Things to keep in mind before Starting a Business
By Satish Raju | Founder & Director, Guru Media And Entertainment Group of Companies.
When you finally decide to start up, everything around you is exhilarating. It is scary, adventurous and there is a huge sense of entitlement. Once decided, your sense of being and participation is so high that the curve of a start up journey, almost always, is a ‘high high’.
I've started more businesses & explored than I'd care to admit in my 18-plus years of entrepreneurship. In my experience, it's a bit like driving through a heavy mist where you are only able to see a few feet in front of you – you don’t know what it is until it's upon you. However, the longer you are an entrepreneur, the better you can navigate through.
People call entrepreneurs ‘risk-takers’. I personally feel true entrepreneurship is about not taking risks at all. Along the way, have found people who have worked on zero-risk policy to be the most successful.
Listing down my thoughts and some of my personal observations learned meeting new entrepreneurs, building and growing my own businesses. Consider these "wish someone told me things before I started out myself”.
1) Do something you like.
Don't start something you think everyone else is doing. Don’t be part of something you can never relate to. Have found success because I intended to solve a problem that many faced.
I had invested and started a laundry firm back in 2002 because an opportunity presented itself. Needless to say, I couldn’t sustain it.
2) Don't listen to other’s caution.
People love to throw around the numbers. Yes, businesses fail. It’s because most people don't commit, they don't follow through to the end or they are bad at managing money.
Don't listen to that -- it's an excuse to make you feel comfortable about giving up. Trust me, there is magic in converting the non-believers to become your biggest fan.
3) Don’t be afraid of Sales.
You are your biggest seller. You can never outsource this. If its not something natural to you, hire a consultant. Watch him, Absorb him. There is no such thing as this is not something you are not good at.
If you hear your voice long enough presenting, you will get better and better. Invest in attending clubs like Toastmasters. Pretty soon, you will turn on the beast-mode.
4) Think of a name.
If its easy to pronounce and can help you tell a story. Stick with it. Get a professional designer to create a great business card. Remember your biggest sales man is your business card. It talks even when you are not around to tell a story.
If you don’t have a good story to differentiate, you will be lost. A great story just makes it easier because connect and acceptance is higher.
5) You are not going to know everything.
In fact, you probably won't know anything when you first start. Start anyway. When I first got into advertising business, I was just a decent copywriter. Had no idea how to consolidate a campaign, or even design an invoice. Most of us, figured it all out "on the job." You will too.
6) Never partner with someone because it's convenient.
Partner with someone because it makes you stronger. The wrong partner will drive you crazy, make you hate your work and end up causing more problems than they solve.
I partnered with someone who lost my trust but I continued too long that it affected work. Learn to choose a partner who’s different in skillset but with the same value system.
7) You are bad at many things.
Accept it. Some are bad at managing people. That’s perfectly fine. You are having your set of skill sets. Steve Jobs did one thing well... He knew what he wanted for his brand. Some basic skill sets we develop over a period of time. Hire a HR consultant or an assistant for you to ape as you grow.
The same is true when you want a strong person to back you with financial acumen. I learned this in my fourth year of operations and it has made a lot of difference to my ambitions.
8) There is a fine line between dedicated and obsessed.
If anyone tells you this… tell them to mind their own business. If you are not obsessed with it for long periods of time, then its just not worth pursuing. Entrepreneurs cross that line always.
I am overwhelmingly obsessed with branding and helping start ups. You must find your obsession!
9) Must Read & Meet.
Someone else’s experiences really do serve as a map to the journey ahead. Knowing what to expect, helps you visualize a similar and more often, a better experience.
Personally, I love reading autobiographies. Their experiences sometimes also serve as validating your own decisions.
10) Your personal life is more important.
Never forget that. Develop a healthy balance.
I started my family life pretty late. And as a new father, I can’t but help wonder, why did not start early? 🙂
11) Delay your reward. But reward.
Connect your milestones with a reward. I have found that people who delay their rewards also tend to keep a higher expectation for themselves.
12) And finally, Don't chase money.
Money follows value. Create value for someone else and it automatically becomes valuable for you. Focus your energies to become ‘the-amazing-you’ that your creations become incredible for people to be part off.
Yes, sometimes it is lonely and starting our is filled with insecurities. With your own well-wishers throwing more than a few cautions. But ultimately, like a human life your business journey is going to be unique.
I end with the thought that “stubbornness for your dream is what people end up calling endurance”. Wishing you a happy New Year and more power to entrepreneurial thinkers.