India is seeing a new wave of entrepreneurship with youngsters wanting to experiment and take risks. Also with Modi government relaxing the norms for Start-ups and more than 65% of the population under 35 years of age, the Indian start-up ecosystem is at an inflection point and is expected to be bigger than Silicon Valley.
Starting a business is a journey of successes and failures. The figures speak for themselves: more than one in three would-be entrepreneurs think about starting a business every day, but 78% say they are afraid they’ll fail.
Being an entrepreneur is all about drive and determination to make it happen. According to me, success is a journey and not a destination and failure is a part of the journey. These are the five must-do tasks for a start-up to give itself the best chance of success.
Understanding The Legal Procedures And Documentation
While taking your product out in the market and increasing its customer base is the main task but it’s important that every entrepreneur gets his/her legal accounting and tax ducks in a row. If not kept in order, it can lead to loss of time and money, when it’s needed the most.
It’s important to devote time to choose the right legal entity you want to operate your business through. Get the necessary registrations in place and understand the personal legal liability aspects and the filing and tax requirements of your company vehicle. It’s important to not miss registration or filing deadlines and payment dates. Penalties can quickly mount up into unexpected and damaging cash outflows.
Also if you are employing staff, understand your legal responsibilities as an employer and any PAYE requirements. While these can be a little tedious, they are critical to running and growing a successful business.
Knowledge & Research
Research is important in any business and is your best friend to gain knowledge about the competition, establish your unique selling proposition and define your target audience and target market.
Ask yourself: who are your competitors? How successful are they? The more you know, the better position you’ll be in. Understanding what your competitors do well will give you a good idea about what your customers are looking for in a service or product. Lots of aspiring entrepreneurs I meet are obsessed with inventing something new. While that can be the motivation, Entrepreneurs can also look at taking something and making it better.
Related Article: Indian Startup Ecosystem – In A Sweet & Sour Spot
To do this, you need to establish your USP. List your business attributes and evaluate how well you meet those needs on a scale of one to five.
Remember, just because someone currently has a position in a market doesn’t mean they’re delivering on it. If you can do it better, make it known. Perhaps excellent customer service is your USP – you place particular pride on engaging with your customers. It’s important to communicate that.
Think about your target audience and develop the business around them. Consulting your customers will make them feel they have a voice; will breed loyalty and, if you’re lucky, will increase the likelihood of them recommending you to others.
Starting a business is very expensive. Before you even think about paying for marketing materials, you need to consider simple infrastructure costs.
Luckily, the proliferation of funding options has rocketed in the last couple of years. It’s important to shop around rather than taking the first thing you find, because having no money and running a business does not work.
You need to find something that works for you. Perhaps you would benefit from the mentoring possibilities of angel investment? Maybe crowdfunding is the answer, or applying for funding through the government-funded Start-Up Loans?
Your pitch should be a careful blend of product information, business research and include a personal CV. Funders and investors want to know that their money is in the hands of someone who has failed as he has learnt his lessons from making mistakes. Investors invest in people first and then ideas. I want to know the credentials of the person that is going to be the custodian of my money. Structure your pitch to have product/service related information, the credentials of the key individuals, market research, market positioning and financial breakdown.
Marketing is the key to creating awareness and build loyalty for any business. It is the secret formula to successful business model. The truth is, the more effort you put into developing marketing campaigns, using social media and networking, the more successful you will eventually be.
Nothing comes easy – and marketing is no exception. It’s been great to witness a shift in entrepreneurship this year.
People want to know the names, faces and personalities behind their favourite products, brands and services, so from the beginning make it clear who you are and what you do. You really need to take time to think about the face, name and personality of your brand – will the company tell its own corporate story, or will you tell it directly? Once you have decided, you need to increase your social media presence.
Become a thought leader in your industry by sharing interesting content with your followers and encouraging them to engage. I find blogs extremely useful.
It is the people who breathe life into a business. The best way to scale your business is to surround yourself with the best people. This concept can be applied to potential new staff, customers and business partners.
It’s important that you’re not alone. Owning your own business can be lonely if it’s just you, the yellow pages and an office (I know). You should already have an idea about the kind of people you want to bring into your business and be thinking about the long-term advances.
Even if you are a one-man-band now, the minute you start becoming successful you will need to find a finance person, a marketing person, an admin assistant … the list goes on. Factor this into your business planning, especially if you are looking to pitch for funding.
About The Author
[The author of this post is James Caan – CBE – Serial Entrepreneur, CEO of Hamilton Bradshaw Private Equity. Former Dragon, Founder of the James Caan Foundation & Former Chairman of Start – up loans.]