There seems to be an endemic mushrooming of new enterprises and entrepreneurs – ‘Startups’ – if you please. A lot of them may not survive the competition and go under. A few of them would live the dream and prosper. Can there be a code or formula that ensures success?
Many researchers say it is having a comprehensive business plan-
Survival is also closely associated with age and size of the firm. The longer a firm has been in business the more likely that it will continue in business. The same is true of size. A study of firms found that 85% were still in business after three years, if they had developed a business plan at the outset.
Success in all such endeavours is an art and not a science that can be reduced to a few simple formulae. Yet, there are a few common strains in all success stories. These have been condensed below.
Planning- A sound business proposal and plan is a must. The plan layout your vision, concept, organisation, finances, plans for contingencies etc. Apart from serving a reference book for your employees, it would be instrumental in getting you the necessary funding.
Strategy- What is your USP? The strategy must propose to deliver a clear advantage to the customer. Your product must be a clear result of the process of ‘Segmentation – Targeting – Positioning’. The strategy must be clear within your firm and to your customers and stakeholders. Focus on your core competency and strategy – don’t diversify too much too early. Have a feedback sys and fine tune your strategy based on changes in the marketplace or customer choice.
Flawless Product- Have a niche product – Make sure your product is a ‘must need’ and not a ‘may need’. Your product must deliver quality and flawless performance. For example, if it’s an app, it must be attractive, easy to install / use / upgrade, secure and not hang. Hence what would make a difference would be that it should work without glitches.
Execution- Develop and maintain flawless operational execution. Quality control, sheer value for money, timely delivery, courteous service, responsive frontline staff must all combine and aim for complete customer satisfaction. Slice out wasteful expenditure and make your firm efficient.
Business Structure- Have a frugal structure that enables seamless vertical and lateral communication and decision making, makes key information available to the decision makers, reduces processes, physical movement and cuts down time wasters and clutter. The less you insist on rigidity, the better. The best effort of the firm must be applied at the points which you consider to be critical in your system, be it software development or the front office.
Talent- Identify, hire, develop, train, nurture and reward talent. Know which of your employees have the promise to grow and excel, whom to train in which field. Hiring the best talent at any cost is often decisions that would make the difference in an average and outstanding produce. Training and development of skills must be a constant endeavour.
Sound Business Culture- The basic of business practices and ethics must be correctly in place. Develop a culture of excellence in your staff. Insist on sound business ethics and encourage independence and accountability in actions and decisions. Insist on high performance – reward it – and keep raising the bar. Remember, ‘good is the biggest enemy of great’.
Leadership- Motivate, set an example, identify talent, and be prepared to go without a salary yourself for a few months till the going gets good! The leader must have knowledge of the product. Don’t be reluctant to delegate. Encourage your team
Innovation– Not only in products, but also in procedures, processes, hiring and structure, communication – all innovations to based on one premise – improve quality and reduce costs.
In sum, in a David Versus Goliath scenario, even your small business or startup can compete aggressively against larger well-established businesses. Just make sure that you provide personalised attention, responsive procedures, customised solutions, competitive prices and very high-quality services and products – all of which can be better delivered by small businesses. Attention to these aspects would make you a winner.