Startups are the in-thing in the world of entrepreneurship. There’s something ‘cool’ about founding a venture, getting it all smartened up by technology, and scaling it up quickly. And if you’re luckier than most, you’ll cash in pretty handsomely before you exit from the business you’ve built. Alternatively, you could stay on and steer it to unicorn status.
The reality is that the startup landscape is as littered with the debris from dead projects as it is with opportunities for real growth. It’s a tough landscape to navigate. Unless you’ve got the right ingredients to make it work, your plans may wind up in the scrapyard of dreams, like the vast majority of startups have.
In Nigeria, available data suggests that up to 80% of businesses fail before they’re five years old. That’s a grim statistic, one which should concern entrepreneurs, whether they’re newbies or experienced at what they do.
The good news is you can make it work if you really want to. There may be variables that you will not have that much of an influence over, and they may be important in determining how your startup plans turn out. But you can succeed at building something truly significant if you pay attention to the details of the processes that really matter.
Let’s say you’re launching a startup. Maybe you have a very interesting solution to a widespread problem, one that a lot of persons will be willing to pay for. How do you transform it into a viable concern? How do you take it from ideation to a structure that’s solid, profitable and sustainable?
Here’s a five-step guide to your startup’s ideal destination (or long-term path).
1. Set Out to Solve a Real Problem
Don’t go ahead with a plan to build something if there’s no real need for it. The technology you want to deploy may be new; that’s acceptable to an extent. Just be sure you’re applying it to issues that are relevant where your market is at.
Maybe small businesses want better digital payment systems; you could help fill that gap if you’re up to it. But there’s no proven demand for, say, a digital tombstone. Stay with the big concerns- including the ones hidden in plain sight –and provide solutions to those.
It’s worth remembering that you’ll be much better off tackling issues you’re truly passionate or knowledgeable about. This makes it less difficult for you to deal with them from the get-go.
2. Learn as Much About the Landscape as You Can
Who are your ideal customers? What about your would-be competitors– what are they up to? Do you know the industry well enough?
Study the space you’re about to delve into. Try to get a feel of what it’s like there- its past, current trends, possible future, key players, major issues, and the composition and workings of the ecosystem. Connect with people who are already running businesses there, and find out what the opportunities and challenges they face. Ask a lot of questions. Get all the answers you can. Decide your approach to dealing with the drawbacks they tell you of, just in case you eventually encounter them yourself.
Research the market and collect as much information as you’re able to reach. Many startups fail because they headed out into the world without knowing what they were going to be up against. You don’t want to end up the way they did.
3. Master Your Niche
Now, turn your thoughts to credibility and trust issues. What will make your clients trust you? Why will investors be confident that you’ve got what it takes to run the venture and generate the returns they’re looking for?
Your would-be investors and clients will trust you if you prove that you’re an expert at what you do. And in order to become an expert, you have to master your niche.
You should know the technologies and processes on which your business will run. Take this with a good grasp of the problems your startup will be solving, and you’ll be well on your way to becoming an authority in your space.
4. Get Hiring and Partnerships Right
You will need to work with a partner who compliments your qualities and skills. In other words, they’ll ideally fill in for the aspects of technical expertise (and even temperament) in which you’re deficient, and vice versa. But don’t forget: you also want a co-founder (or co-founders) who you can relate with on a human level. They should be people you can trust.
When you’re hiring for positions in your startup, you will have to be sure that your recruits are qualified enough for those roles, and fit well into the organizational culture you’re building.
5. Offer Great Products and Services
Top startups don’t thrive on the wings of public relations alone. They show the world that they have a great product that it needs. Sure, you might be dreaming of the day that your venture secures a million dollar investment and gets featured by global media outlets. But those aren’t the reasons why it exists. Besides, it can only outlive those milestones if it has a real, constantly growing clientele.
A reputation for offering great products is a solid base for building the chart-topping startup you hope to bring to life.
Featured image source: Livemint