In today’s world, speed of execution and short term profits have become norm. This is more likely due to the short sighted visions that boards put on the CEOs and immediate gains that are sought in return. Consequently, the decisions that are taken are often short sighted and lead to limited returns. History of mankind in commerce shows clearly that well invested time in studying various aspects of strengths and weaknesses, understanding the markets, researching on customers and building sustainable ecosystems is the bedrock of sustainable growth. The emergence of new technology driven business models in India disrupted the traditional businesses based on technology. However, lack of proper research of consumer habits, short sighted vision of boards driven by an immature investment community and failure to build a balance between promised growth and building a sustainable ecosystem, led to demise of many ‘funded’ startups.
More research and a balanced approach is key ask. However, one still gets questions like ‘Brilliantly New Idea – No One has thought’. My blog on this topic led to this series that discusses about factors that one must keep in mind to build something sustainable and successful. This is the conclusive part, so a long read. Thanks for patience.
Read the first two here:
We move to the next and conclusive set of questions:
- Whats the right technology mix for me?
- Do I have any Government Support – anywhere, any form?
- How easily or difficultly can I access funds?
- How far can I go?
Often I come across entrepreneurs and mid-level managers who are obsessed with building their own product. In fact, I have seen many cases where the entrepreneurs spend so much time in building features of the product that they lose focus of their core objective. It is to be seen what one needs to do with technology. Mind it. Technology does not mean building websites and mobile apps… for the uninitiated. Technology refers to anything that enables the function of business. So an ergonomic chair is also technology and so is farm machinery. Technology mix “should be” built as a competitive advantage. It is no longer a world where Technology can be ignored. Entrepreneurs and mid-level managers need to identify the right Technology mix. So what is right Technology mix? Here are a few principles that one can use –
- Technology should be simple to implement
- It should simplify things for the teams
- Usage should be friendly and adoptive
- For operational tasks, one should explore standard packs to leave the headache of legal compliance etc on the pack provider
- All technology around core IP of the firm must be done in-house. No questions.
- Bring as much simplicity as possible. By design technologists love to complicate things. Counter it.
In our example of the employment services, the technology intervention such as website for promotion etc can be easily outsourced. However, tools to do the assessment and build reports need to be done in-house as it is proprietary. In case there is lack of in-house skills then teams should be built to do it.
One thing I shall re-emphasize is the need to keep simplification and entering the market with a Minimum Viable Product (MVP) in place.
Tesla Motors is a classic example of simplification. In 2014, the company came up with a Infinite Mile warranty scheme. The company made this promise based on its confidence in the cars it was building. This would be seen a marketing sham by many. However, the reality is Tesla is not just a motor car company. Its technology feat is to reduce the number of moving parts in a traditional Internal Combustion Engine from over 10,000 to less than 20. This gives it immense control on the quality. It has managed to build its own ERP system as it has liaison with suppliers for lesser complexity and many more benefits.
As an entrepreneur or a mid-level manager, one must aspire to use technology to simplify things as much as possible, while remaining functional in nature.
One of the things that is often overlooked by many entrepreneurs is what are the priority of Government. Things are built as per convenience and vision of the entrepreneur just to face the crude reality that someone somewhere is doing a better job with Government support. What should one look for in Government Support –
- What kind of sectors is government promoting the most, if starting fresh with not many ideas? Can I do something in these sections while adopting all the other principles as discussed in this series?
- What kind of support are various regional governments providing for new companies to start their operations in their state? Many Indian state governments are supporting entrepreneurs to build employment opportunities for their local population. One must target that.
- Keep checking this site as we are very soon starting to build a government section for this site as well.
Access to Funds
Recently HBR reported that access to funds is no longer a competitive advantage for organisations. This is rightly said for organisations with scale. However, for budding entrepreneurs and mid-level managers, one must look at where they can funds for their projects. For mid-level managers, its still an easy ask as they may just need to navigate through the corporate hierarchy to get the funds for their desired projects. Things become little tricky for the entrepreneurs. Broadly speaking, entrepreneurs have three kinds of funding options –
- Debt Funding – usually from Banks and Non Banking Financial Corporations (also known as NBFCs)
- Equity Funding – This starts with Angel funding and goes till IPO. People invest in ideas and also in some execution. It is important for any entrepreneur to assess what is the best time for her/him to seek funding. More the money more pound of flesh is to be let go. Its noteworthy here that Flipkart is not run by founders here anymore and so is the case of many other Indian startups.
- Grants – Many businesses may quality for grants from Governments and institutes. One must keep it in their consideration and analyse if they have a business case to get any kind of grant.
- Paying Customer – There is no better way than a paying customer. A paying customer is a testament of your business model, your operations and your ability to fulfill a market need. More the paying customers, better off are you to get your business driven as per your plans and not driven by investors alone.
The Distance You can Go
It is very important to factor in the distance once can go before you get your first customer, your first investor, your first serious employee. Entrepreneurship is as much a test of patience and perseverance as it is of skill and acumen. One needs to be ready to do the tiniest of task to make an immediate big decision in matter of a flip of roles. Few tips that one must keep in mind to do:-
- Have cash reserves for next 18 months in your account and DO NOT touch it for business purposes at all
- Engage and involve your family in your decision
- Take up a physical activity – walking running, swimming – all these will de-stress you and liberate you with some alone time
- Read, read and read – Devote at least 30 minutes a day to read some books
These are all ingredients that would make you keep going with your journey. However, one needs to do an assessment on their own and decide what they need to take up and what they can discard.
As we come to the end of this series, I must admit that it was great learning experience for me as well to write this series. In the process, I have got many new ideas to write and contribute to the community of dreamers and doers.
Would love to hear from you in case you want to share your story after you followed the tips here. Drop a comment at Contact form and I shall revert.
All the Best!