Do you know that for every one startup that succeeds, four fails? I believe it’s no longer news that more than 79% of startups do not survive their first 18 months and a higher percentage fails before the first 12 months.
In spite of this alarming statistics, millions of startups rise into glorious successes annually.
No one starts a startup to fail, but the success of any startup can never be guaranteed without the availability of these basic requirements.
1. Great Idea
Not just an idea, but a great idea is the herald of a successful startup. Let’s just say it is the foundation upon which the edifice of a startup is built. That means a weak idea cannot essentially carry the burden of a great startup.
In the light of this, it is expedient that quality attention is dedicated on the development of an idea. Ideas don’t always come fully formed, as truthful as that may sound, it’s not a licence for one to hit the roads with an idea without properly beating it into shape.
Once the foundation is great, the possibility of erecting a skyscraper is sealed.
When thinking up an idea, it is important to put the market into consideration and to consider what the potential customers really want. The error people make is that they think more of themselves and less of the market.
Also one of the beautiful things about great ideas is that they are easy to explain. If it takes you so much time to explain your idea, then it means it is too complicated. A great idea should be simple to comprehend and it is best when it is unique.
2. Great Product/Service
What do you have to offer? Every startup must have a product or service to offer. Having a great idea is not a guarantee that your product or service will be equally amazing.
Not having a great product is one of the reasons startups fail. Sales and marketing is good, but no one has time to patronize junk. If you like, get your startup advertised on all the billboards in California and let it be viewed by on CNN by everyone, if the product is a junk, it simply won’t sell. A lot of entrepreneurs are very passionate at receiving seed capitals, running adverts here and there, but they’ve got nothing tangible to offer.
I tell my friends here in Nigeria that it is better you are prepared without opportunity, than to be unprepared in the face of opportunity. I know of a guy while I was in college that always urge people to download his debut song. He was passionate about it and was even running ads for it. The hype for the track was so much and I decided to listen to the song only to discover it was wack. I thought I was being unreasonably critical about the guy’s track, so I had a couple of other guys listen to it. But they said the same thing. The song literally sucks.
In the same vein, over the years, millions of startups have been founded and many didn’t survive the light of 6months simply because their products/services weren’t great. Though that’s not the only reason why startups fail, but great products sell themselves. There are often referred to as “investor magnet.” It’s always easy for investors to spot them out.
So the next time, you sit on your couch to think of a startup, I suggest you think less of capital while you develop the product you want to unleash for maximum acceptability. Don’t worry about competition. Very few startups die out of competition. On the contrast, millions of startups die because they fail to produce great products and services that users love. Their founders actually spent their time on less important things like “packaging.”
3. Great Team
Andrew Carnegie inferred that one of his greatest secrets that made him the richest man in the world at some point was the Mastermind Theory that his team worked with. For him, no one was a mastermind on his own, but when different professionals that are skilled in their respective fields come together, they collectively form a formidable team which is a reputable mastermind. Such a team can achieve untold success in their endeavours.
Having a great idea and product will never equate to success if you’ve not got a perfect team. One must ensure that there is harmony in the team, else much results won’t be gotten. A team doesn’t necessarily mean you need a dozen persons on board. It can comprise of just a few persons depending on the nature of work to be done. So much care must be given to this because the operation of every part of the startup lies solely on the team.
When choosing your team members, always remember that a skilled rebel is not an asset. It is necessary to note that Team has two sides: Co-founding and Hiring.
In as much as you want to be your own boss and make decisions yourself, being a solo founder is not really advisable. Most successful startups over the years had at least two founders. Having a co-founder will make you share the burden, stress and occasional depression associated with startups. And it gives you a better shot at success. Two good heads are better than one. Remember the adage didn’t say “two heads”, but “two GOOD heads.”
Failure of some startups is attributed to having “two or more bad heads” or “one good and one bad head.” It won’t fit. A lot of people are very careless when it comes to choosing of co-founders. You don’t just ask any guy you know to join you run a business simply because he is good looking, smart and speaks polished grammar. Trust me, that partnership won’t survive 12 months.
Most advisable, your co-founder should be someone you know too well. Perhaps a college/university buddy, a trusted colleague, or a friend that you’ve been with for a considerable period of time for you to have known his greed-level, sincerity, devotion and capabilities, else, your startup is headed for a shipwreck.
One of the mistakes people make when hiring is to handpick their family members and give them slots in their organisations even though they are not qualified for it. I won’t call names, but the practice is everywhere even in political circles in America, Europe, my beloved Nigeria and practically the whole world. Using that same template for hiring workers in a startup can be disastrous.
When hiring, you need to be strict. As much as possible, reduce your team members to the barest minimum. More team members means more salaries and longer time for decisions making. Only hire when extremely necessary. Care should be taken to ensure you hire only people who understand and are committed to the vision of your startup, and not just anyone who needs an employment at all cost. To ensure this, be very strict with your interview process. The stricter the better because the team has a major role to play on the success and growth of your startup.
4. Great Execution
A great execution refers to the actualization of the plans and business processes of your startup. A large chunk of execution lies on the shoulders on the team, but the larger chunk lies on the shoulders of the founder.
Recently, a friend started an NGO, he was really excited about it and calls himself the CEO. Let me spell that out correctly: Chief Executive Officer. Thinking about it makes me laugh even as I’m typing this.
Often times, people get so overwhelmed with portfolios that they neglect the ensuing duties. I learnt early that great powers comes with great responsibilities. From his actions, I could tell that my friend didn’t understand the responsibilities of a CEO.
Your role as a CEO isn’t just to delegate duties to everyone while you sit in an air-conditioned office. There are four basic roles of a CEO. The first four are obviously:
- Set the vision
- Raise money
- Preach the mission to people you’re trying to recruit, executives, partners, press, everybody
- Hire and manage the team
However the fifth role is not easily comprehended by many. It is,
- Setting the execution standard
It is the most critical role of them all and no one can do it except the CEO. It can’t be delegated. This simply means doing everything that you want your team to do. That is, if you want to team to be hard working, then they’ve got to see you working hard. If you want them to deliver before deadline, then you’ve got to make them see you doing that.
Chief Executive Officer means you’re the chief strategist, chief marketer, chief technical officer and even the chief janitor. Yea, that’s right — chief janitor. When your office is always messy, you’re obviously preaching a gospel of dirtiness to your team. It won’t take long before they will accept and start living it out.
Execution provide answers to two questions:
- Can you figure out what to do?
- Can you get it done?
There is always a fine distance between knowledge and action. This gap must be breached. It is the role of the CEO to ensure that the entire team knows what exactly to do, knows how to do it and to eventually get it done. Until it’s done, the entire plans and strategies are dormant and useless.
These requirements are the four faces of a startup. When one of them is veiled, the overall goal which is to have a successful startup will not be achieved.