We are starting a series of articles guiding individuals who want to embark on the startup trend. Many young Thais and even foreigners tend to perceive that its an easy road with guaranteed success when in reality, statistical data show that in the pre-startup phases, only 12 percent of the entities actually succeed to enter into the next phase and among start-ups that have received initial venture capital fundings, only about 18 per cent ever succeed into proceeding into the next phases of expansion, growth and further capitalization, while the rest simply fail and either close or remain in a ‘limbo’ state.
Below are some useful tips for entrepreneurs planning a startup or are in the pre-startup phase.
1. Your product or service should be able to solve a real problem and have real needs.
One can have an invention or product that is novel, creative , exciting and imaginative, but the most important measure of success is meeting a real need for the market that one is trying to serve. The best startups or innovations are the ones that meet consumers’ needs and are able to adapt as those needs change.
2. Leadership is not just vision but involves determination, dedication, discipline and perseverance.
Being a leader for a team starts with the idea and direction that is foundational to a startup, but success ultimately depends on drive. One sets the example for the rest of the startup team with one’s attitude, work ethic, and determination.
3. Procur the right players for the team
The vision for one’s ultimate goal may be singularly yours, but you will need help to reach there. In order to achieve your ultimate goals for your startup, you will need to surround yourself with individuals who understand your vision and fit into the culture and mindset of your startup company.
4. Find the right mentors to guide you.
As one start to develop one’s startup project, you will want to have an advisory panel in place to help offer help, advice and guidance to help you navigate the startup and business intricacies. Do not be afraid to ask business leaders or consultants to mentor you; often these professionals are glad to be asked and eager to help guide others as they were once guided by their own mentors.
5. Set up a startup culture identity
In the absence of professional guides, it is the cultural ethos of a startup that wins out in informing the decisions and work of those at a startup company. Your startup company culture should say not only who you are but who you aim to be. It should set out your visions and goals.
6. Protect oneself with a legal business entity
Paperwork might seem like hassles and not important during the early days of your startup, but operating a startup without a legal business entity in place can put your personal assets at risk. Unless you are willing to risk everything you have to make your business succeed, talk to a legal professional and set up a business entity to protect you and your family from potential ruin and also to protect your startup.
7. All agreements only via signed contracts
Paperwork might seem boring and unnecessary when one is working out of a coworking space or even out of your bedroom, but they can make or break your startup. Every agreement one have should be formalized with a signed contract to protect both parties from future legal fights, which are costly in terms of both time and money.
8. Be careful with your ideas.
It is a good habit to have to keep your ideas as close to the chest as possible and not to tell them to everyone who will listen, but ultimately you will have to talk about them if you hope to fundraise and grow your startup. When talking about your ideas in public, it is smart to have everyone sign non-disclosure agreements (NDAs) to protect your sensitive information. In Thailand, local Thais should be careful of many low end ‘farang’ expats especially Australians, British and Americans and also Chinese expats, who love to go around and copy ideas and even trademark it as their own.
9. Protect your intellectual property
From the beginnings of your startup, your intellectual property (IP) is the most valuable asset you have. Identifying and protecting all the IP you create is crucial to the long term success and viability of your venture.
10. Competition is normal
Being the only startup is a particular market can be daunting, especially as you try to generate attention for the problem you are looking to solve. But do not let competition entering the space put you off; competition is proof that you are onto something, and can force you to focus and improve.
11. Develop a roadmap
Laying out the critical path for your business can help you to go beyond a plan into goals you can act on, and will help avoid any unnecessary diversions and distractions. It may be hard work, but is not the success of your startup worth the efforts?
12. Plan for success and work till that end
Whatever your ultimate goal is for your startup, have that in mind from the start and work towards that end. Things change and shift as time goes on and the unexpected arises, but having that goal in mind will help you plan and make decisions towards achieving it.
13. Promote your expertise
Part of the success of your startup depends upon your reputation as an expert in the field that you are working; after all, no one wants to buy something from someone who does not know what they are talking about. Writing and speaking about your particular area of expertise is a great way to get your name out there and establish your credibility.
14. Content creation is vital
Content is king in this age of the internet, and you want to get in on that with blogs, videos, podcasts, and any other content that allows you to get your name and ideas in front of potential customers. Clicks, views and engagement are the currency of the realm, and the surest way to establish yourself as thought leaders on a subject.
15. Establish networks and relationships
Success is predicated on who you know as much as what you do. But the key to good relationships is not making them one-sided; give as much as you get with helping others where you can, and you’ll develop a strong network of professionals and friends you can rely on.
16. Tread slowly
Early enthusiasm about your new startup is good, but it is best tempered with some caution and due diligence. It is better to take a cautious approach to getting things right before rolling them out than to have your first impression to the world be one with a buggy website or a product that is half baked and not quite ready for market.
17. Be patient about fundraising
When you do choose to raise money for your startup, know that it can be a long and challenging process. It can be tempting to take the first offer that comes your way, but be sure that the offer is the right one,and that you do not go giving away too much equity, and that the money comes with the right strategic connections that can help to further your startup.
18. Ask Questions
Rejecting the status quo or conventional wisdom may seem scary, but it might also be necessary to get where you want to go with your startup. Do not be afraid to go against the norm, and to say no when necessary.
19. Play and enjoy
All of the work you put into your startup is ultimately pointless if you are not happy every day on the job. Moreover, it makes for a difficult sales pitch to potential employees if the workplace environment is best described as a stringent “army barracks” It is alright to have fun on the job so long as the work is getting done; it is certainly preferable to the notion of toiling away in a dungeon.