Everyone has an idea, 1 in 10 get started, 1 in 100 get funded and 1 in 1000 reach some kind of scale. What decides which become successful?There is a lot of talk these days about entrepreneurship, specifically focusing on Ideas and fund-raising – how to make a business plan, elevator pitch etc.
I would like to talk about the third part, i.e. EXECUTION. In my experience of building large businesses, it really is all about executing well. So here are my top 3 Dos and Don’ts if you are an early stage entrepreneur.
3 Things You DO
Radiate unreasonable passion
You have got to believe what you are doing is important. You need to sell your story to a lot of people, and unless you believe it yourself, you will not be able to convince others. Successful entrepreneurs seem to be kicked about something for no apparent reason and their passion tends to be infectious. It goes beyond rationality and hence I call it unreasonable. Steve Jobs believed that he was putting a dent in the Universe pretty early at Apple.
Have intense customer focus
Direct and meaningful contact with customers is like gold dust for early stage entrepreneurs. Whether paying or not, customer are GOD. Its important to be in close touch with them to understand what their real needs are and how you are being able to solve them since that is shaping your products.
While you need to be excited about what you are doing, consistent execution requires a lot of discipline. Often, being an early stage company, there might be a lot of parallel tasks running, however night-outs are not going to make them happen. Focused and disciplined execution, with a normal workweek goes a long way in keeping the consistency high.
3 Things You DON’T
Hire a team that needs to be motivated
If you are thinking about hiring HR to figure out compensation plans and employee motivation, you are probably headed in the wrong direction. You need an early team who buys into your unreasonable passion and has the ability to self-motivate. You should continuously drill passion, not motivation.
Solve to scale too early
I know stories how when Flipkart was small, the founders themselves used to pack books and ship them and take customer service calls. They knew this would not scale, but it didn’t stop them from doing it. Sometime you think too long term – how will this scale. You start solving for scale too early without understanding the real needs and possible solutions. If you keep solving customer problems to the best of your ability at the time, solutions tend to keep presenting themselves.
Don’t solve for problems that don’t exist just yet.
Spend without a plan
Cash is king as a small entrepreneur and you want to watch out for cash. At the same time, there are investments that need to be done and you don’t want to be penny foolish. You want to execute professionally. Create an operating plan, a budget. Even if you have to revise it every 2 weeks, have a baseline. Align accounting to that. It goes a long way.
Entrepreneurship is hard, specially in early stages. It’s also a lot of fun though if you stay true to your vision and stay focused on solving customer problems to the best of you ability. And stay kicked!
[Rajul is a co-founder of GlobalLogic, a global leader in R&D outsourcing with offices in 8 countries and over 6,000 employees. Earlier, he was also a founder of Pine Labs, a leader in point of sales transactions in India. His latest venture, Sunstone Business School focuses on creating future CEOs for the technology industry. Rajul has also consulted with various VCs including Seqouia and Battery Capital and is an active angel investor. Rajul is a 1998 batch Computer Science Graduate from IIT Delhi.]