Those of you familiar with the term will know that lately, “the term startup has been associated mostly with technological ventures designed for high-growth.Paul Graham, founder of one of the top startup accelerators in the world, defines a startup as: A startup is a company designed to grow fast. Being newly founded does not in itself make a company a startup. Nor is it necessary for a startup to work on technology, or take venture funding, or have some sort of “exit.” The only essential thing is growth. Everything else we associate with startups follows from growth.” (as described by Wikipedia).
But to what extent is the word “growth” applicable to any company nowadays? In this crude economical landscape that we live in, any new attempt to create or materialize any idea into the market is really most of the times a temerity. Developing a sound business plan, detecting your core target, selecting the most appropriate corporate image and philosophy, finding the most suitable financing plan (and not get crushed in the process) are just a few of the many steps an entrepreneur needs to take in order to set up its start up. Oh, and let’s not forget about the most important thing: the PRODUCT! Finding your niche in the market is one of the most challenging quests you can think of. Many tend to forget that it is mainly about the product, in itself, at its core… Just like Steve Jobs used to say, give the consumer what YOU want, not what they need.
One of my most cherished experiences was taken its shape last year, when my husband and I decided to open an online tea shop. The process was breathtaking and exciting, having so many plans and hopes that made us lose track of time while thinking about brand names, logos, packaging, web page design and so on. I have to admit that for me it was such a sweet challenge that working my day job and then coming home to more work on the store was nothing compared to the idea of owning a business.
I guess the excitement of developing a really cool and well done web page made us forget of something super important: financing the business. In our case, we just founded the initial amount with our own money, not having any experience at all in starting something from scratch. I wouldn’t say it was a huge mistake, but a mistake it was, because we didn’t really think about a long term financing plan, but rather a short term approach.
So, lesson nº 1, start-upers out there: do not forget about the medium and long term issues that may appear in your newly created business. Even if you absolutely LOVE your product and business, allow yourself a small possibility of something going wrong and having a back-up plan for it, ’cause unexpected things can happen.
I don’t want to sound patronizing as many entrepreneour wannabes often do, so here is just a lesson nº 2 that you might find useful: ask for as many opinions as you can! And, honestly, if I were you, I wouldn’t ask friends or family, as they tend to be bias. Ask strangers. Register to crowd funding sites and get people’s feedback. So here is a list of the eight Crowd funding Sites For Social Entrepreneurs according to Forbes:
There are, obviously, some local sites available in each country, but in my opinion, it is far more interesting to get opinions from elsewhere… So kickstarted.com would be a great start!
By the way, we finally had to sell our online store just months after launching it (had several reasons to do so) and as sad as I was when transferring it to this really nice girl, I realize now that it was for the best. We’ve learned a lot and experimented with a concept that was challenging but most rewarding and were able to achieve that experience that we’ll need for the next project.
So, as many say (and I think it is so true), in business, as in life, who never failed means that never tried. Don’t give up, but listen to others, learn from mistakes and LOVE what you do, no matter what. That’s what’s going to get you through the day in the end. Oh, an one more thing… “The default state of any new idea is failure…go against your instinct, confront the ordinary, and put up a fight”.