Start Small, Think Big
We are all inspired and develop great ideas whilst travelling, whilst running errands and going through our daily routine. Have you been dreaming up a wonderful idea but are not sure where to start? Have you been negating and challenging your internal insecurities, the myriad of questions popping up through your mind: What if? It might? But? The mind rambles and we come up with a hundred and one reasons why it won’t work out.
In a recent study carried out by the US Bureau of Labour Studies, stated that 50% of small businesses will survive 5 years or more. Delving into the reasons as to why this takes place, besides economic uncertainty, and failing to address clients’ needs, many businesses fail due to the inability of devising a clear vision.
If you are struggling to develop your vision and put pen to paper, rest assured you are not the only one.
Small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) are the backbone of Europe’s economy. They represent 99% of all businesses in the EU. In the past five years, they have created around 85% of new jobs and provided two-thirds of the total private sector employment in the EU (Source: https://ec.europa.eu/growth/smes_en ).
Nonetheless we do appreciate that starting your own business is no easy endeavour. It takes great tenacity, strength of character, sacrifice and a lot of hours of hard work.
We have assisted several start-ups to transition through the turbulent trajectory from incubation to the full launch and ultimately of reaching the required growth. Time is of the essence to most of the start-up companies. One must move fast, yet not with haste.
There is no easy, fast track route to market. By-passing a few initial stages might have a reverse effect at a later stage. On the other hand, missed opportunities can be gone forever. It takes time to plan, finance, structure and launch a start-up project especially since most of the sole owners will be managing the start-up as a side project alongside their full-time employment. So where is the balance? What are the key success factors?
Here are a number of key take-aways you may consider for your own start-up.
1) Value Proposition
What is your Produce/Service?
What is its Unique Selling Point? i.e: the element that makes it stand out from the competition?
Who are your competition? Can you provide something they are not offering yet?
How will your product improve consumers’ life?
Your idea may sound right on paper, but how will it work out in practice? We do not subscribe to a lengthy market research exercise so as not to run the risk of getting lost in the detail. However, strategic primary and secondary research findings is essential to identify the:
- Authenticity of your value proposition
- Direct and indirect competitors and
- Longevity of your business idea.
This is the moment to sit down, look around you and get a feel of the market as well as to gauge the strength of your prospective idea.
2) Financing and Structure
What processes must you put into place?
How much initial investment would be sufficient, in order to reach your goals?
Do we need office space?
Can we outsource any tasks?
One of the key elements for every start-up company is cash flow. Initially, a feasibility study has to be conducted to identify the initial investment required and the return of that investment to the shareholders. Thus, identifying the right financial experts to support the development of the financial plans is paramount to success. With financial plans, we are hereby referring to a Profit and Loss statement and in tandem cash flow projections.
Initially the main target is to be lean on the ground which translates into having to handle most of the business activities internally from strategic development and on boarding of new clients right down to something as mundane as appointment setting or issuing of invoices. Having the right financial plan in place will encourage and lead key decisions such as whether you should employ an additional board member or rent an office space.
Start-ups have the benefit of creating and adopting distinct working business models to maintain and this could augur well in helping one to remain agile and cost-effective.
3) Steadfast Progress
Is this the best way to go about it?
How do I plan to go about launching?
Am I considering any pitfalls? How can these be overcome?
How can I beat Procrastination and Uncertainty?
Start-ups should be in a constant effort to fine tune yet when you decide to go for it, you need to do so with conviction. An overarching strategy, with clear and defined objectives goals provides direction. Nonetheless, evolution is natural and should not be ignored.
There are moments when the going gets tough, the team is demotivated, and the launch date is being constantly postponed. However, a team must keep its eyes on the target and the ultimate decision. Procrastination is your ultimate enemy here. Try not to let it get the better of you.
Reporting weekly progress is a step in the right direction. Small successes and achievements are also important and should be celebrated. Albeit momentarily, they propel team members to keep up the hard work and create a sense of fulfilment.
Having been part of the development and growth of local as well as international companies of various sizes, we can assess your business idea, and help you get it off the ground. We can also help you cultivate a company culture which is in line with your business vision. Having all team members rowing in the same direction, steers you closer towards your goal. Take the first step, contact us, let’s get the ball rolling together.