Of late, a lot of friends and acquaintances have contacted me wanting to know about the ups and downs of a startup journey. What they are actually interested in knowing is whether it would be worth for them to leave their well-paying jobs and take the High Risk Uncertain Reward path of starting their own venture.
One common thing I find among the people who contact me regarding this information assimilation is that most of them express dissatisfaction with the donkey work that they have to undergo for the first 29 days of the month to make the 30th day have a say. For what it’s worth, I can totally relate to what my friends are going through.
The idea of becoming an entrepreneur in majority of such cases thus stems from an innocent but flirtatious thought of adding a few colours to this monotone workday and working on one’s own ideas. But the caveat is that no one seems to be sure as to whether the plunge would be worth the risk.
If this sounds like you, let us discuss first things first before we move on to the risks.
When it comes to adding zing to a workday, start-ups are as interesting as it gets – when you are starting up, the typical monotonous day ceases to exist. Each day comes with a new set of promises and newer challenges, the going gets excitingly creative and involves lots and lots of hard work. You get to meet a lot of inherently different and learnedly cool people, and in between you get to be involved in creative designing, developing, testing and innovative thinking.
But, that’s the bright and chubby part which all of us look forward to from our perceptions ingrained in our subconscious minds through movies like the Social Network and Pirates of the Silicon Valley. But before entrenching on the other side of this green grass, let us walk through one of the most widely used, albeit misinterpreted quotes that I have heard from people taking the entrepreneurial plunge without thinking it through –
Plan A. Because there is no Plan B.
But just a quick glance at the start-up failure rates in India and across the World makes you wonder – what if you don’t have a Plan B and after months and years of hard work, your Plan
A doesn’t work? That would be a sure shot way to screw up plans C, D, E, F… that you might have had for your future.
Therefore, as the first strategic play in one’s entrepreneurial journey, one needs to realize that to succeed as an entrepreneur, they don’t have to be a full time entrepreneur from Day Zero.
Keeping this in mind, one of the best ways to succeed as a full time entrepreneur is to moonlight your way into a MVP (Minimum Viable Product) and run the pilot project for your product, gathering valuable user insights before you plunge full time into entrepreneurship giving away your advantage of you not being dependent on the time bound success of your idea to make a living.
But for those of us who, like me, believe in gambling big and risking it all, or those who believe in the saying about us becoming reluctant of Plan A if there exists a Plan B, the timing for taking the plunge becomes one of the most important strategic decisions that we can take. And to ensure that we start one up in this race, we need to take care of our Startup’s TRIP to make our entrepreneurial journey worthwhile.
And what exactly constitutes this Startup TRIP?
T – Team
Having a founding team that complements each other in skill sets becomes as important as the idea itself which this team is planning to work on. To avoid redundancy and conflicts later, your aim should to be define roles and responsibilities (including working titles) as early in this TRIP as possible.
R – Revenue Model
We have recently seen some huge investments in companies having no defined revenue models, with user acquisition being the industry buzz word behind the mammoth marketing budgets. I myself have heard a lot of founders say that they will figure out a revenue model for their idea later when they have enough users and that they should initially concentrate on building up a user base. But that is like setting yourself up for failure, successful businesses run on a vision, but the vision can be sustained for long if and only if there’s blood in the form of cash flow running through the organisation.
I – Investors
Choosing investors for your venture is like choosing a bride for your marriage. You might always think that there are better options available out there, but at the same time you need to realize that your business is not getting any younger. Having money to burn gives you an advantage over your competitors in the fledgling stages of your TRIP which might compound to substantial lead over a couple of years’ time. But having said that, it is up to you to guard yourself against child marriage – marrying too early and thereby committing to a much lesser valuation than you might have achieved shortly after.
P – Patience
Even in a successful marriage, you cannot give birth to a baby in 3 months by making 3 women pregnant. The same way, you cannot cut through the gestation period that is needed for you to give birth to your startup and product, no matter how painful the wait may seem. Once you bring the beta product out in the market, there would be many iterations depending on the feedback you receive from your first adopters. And even if you have taken the first three steps of the TRIP immaculately, patience will be the key to successfully completing the TRIP and realizing the full potential of what you have built.
Wishing you a successful TRIP!!