19 Nov 10 Steps to be Successful on your Startup Company
The first success is to try. Do you have a plan to achieve your goals?
A colleague asks me to write an article for this blog. I can’t find a better excuse to summarize some of the advice I would give today to anyone who is brave enough to face a difficult and ambitious project like Vortex Bladeless is.
Being an entrepreneur is an adventure, a unique opportunity to develop both your business idea and your profile and skills at a professional level. Never allow yourself the luxury of wasting a single advantage that you will find along the way and it will be really difficult for you to ever regret having undertaken.
Given the imminent hardness of the mission, it is better to start with good news. It is a proven fact that the scrupulous follow-up of all these tips is not essential to achieve the first of the successes we seek, that is, find the path that allows us to implement the project and have the opportunity to fulfill our dream, because there were a few times when we did not make the best decision, and Vortex has managed to move forward.
Each project is different and there is no perfect method to start it. However, it won’t be bad if you ask yourself some questions before getting involved. I invite you to look for answers to each of them twice, before and after reading my notes. Are you in the mood? Let’s go with them.
10 questions that every startup should ask themselves:
1.- If everything goes well, where does the project take us?
Have giant goals, but keep your feet on the ground. In any project, it is essential to assess first of all what the opportunity is, to what extent it is going to be worth the effort to achieve our objectives, based on different scenarios. Study who is served by your contribution, product, service… only then you will be able to provide the solution you are looking for. You don’t need a perfectly defined business plan, but try to find out where your income will come from, who benefits from the project’s results and who is competing with you in an attempt to offer a better solution than yours.
2.- …if not, how likely would the project be to find other outlets?
Often, successful entrepreneurs get involved in projects that finally achieved great results, although quite far from the objectives they set from the start. Be faithful to your objectives and remember them daily, as we tend to blur them easily. However, don’t let the focus prevent you from noticing the great opportunities that present themselves along the way in case the project admits a turn that leads you back to success.
“Your objective is not to look for investors. Your objective is to have a value proposition so good that investors look for you”.
3.- Am I willing to try?
Throughout History, there are many more testimonies of those who regret not having tried it than that of those who regret having failed. If this is so, the entrepreneur, a priori, starts right. Find a way to assess the difficulties you will face and ask yourself if you would agree to try to succeed in a project with a difficulty 3 times greater than that.
4.- Then, when do I start?
If you answered “yes” to the previous question, the answer to this one is “now”. This does not mean that you throw yourself into the void, headlong and without a parachute, but that you must be active and committed to your business idea from this very moment. If you are working and you have a payroll, it is very important to maintain it and combine your work with entrepreneurial activity until the business requires 100% of your time and you can survive from your income or savings. Even if it means extra effort, if there are problems, it can be your best guarantee.
5.- Who will be my adventure partners?
You know what they say: “If you want to go fast, walk alone, but if you want to go far, you’re going to need company”. The importance of choosing the right people around you is crucial to success. The quickest way to expand capabilities is to surround yourself with people who already have them. Look back and find evidence to help you think about who can help you the most and who you can trust in any kind of circumstances, without ever missing their level of commitment to the project.
Value positively that these are people who have already embarked with you on other missions. It is important that the founders have aligned goals and play different and complementary roles. Define them precisely and set out in writing which roles each will take on. This will help you prevent problems in the future and even abort any conflict situation in time.
6.- How much money should I put into play?
The answer, although obvious, is the “essential minimum”. When you put your foot in the water, do it slowly, you are going to enter a new and cold world. Any imaginative solution is welcome at first if you can control your fixed or structural costs. Remember that in a zero income situation, the only thing you can sell off, in a sense, is your time. If you are not guaranteed to be able to pay… you shouldn’t hire! Before taking any action that entails specific costs, always estimate its potential benefits.
“Don’t think about getting rich, attend to your vocation as an entrepreneur and try to get to the situation that makes the project sustainable as soon as you can”.
7.- …and if I cannot hire, how can I find the support I need?
You must look for imaginative solutions! The best professionals don’t usually work motivated only by their economic consideration, take advantage of this opportunity. Make proposals to your employees and suppliers that consider the possibility of projecting their benefits based on successful situations. And don’t forget, that big projects tend to attract the interest of important people who can give you great help, which you will find a way to thank in the future, with the progress of your business.
8.- How will I find investors for the project?
Your objective is not to look for investors. Your objective is to have a value proposition so good that investors look for you. You’ll probably have to take a few steps before they find you. When they do, when negotiating your position, try to find the help that balances the enormous experience acquired by them in various previous investment processes against yours.
9.- Will I be able to finance the project from awards and/or public aids?
Often, good projects can get recognition and small resources by winning awards. In the beginning, any resource and support obtained are essential to take the next steps. Entrepreneurs usually turn to different organisations for public aid that can substantially co-finance the project’s start-up costs, but first try to reach agreements that allow you to complement them with private, own and/or outside funds, otherwise, you will get into trouble before than expected.
By the way, don’t you remember that you have agreed to go ahead despite the fact that the project is more complicated than initially planned? Don’t forget that now that you’re estimating the resources you’ll need to get to the mainland.
“If you want to go fast, walk alone, but if you want to go far, you’re going to need company”
10.- Well, it looks like I’ll finally be able to get more people to join the team, other entities that can collaborate with us, right?
That’s probably how it will be. And with that, your responsibility and your degree of commitment to all those who in one way or another have bet on you and your project increases in equal measure. It will also increase your obligations and the time you will have to devote to managing the company and generating documentation to inform investors and public bodies about the progress of the project. Remember to give priority to people over good professionals, as most things can be learned, but not to be a person you can generally trust.
And because 10 are not enough, here the last one:
11.- When will I reap the fruits of my labor?
Perhaps you should reformulate this question. Don’t think about getting rich, attend to your vocation as an entrepreneur and try to get as soon as you can to the situation that makes the project sustainable. Go beyond that frontier as soon as possible and then, yes, reconsider what business model you want to create and what position you want to occupy within it.
At this point, dear reader of this article, allow me to point out a few more things: To keep calm in this long-distance race, to reflect every decision you are going to make as much as possible, to learn from your mistakes and never cease in the effort to find the straightest way back to your goals. Fall in love with your company and the people committed to it. Be proud of what you do and who you do it with. Don’t ever forget that all of them are part of this success with you.
May the force, sorry, the hard work be with you!
Article written by: Raul Martín Yunta. co-CEO and co-founder of Vortex Bladeless SL