, one of the biggest assets for a startup will be its people. In many cases, the people are the company’s only assets. Finding top talent who can also culturally fit into your vision for the company is a tricky challenge. This is only compounded by the fact that most startups are yet to define HR policies. Identifying gaps in skill sets and knowledge and actively building your team early on can make a huge difference. At different stages of your startup, you need people who have unique skillsets and this is what makes or breaks the company.
6. Strategy Vs. Execution
Most successful entrepreneurs have not succeeded at a brand new idea. They have succeeded in executing it well. You may have a fantastic strategy, but as this Harvard Business Review article affirms, “ A strategy can never actually be fully implemented because everything that you necessarily assumed when formulating it — about customers, technology, regulation, competitors, and so on — is in a constant state of flux.” This essentially means that the differentiator is often in the execution.
7. Stigmatizing failure
One of the key survival tactics for a startup is to learn to celebrate failures. Even if an entrepreneur sees several of those coming and is well-prepared, one of the best ways to sweeten the experience is by having truly tested something new and exciting.
Supercell, a 3-year old company behind very popular iOS apps, celebrates every product failure with champagne.“We get a lot from that failure. The champagne is to celebrate what we learned,” says CEO Ilkka Paananen.
8. Distractions from a growing market
With technology moving at an incredible speed, keeping up with the changing trends is a veritable challenge for startups.
Tim Cadogan, CEO of OpenX says, “It’s important to build into the future that lasting products that can deliver value. However, it is also important to not be distracted by new projects, technologies or markets at the risk of losing sight of the niche market they need to carve for themselves.”
To round it all up, it’s an excellent time to be an entrepreneur. Countless opportunities exist, and more and more free resources are available to entrepreneurs than ever before.
Tapping into these resources and advice effectively can be the thin line between the success or failure of a startup.
This article was written by Devishobha Chandramouli.