Creating a successful start-up is the dream of most developers across the globe. However, only a few make it to the finish line, let’s understand what can go wrong in each stage of a startups journey and discuss ideas to overcome common obstacles. Article by Dhiraj Khare – Manager Global partners at Liferay.in
- The Beginning:
- A startup should always be conceived around an innovative idea and promoters must have absolute clarity on the 4Ps (product, price, place and promotion).
- There should be a good a team mix such as.
- A very strong friendship/bond between the founders is important.
- A mix of skill sets is important.
- Registration & Starting Sales: This is an easy but important stage as under this an organization is registered as a particular type of organisation eg. Partnership, Private Limited or LLP having a website with clear list of offerings. Promotion and driving sales are a combination of various efforts like:
- Attending conferences
- Participating in hackathons
iii. Partnership with Technology providers and riding on their brand name
- Direct and Channel Sales Strategies
- Customer Success teams to retain accounts and get customers through referrals.
- Software Service and Product Start-up: It requires a different strategy to run a product versus a service company and priorities completely change based on the type of organization. Some important considerations are mentioned in below table:
|Sr.||Software Product Start-up||Software Services Start-up|
|1||Generic Skills are important||Product & Domain Specific Skill-Sets are important|
|2||Focus on creativity, innovation and open culture.||More focus on timelines and six sigma delivery process.|
|3||People tend to do new things everyday||People tend to do same thing again and again|
|4||Lots of seed investment till product takes off and post that its high margin business.||Practically zero seed required if all employees are billable but in competitive market you cannot sit on huge cash flow only on body shopping model hence diversification is required for full lifecycle project and for other operational and consulting services.|
|5||Caution: Founders tend to deviate from the original idea by listening to advice from one set of customers/ well-wishers. This can clouds vision.||Caution: Identity of a service company has to be with what a junior most employee can do and cannot be compared with the skill sets of founders.|
|6||Biggest Strength: Product Idea, skill sets, and vision of core founders.||Biggest Strength: Pool of skill sets and efficiency utilizing skill sets.|
- Midway Challenges: Most cases VC’s come to fund a start-up when they are almost certain of its survival and growth with its own retained earnings. Key aspects to consider when you are in midway of your journey of being successful:
- Cashflow: Cash flow to a business is as important as oxygen to humans, only difference is in start-ups it’s not available in abundance. Hence:
- Pay employees and founders more in the form of equity or RSU and other future benefits and less in cash
- Strict payment terms with your customers and avoid invoicing delays
iii. Use cost effective office space and hire self-motivated employees
- Avoid unnecessary travel and qualify the opportunity before putting efforts into it.
- Employee Attrition: Start-ups must spend time hiring and nurturing relationships with employees.
- Say No to Control Freak Management: Do not hire qualified people and keep interfering in their decisions.
- Don’t Fight, Try to Collaborate As Much As Possible: A market has enough opportunity for everyone and it does not make sense to unnecessarily compete all the time. Collaborate and decide on playing of each other’s strength.
- Changing the orbit: After the midway challenge, chances are high businesses will sail through. However, then comes the challenge of “what next”, you may have heard this statement from some of your entrepreneur friends. “Our growth is steady and we don’t know how to change gear or change the orbit and go to the next level”? This is where services companies want to become product companies and product companies want to venture into services. In order to do so founders raise money (either by going public or going to investor). Yet even after raising money founders are not clear about where to invest and they keep spending money in all directions.
Those who survive do so because they devote significant time to plan their shift and knew where to spend and what to expect after spending.
The passion and excitement that accompany a startups journey are palpable during every stage. This is why many want to be part of the startup culture. A successful startup promises tremendous rewards yet navigating during each stage demands considerable care as well.