Most of us dream of making it big. The explosion of mainstream and social media has beguiled readers with stories of rich and famous people. Successful people talking about their ventures, products and profitability after their start-up/business success. All these make you wonder if one day, you could also get the pot of gold at the end of the rainbow.
Starting a business involves rewiring thoughts and attitudes; here’s a way NOT to start up:
Read too many success stories
This one’s tough. I remember reading ‘Rich Dad Poor Dad’ and being mesmerized by Kiyosaki’s explanation of ‘business quadrants’ and investments. I thought it was so easy I just had to absorb it all and start that very moment – reading it was, after all, the first step. I was wrong. Kiyosaki’s book mentions how he started and met with failure – which is the essence of business. Starting and failing and doing it again, and this is the part I conveniently glossed over.
Our favorite cases are only helping to keep some sort of romantic image in our minds about starting up – but these stories are not yours. Instead, they should spur you to cultivate a mindset of business and get real.
So, get in the groove first and be prepared to get smacked down before you ride your way to success!
A simple ‘Match’ test
Try this. Imagine a day of being in charge of a business – no really, visualise it.
– Do you like what you see? A typical day requires extremely long hours, especially in the startup phase. Do you see yourself working that hard without a tinge of frustration or exhaustion?
– This could be a day when you have to put out fires, generally run around to tackle and solve problems. A thousand decisions are to be taken and as circumstances would have it, it just seems like you have to take all the decisions!
– Imagine having customers at an early stage and dealing with sales, servicing problems, irate customers, etc. Facing office issues, payment problems, various other paperwork and dealing with all sorts of people. These are some of the nagging issues of a business. If you don’t think you would be comfortable with these – delay your decision to step into the business landscape. After all, instead of being a firefighter you could be very successful in your job!
Failure is almost always a part of the business journey. Money, great ideas, talent may not get you there – and you feel like even this right mix is not crystallising into your destiny yet and you just don’t know why or what to do about it. This is a critical situation to be factored into a decision. One has to be mentally agile, strong enough to face any backlash, the constant chatter of friends and family telling you ’I told you so…’, disappointment, over-analysis of what’s happening to you and fighting the urge to give it all up and take up a stable job and so on. If you are too security conscious to deal with failure, you are an uneasy candidate to fit the bill… It’s just that simple.
THE BUSINESS ARENA
Now that we are finally in the Colosseum with the other gladiators there is good news: You are in a privileged place where ordinary people can’t go – you are prepared to face the stakes and get on the path to achieving your dream, finally. This is the stage where you sharpen weapons, study the arena and empower yourself. Let’s get aware of some skills:
The really cool thing which you have and many didn’t have way back, is the Internet. The Digital domains throw up huge opportunities to network, upskill and develop business. You can actually get thousands of potential customers for your product or service. You can sell to targeted customers and write books easily accessible for your readers. So, you have to be aware of information technology and the online landscape. Get yourself to develop these habits and get some training. There are certification courses and many people to help you along.
ANALYTICAL / ACCOUNTING SKILLS
Can be best developed by acquiring the analytical mindset – yes, it can be acquired. The test of sales or business revenue is no longer the only benchmark to judge business success. Metrics like:
- Ease of doing business.
- Quality of service.
- Dealing with huge data sheets.
- Shaking and stirring; finding the right combination can help you start up with the best partners.
- The accounting orientation puts you in touch with the figures and numbers – so Excel is useful.
In business, the maxim is sales. In fact, selling may well take priority over the first two points in this section. No amount of analysing and planning will be useful unless you have an idea of where your product stands. You have to first get down to selling and have a real-time perspective of your customers. Set realistic sales goals. Avoid percentage projections and track what you sell. And you can only do this when you have gone out and sold stuff – EUREKA!
TEAM SKILLS / SPOTTING TALENT
‘Team’ is a loose term for a group of people who are willing to work for you, come rain or shine. It’s not as simple as it sounds. People are hard to handle and these relationships can easily lead to fallouts. Ensure that the team you choose is better than you on some levels. Teamwork is all about filling up gaps and deficiencies so don’t assume you are good in all departments. You have to be able to spot talent which can replace you in some aspects. If you are in business for the long haul, at least make sure that you are able to carry your team through.
This may not be a hard and fast approach to setting up a business, but can be a road-map to those willing to go the distance. While I don’t claim expertise over other, more qualified analysts, I do know that you can’t go wrong with these mantras and can make yourself just a little stronger to face the challenges of starting up. All I have done is to combine a little research and a little experience to piece this together.