[Edit Notes: Often, we smart from our experiences, good and bad. If you note them down and go back to them reading it once in a while, you’d see how much better you get at not repeating our mistakes or repeating our successes. In this post, Ram Nutakki makes one such list from his experiences.]
The entrepreneurial spirit in India is at an all time high as many first generation entrepreneurs are passionate about setting up their shops with innovative products and services. From my years of being an entrepreneur, I’ve put together some commandments for startuppers. It’s something that I try to follow and tell others when I can. My intention is not to pin down the deficiencies in ecosystem or to curse any stakeholder.
Readiness: Get ready to be kissed by failure first and treat the success as surprise in the journey of entrepreneurship.
Commitment: The act of entrepreneurship is not a part-time affair but a 24/7 job. It may cost your family, compromise on your lifestyle, financial instability and chances of getting consumed by flames of startup life if you are unable to manage those highs and lows. It is your ‘commitment to continue’ that counts in such times and nothing else.
Opportunities: Don’t just wait for an obscure idea to happen, rather explore the obvious opportunities which are around you. Blue Swans may not fly very often but one can easily spot the unfulfilled or under-fulfilled consumer/business needs.
Multiplier: Idea and execution complements each other, wherein execution is worth millions and idea is just a multiplier. So don’t get obsessed with your ideas but assess your ability to execute by having right team.
Incubation: Entry to any incubator or accelerator program is not a gate pass to the next round of funding due to the fact that mortality rate of startups is no different whether you are incubated or not. Progress is the only key to command better valuation in every successive round of funding.
Value Proposition: Unless your product/service is actually delivered in most demanding circumstances to the intended customer segment, don’t conclude your value proposition while testing the hypothesis with the help of business tools or frameworks or methodologies.
VFM=ROI: When you can treat your early customers as investors and make sure to deliver better value for money (VFM), your business can convince about its ROI for any investor.
Scalability: Don’t be a mere number cruncher to prove the economies of scale. The real metrics of economies of scale are qualitative in nature like human capital, tacitness of your business, supply chain dynamics and market dynamics.
Purpose: Be a Marwari first to question the day-to-day purpose of your business and a Parsi next to demonstrate the higher purpose of your existence.
People: You should have the ability to judge the people by their intentions first, by their actions next and last by their words or else get ready to be ditched.
Timelines: Don’t plot the timelines while banking on your individual capabilities but factor in the tenacity and resolve of your team members and service partners.
Insights: Never ever expect people to come back with insights when they are tuned to work against instructions. It takes ages to reverse this behavior and any attempt to alter their behavior may lead to resistance towards change and affects their basic performance.
Attrition: Start worrying if you don’t have attrition in your startup due to the fact that you may be surrounded by people who are here because they can’t be elsewhere.
Myopia: Don’t get struck by strategies everyday without executing the plan to witness the desired results. At the same time, you should not fall prey for strategic myopia.
Eye Candy: Don’t build an eye candy business with an intention to get acquired while leaving the basics to chance. Any attempt to tap one such great endeavor can adversely impact your entrepreneurial image and effects further growth prospects of your venture.
Partners: Be wise to choose your service partners who can stay focused on their core abilities while working with startups and entrepreneurs. Part ways, as soon as possible, with those partners whom you sense have developed a crush for your business and think of replicating it.
Academicians: Be an economist yourself instead of approaching an academician if you are in need of new economic theory for your market. Because most of our academicians are busy acquiring new qualifications, publishing papers/books/research articles and counting number of years in service but not filing patents or solving any real-world challenges.
Mentors: Don’t assume that advisors or mentors who work out of their passion for little time can change the fate of your business without a skin-in-the game approach. No one else can mentor you than yourself, if you can be your own critic.
Investors: French kiss is not just enough. Learn the art of locating the investors’ G-Spot to make them horny about your model. You have to be a real expert to do so and you can only learn it while failing couple of times. Still you may be unlucky if they have nervous disorders!
Eco-System: Ask what you can do for your local startup ecosystem than questioning what ecosystem did for you? By doing so, you may find yourself staring at the roadmap to build your own ecosystem.
[ About the Author: Ram Nutakki is a first generation entrepreneur who also advises and mentors startup enthusiasts through online media platforms, idea validation camps and startup events. Connect with him on LinkedIn.]
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