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Kickstart Your Entrepreneurial Journey

Summary. Getting started with your career as an entrepreneur can be daunting. This blog will give you an overview of the things to bear in mind when you decide to become an entrepreneur. Begin with recognizing the problem that you want to fix. Reflect on your responsibility as the founder and establish how you will make an impact in people’s lives. Do your research, update all features in your product and construct a solid business plan. With the pandemic looming over your head, choosing a career ridden with risks might seem like career suicide but with the right attitude and resources, entrepreneurship will be a fun and exciting ride.

Entrepreneurship is the pursuit of opportunity beyond the resources controlled.”

- Howard H. Stevenson, Professor at Harvard Business School.

The journey of an entrepreneur is filled with obstacles and yet every year, several people choose this career because, entrepreneurship offers the promise of autonomy - you get to be your own boss and run the business how you see fit; this responsibility might seem overwhelming to others but to entrepreneurs - it is a symbol of their freedom.

Each person’s reason behind choosing this career might be unique but a common trait amongst all aspiring entrepreneurs is a strong sense of purpose to create a product or a service that can solve an existing or potential problem in the society.

We might shun the rigidity of traditional corporate culture but, that doesn’t mean we would put in lesser effort, in fact; most entrepreneurs work harder than their corporate counterparts at the beginning stages of their startups. Most aspiring entrepreneurs are driven by the desire to create something that outlasts them - to build a legacy. They seek to create innovations that add real value to people’s lives.

"Passion is merely the difference between having a job and having a career."

Before deciding to tread down this path, you must stop and ask yourself if you are genuinely excited about what you are going to do - this will make the days when you wish it weren’t your burden, much easier to bear.

I started out as a financial analyst at a knowledge process outsourcing (KPO) unit in Mumbai and during my time there, I noticed how entrepreneurs were often under-prepared to handle a fund and this led to them being blindsided. The gap between their vision and execution seemed small but the repercussions were quite big. I observed that they needed someone who could enable them to make informed decisions - that was when I decided to establish my own startup advisory, to ensure that entrepreneurs were provided with all the tools necessary to persuade an investor and help their business grow.

Every aspiring entrepreneur dreams about the day they can quit their job so, here are a few principles you must stick to before doing that -

Recognize the problem that you want to fix.

Starting a business is no mean feat and driving it to success is even harder but, the fuel that keeps the fire burning is your zeal towards whatever you are doing. Find your niche - it could be that you have quite some experience in an industry and you understand the inadequacies better or it could be a part of a consumer section that is underserved by the existing services. It could also be a particular annoyance that you have to deal with on a daily basis, which others are sure to share. However you land on your idea, you should feel like you must start your business at this point of time, no matter what.

Reflect on your responsibility as the founder.

More than ever, people prefer to know the person they are availing a service or purchasing a product from. Brands built by people with compelling stories are more likely to gain popularity on social media. They tend to gain traction by having their founders at the center of the narrative: speaking about their struggles, showing vulnerability, and associating the brand with a human face. This does not mean that you must display every aspect of your personal life on a public platform. However, you should be willing to establish a genuine relationship with your clients and consumers. This gives them a reason to root for your company’s success along with loving your product.

Founders must actively possess interpersonal skills along with upholding their persona, to ensure the team’s unity and focus. The founder must lead the team in an unbiased way, and they must always be open to suggestions. It’s their responsibility to pursue investors, manage finances, develop a business plan, recruit the best talent and ensure that the vision of the startup is never compromised.

Keep the prerequisites in mind.

There is a popular myth that most successful and self-made entrepreneurs, usually drop out of college. However, research shows that over 95% of entrepreneurs in rapid growth industries at least have a bachelor’s degree. It is important to educate yourself and research the market to analyze the demand within the customer base, because tech startups often neglect what their customers want and build what they believe is best for them.

It is of utmost importance to have a financial model in place, to summarize and predict the performance of an asset or investment. It is equally imperative to draft a striking pitch deck - it guarantees that you leave a lasting impression on your investors by showcasing the best of your service’s metrics and structure.

Establish how you will make a difference in people’s lives.

The startup landscape has become quite competitive and only the best products break into the market. You might come up with a unique idea but odds are the experiences that led you to your idea might be influencing someone else, at the same moment. It does not matter who launches their product first, only the best will make it till the end. For instance, Swiggy proved to be successful owing to the attention they pay to ensure their customers have the best possible experience.

It is important to obtain valuable feedback from your customers to improve upon your services. Collecting data might be exhausting but it is not the customer’s job to provide feedback that might be helpful, so you must ask engaging and thought provoking questions. Customer retention is the key to rapid growth, and the best way to have them vouch for your services/product is by making their lives easier and more significant. When you take your competitive advantage into account, focus on the needs of your customers.

Jump in at the deep end.

The appeal of keeping your day job until your business has taken off is reasonable but, starting a business is equivalent to taking up at least six different jobs because the founder must don several hats at the beginning stages. Pursuing your idea on the side will take you much longer to reach any considerable milestone before you feel comfortable enough to quit your job. Remember that the entire time you spend toeing the line; your competitors will keep gaining traction. It is important to realize that your journey begins only when you commit entirely to your vision and take control of your narrative.

Key takeaways -

1. Do your research about the market you want to break into 2. It is crucial to have a business plan in mind before assembling your team 3. Build a genuine relationship with your customers 4. Understand the importance of formulating a financial model and a pitch deck 5. Don't spend too much time toeing the line - just do it

The Covid-19 pandemic might seem like a bad time to start your journey as an entrepreneur because investors might hesitate to fund your ideas but, this is also the best time to come up with innovative solutions that will still be required after the pandemic passes. Consumers are craving new brands that offer more accountability, transparency, and value.

Every sector is ready for the next brand to come along and improve the status quo but, the competition is equally high because, technology has made it easier for everyone to access tools and resources required to boost their startups. The world might not need just another startup but it might need your startup - given that you have an honest connection with your consumer base and your product impacts people’s lives in a tangible way.

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