Developing countries have swiftly progressed into the land of opportunities aplenty. There has been no better time for start-ups to venture into the world of business. Governments are taking every initiative to curb taxes, improve upon existing exit policies and fund innovative entrepreneurs, to elevate their already burgeoning economy.
This being said, the adage “If you fail to plan, you are planning to fail” has few better applications. Having established the fact that this is the most opportune moment for start-ups, let’s delve into the intricacies of establishing a successful business.
Key steps to nurturing a business:
1. Research without bounds
From pinpointing a problem that needs a solution, to finding a viable solution to that problem, research holds the key to a successful start-up. It is important to note that there is no wasted research. The time spent on research will surely yield benefits when you look to optimize your process or economize your expenses. Read about the competitors in the industry and pick out the elements, which you think will work best for you. Of course, your research does not have to be laser-focused on any predetermined factor.
The point of research is to stumble upon fresh ideas, which becomes quite impossible when one has a mindset that focuses on success and not the process. It is essential to remember that success is always a by-product of a prudent process. Thinking about success without focusing on the process is energy wasted, which could have been used for intensive research. Studies have shown that the lack of competence, aided by the absence of thorough research, is the primary cause of failure in start-ups. In fact, 46% of start-ups had to wind up because of incompetence.
2. Plan for the present and future
Less than 50% of businesses make it past the 5-year-mark because of neglected forethought. Planning is an integral component of building a successful start-up. The interminable hours spent on planning is never inclusive of a wasted moment. It is part of the process to scrap obsolete plans in light of newer and better ones, but the lessons learned are forever priceless.
For any entrepreneur, learning goes hand in hand with building a business. However, to begin laying the foundation to a billion-dollar empire, planning is crucial. Remember, the business above is only as stable as the foundation below. It is certainly not sufficient to plan for your product and ignore the rest. In fact, the hardest task for attaining success is to sketch an intuitive blueprint for marketing. If your product remains unheard of in the market, it will never reach its potential, irrespective of its ingenuity.
3. Strategize your plan
After planning, it is important to get a flow in order. While doing so, it is very pedestrian to alter plans and make them more efficient. However, make sure that you don’t get sucked into the current and carried with the flow. Only dead fish go with the flow. If you want to get noticed, you must step up and ride the waves to success.
Change the direction of the current, if required, and show yourself in a new light to the market. Tiny nuances hold the key to getting recognized. For instance, custom URLs get noticed and clicked. To further exemplify, an online marketing campaign with a branded link such as www.mylnk.is/Top-of-the-line-laptops is more attractive to clicks than www.laptopxyz345.com. Not only does it convey a pertinent message, but also brands these laptops as the best in the industry.
4. Choosing a business name
Though at a stage of nascence this may seem quite trivial, it is as vital as can be imagined. You want your business to be called by a catchy, yet meaningful, name. Remember, the name that you choose will live with you for the rest of your business’ life. Changing a name after establishing oneself in the market is suicidal. It is for this very reason that Toyota launched a separate line of luxury cars under the brand name of Lexus.
To change the name Toyota or add another segment of cars under the same brand name would be asinine, as brand loyal customers had already associated themselves with Toyota, its products and everything for which it stands. Under Armour, the U.S. based organization that overtook Adidas to rank second behind Nike for athletic equipment and apparel found its name through a fascinating sequence of events. After having his original idea for the name ‘Body Armor’ rejected for trademark issues, the founder, Kevin Plank, was excited by the name Under Armor, which was mentioned to him by his brother in passing.
However, the phone number for Under Armor (American spelling) was 888-44ARMOR. Therefore, Plank chose the British spelling and named his company “Under Armour’, the telephone number for which was 888-4ARMOUR. Such are the intricacies that should be considered before choosing a winning name.
5. Legal fortification
Probably the most tedious stopover in the journey to building a successful business is legal fortification. It is important to do it once, and right! You don’t want to waste precious resources on registering a business more than once.
It is tedious but is essential. Understand the license and permits required to produce and sell your products, and apply for relevant documentation. It is also important to choose the right accounting system for your business. In countries like the United States of America, where double taxation is the norm, you must spend time in assessing what works best for you.
6. Location, location, location…
Have more relevant words ever been stated? Let’s work backward here. An interested buyer will pay millions more to acquire a business in a prime location as opposed to one in a ghost town. Why? It is solely because location drives business. On a more intuitive level, people on a shoppers’ street are more likely to buy clothing items than people on a food street.
Online presence on the right websites and social media sites work in a similar fashion. In fact, it is more important to get your online location right than your physical location because the clutter on the internet is way more distracting to consumers than billboards on streets. However, it is essential to emphasize that being at the right location without getting noticed is self-destructive. Customization holds the key to getting noticed and none get more noticed than customized links to drive online traffic. There are quite a few providers of link customization and tracking. However, as a start-up, you want to pick the cheapest service available with competitive analytics.
7. There is no ‘I’ in team
It is said that you can walk faster alone, but with a team, you can walk further. It is also a known fact that anything that sprouts quickly is probably growing in scanty soil. Having said this, an explanation is in order. You cannot do everything on your own! But, sometimes, having a disruptive team is implosion prone. It is absolutely indispensable to handpick a team that is geared for success.
However, the latest trend of hiring disruptive talent has proved to be a game changer. Disruptive individuals have their quirks, but when given the freedom to work in their milieu, they are more productive than your best employees. Of course, it is a trade-off that you have to consider. If you are a stickler for process and order, then don’t hire a disruptive individual. But, if you want a game changer to catalyze your raise to the top, don’t overlook disruptive talent.
8. Turn your small business into a growing business
Branding is the key to growth. It does not have to be an expensive affair. Innovative means of branding get recognized because they are often offbeat. Moreover, they are cheap to implement.
In truth, the life of an entrepreneur is fraught with risks, which at most times isn’t worth the returns. However, with proper guidance and planning, most of the predictable risks can be mitigated, and returns can be scaled in keeping with the economies of scale. Starting a start-up has never been easier. But, success is the little light at the end of a dark tunnel. Start well, move steadily towards the light and success will surely dawn on you!
Neel Sinha is the creator of MyLnk. He is also the Founder & Principal Consultant at NFaktor and creator of the popular Comic Strip “Norman Liker.” He is an IIM alumni and an engineer with around 25 years of successful professional career. He has excellent exposure to diverse markets, products, and solutions. Neel has traveled the across the globe in sales and leadership roles. Connect with him on Twitter and LinkedIn.