Education

Stay ahead of the game

Attention, aspiring entrepreneurs...If you are planning to take the startup route, here are some guidelines to help you make it big

While there is no single playbook about what makes a startup succeed, over the years, I have started believing in a few things that I could consider almost universal.

1. The most important thing I tell founders is, always recruit to plug your weaknesses. You may be great at vision but poor at execution. You may be great at technical skills but may have poor business acumen. You may be an introvert, but after a point you and your team needs someone to sell the idea to the world, so you may need a charismatic salesperson in your core team. Taking a honest stock of what your own pros and cons and acting accordingly to build your core founding team goes a long way.

2. Build for yourself or in your circle of competence. When I see entrepreneurs building a product for a customer they don't know well, I get worried. If you haven’t worked in an industry or faced a pain point you are thinking of solving, most of the time it is never a good idea to pursue it. To add to that, some startups tend to build a product first and then go to customers to take feedback. Again, bad idea. Getting feedback before you start building anything can save you tonnes of time and money. So, do not assume you can see a pain point without diving deep into conversations with your potential customers.

3. A good team at an early stage should have implemented restricted stock with vesting even before investors ask for it. For the uninitiated, vesting means the process through which the company can buy back a co-founders equity in case he or she decides to move out of the company earlier than a pre-agreed tenure. The tenure generally is four years, but that really depends on how the founders agree between themselves. The thumb rule is that the longer the vesting period, the better it is. Founder vesting is an insurance policy for all team members involved.

4. Never worry about the press. Startups are over celebrated by the press most of the times. In a startup’s journey, there will be times when everybody keeps talking about your competitors and how they are absolutely crushing it, raising a ton of money, hiring executives from the best B-Schools and so on.

Always ignore the noise. It is not like your competitors aren’t worried about the same issues as you are. The startups that keep their head down and keep at it are the ones that win, eventually.

5. Know when to let go. Many a times, founders are so in love with what they have created or trying to create, they fail to have the right perspective on whether they are really building a solution to a problem or building a solution that needs to find a problem to solve. Stepping back, once in a while, and re-examining the startup’s mission is always a good thing.

6. Ideas are dime a dozen. Execution is all that matters. Ideas are 1%, execution is 99%. A great outcome comes from real hard work not just a random eureka moment.

The writer is the co-founder and CEO of WebChutney

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Printable version | Mar 29, 2020 12:10:26 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/education/stay-ahead-of-the-game/article25411006.ece

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