Welcome to the Workshop – “How to be an entrepreneur in a week?” – Is it how you build a Sustainable Business?!
Well, unfortunately, with the rise of the startup ecosystem in the country, there has been some deleterious blend of this kind of mentality as well. How can someone teach the rules of being an entrepreneur? On top of that, how can someone fix a time frame for the same? This maybe because we see several self-proclaimed entrepreneurs around us nowadays. Many of them are starting a so-called company just to get the tag of “founder”, “co-founder”, “CEO” etc.
If we are seeking development, we seriously need to stop holding and attending these kinds of events and workshops. We need to focus more on the serious stuff – how to keep employees happy, how to make money and NOT raise funds, how to satisfy customer needs and how to keep customers happy, how to grow and expand.
With the headlines hitting news of funding now and then, terms like “Series A”, “Series B”, “acquisition”, ”merger” etc. sound very pleasant. Revolution is happening for sure – from 3100 startups in 2014 to a projection of more than 11,500 by 2020; this is certainly not anything just to let go! But I don’t call this development although the numbers are telling. Sustainable business is one that grows in terms of profits and not just valuations with millions filed in loss every quarter.
People, today, before starting up claim to build the next “million-dollar company” and after starting up run after VCs and Angels. How many of them survive? Very few! Because most of them are not focusing on providing value to the ecosystem or satisfying customer needs. How many of them reach out to their clients to ask about their service or product? How many of them ask themselves if their customers will buy again? If not, why? Again, very few! And how many of them can be called innovations and not just copy-cats? How many Indian startups have clones in any different part of the world? The answer is again negative, right?
Startups may raise funds in bulk, but VCs are certainly not there for providing help. They have poured money into a company to look forward to an exit. If your company can’t provide that, then it is certainly just another bot in the system. Focus on building a real business so that it is YOU who set your companies’ value and not the VCs. Don’t invite the investors to take a share of something you have built day in and day out. If you are adding value, if you are building a sustainable product, then rest assured, the VCs will themselves come to you.
Time and again I hear stories of layoffs, shutdowns, etc. Every startup is trying to become unicorns. They are spending money blindly for customer acquisition without providing value in the real sense. Many of them are working to expand into multiple geographies and focusing more on horizontal expansion rather than vertical. And in this process, they are losing not only money but valuable talents. The question is how long this can go on! If employees are not happy, your business is going to suffer for sure.
Employees come first! Not the VCs, not even the customers! Your employees are the one who hold the same vision as you and take your company to the next level – to the level YOU desire. They are the face of your company who represent you before the customers. If you can’t keep your employees happy, you are certainly not the deserving one in the race!
After your staff comes your customers. Investors are probably the last one in the list. If your company doesn’t have customers, who are you building your business for? “Customer acquisition” is not just the most commonly heard term but is the fuzziest one as well! If you are providing something that the clients value, why will you need to put extra efforts to retain them?
They are going to become the recurring ones without you even asking them! Not only this. Even they may turn out to be the ones who will work as your marketing team! “Word of mouth” is certainly a powerful tool. A real startup’s job is not to pull customers but keep them happy and satisfied.
So, don’t run after money to start but grow. It’s very “easy” when it comes to raising capital and burning it blindly. But if you are a real entrepreneur, you would never ask for money knowing you won’t be able to return it at the right time. If your startup is losing money on every transaction, it is not a sustainable model.
Take your startup to a sustainable position and then try to get funds for investing in ‘real’ things. Don’t be a me-too company but build something which has it’s unique purpose. Even if it’s risky, it holds your insight. These will never give you a thought of getting acquired. Your startup is like your child which you love the most. If you work hard with a strong insight, the result will be much sweeter than you ever expected.
I would like to know your thoughts on this!
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