So you have a brand-new yet unheard of idea and you are sure you can translate it into mega bucks. Great! And you’ve already started a small self-financed outfit to translate your idea into practical usage. That is fantastic. Welcome to the ever burgeoning tribe of startup entrepreneurs!
Entrepreneurship, per se, is a difficult proposition. Despite all the glamour currently associated with startups, the path of a startup entrepreneur is more of a roller-coaster ride through potholes rather than a smooth road-trip. For non-funded, bootstrapped ventures the going gets doubly difficult.
Having a great new business idea is one thing. Sowing the seeds of your startup is another thing. But sustaining your startup through the gestational period and beyond is a whole new ball game altogether. A startup entrepreneur needs to go through a lot of learnings, unlearning(s) and relearning(s); all this while trying to tide over the teething difficulties and steering through the extremely trying nursing period of your baby (your business).
But do not let my dire musings deter you from your chosen path.
Here’s a list of seven habits that will help you in your quest of the big idea.
Believe In Your Product
Belief in your product is the key to the ultimate success of your startup. Do not invest your energies in a product where your confidence is shaky. Or you are likely to have a doomed start. Instead, spend some more time on your drawing board. You will know when you have a winner in your hand. You will have a fully invested belief in this product. Go on out with this product and conquer the world.
Adopt a Fast Revenue-Generating Business Model
If you are a startup and also self-funded or bootstrapped it is most important that you choose a revenue model which will generate cash – FAST. The faster you make cash, the higher the probability of your business surviving and growing and higher the profitability you can expect.
Your Customer Is God
Make it the mantra of your business. With no one else (VCs and investors) holding your purse strings, you can focus your attention on your purse fillers – your customers. Focus on your target audience and customer satisfaction. Work towards familiarising your customer with your product/company. Work towards popularising your product/company amongst your target audience. Once you achieve this, the road ahead becomes easier. This is a significant benefit of having a non-funded startup.
Learn To Course Correct
Learn to course correct as soon as possible! For this learn to recognise the early signs of trouble. Learn to identify your problems early on before they become the proverbial millstones around your neck.
If things are not going according to plan get back to the drawing board. Take out your blueprint and rework on things which are not working. Diagnose why they are not working. If required, change your plans and policies. Be in tune with market trends and the socio-political-economic scenario and how they may affect your business – both in the short and the long term. Startups are also learning processes where you need to be ready for changes and challenges. BUT DON’T GIVE UP!
Separate Your Business And Personal Expenses
While this point may not be high on your attention list, it is a small but very crucial aspect of running a business. Separate and exclusive business records tell you the entire financial and accounting story. You will know what is coming in, how much is coming in and what is going out and where it is going out. It will be easier to handle your business expenses. You would also know how much money is available for plough back.
Keep Overhead Costs Low
Low overhead costs give you more cash in hand or plough back in business. Employ some cost cutting ideas like:
- a. Hiring interns – Especially when you are just starting out. They are usually an enthusiastic lot, and the associated cost is much less than regular employees.
- b. Low-cost business premise – Start from a rented place and then once you are established you may move on to your own premise.
- c. Be resourceful – Don’t shy away from any resources easily available to you. Even your own family members may just have some hidden strengths. Recognise them and capitalise on them.
Trust Your Gut
Being bootstrapped is not all that bad. It can be a boon in disguise too. Recognise this strength and leverage it to the utmost. You are your own master, free to chart out your own path, free to focus on crucial areas with nary a worry to please the money monsters err…masters. Since you are answerable to only yourself, learn to trust your gut feel all the time.
A non-funded startup is a very productive way to learn. It gives you the liberty to take a risk and understand the market. You have full control over your business, and you can take it in what direction where you want.
Being self-funded and bootstrapped can be very exhilarating, invigorating and liberating!