3 Must-Have Skills for the Startup Founders
Entrepreneurial Excellence means understanding the basic science of building a great business and using it every step along the way, keeping impatience under lock and key.
There is so much glamour and excitement around the unimportant elements of start-ups - business plans, pitches, funding; that the real hero of the story - the customer - gets buried under the carpet. That is why mortality rate of startups is so high.
The only money that can sustain a start-up is the customer's money, which is an indication of value created. External funding at the wrong time will necessarily lead to pre-mature death of the start-up. External investments should be brought in only for scaling-up; after the business model has been tested for profitability, repeatability and scalability with data drawn from real customer engagements.
Olympic gold medals are not won with the excitement of the athlete, running around to get sponsorships but by unglamourous disciplined sweating on a daily basis as part of a rigorous structure of success under the hawk-eye of a coach.
Founders need to leave the comfort of their air-conditioned office and be foot- soldiers engaging with customers day-in, day-out to make a difference to them; rather than waste time fine-tuning their elevator pitches and business plan presentations.
The Founder needs to focus on mastering three skills to ensure deeply fulfilling, sustainable success:
1. Entrepreneurial Excellence means understanding the basic science of building a great business and using it every step along the way, keeping impatience under lock and key. Here is the path:
a. Pick up a business idea that is linked to your passion, purpose of life. Picking up something just because it seems to have greater wealth creation opportunity is a sure road to boredom and the inability to keep the energy & enthusiasm going to grow the business. After a point, you no longer would be excited and the hard- work of raising a start-up would seem like an unnecessary struggle. Do yourself a favour; pick up something that fills you up with inspiration and brings the shine in your eyes as you think about it.
b. This business idea now needs to be married to what's missing in the world. Which target community does the business idea serve? What is the pain faced by that target community that fills you up with passion to solve for? Is the pain critical enough for them to pay for solving it? This stage is where you find your blue ocean, your value proposition.
Building a business is an iterative process. It is likely that you may find at this stage that your business idea does not solve a problem that your target community really cares about. In that case, you pivot back to the first step.
If you find willing customers for your business idea transformed into a minimum viable product, its time to move forward.
c. At this stage; you build for profitability, repeatability and scalability.
Profitability - Is the cost of customer creation and product / service development & delivery substantially less than what she is willing to pay for?
Repeatability - Can you repeat the entire value creation cycle (from customer creation to post-sales service) following the same steps every time, delighting the customer the same way each time?
Scalability - Can the entire process run without you?
d. If you are able to build your business to solve for the above, you are ready to press the accelerator to scale-up. This is where you should really seek funding, if at all.
e. If you built your business right, you should now be able to hand-over the management of your enterprise to a professional team and truly become a business owner where wealth creation is no longer a function of your time.
2. Leadership Depth - This journey is about growing inwards to connect with your highest self; to bring stillness in your mind, body, emotions and spirit.
It's only in deepening of your leadership muscles of Agility of Mind, Being of Service, Communicating in the World of Others, Integrity and Excellence that you inspire partnership from people in your life (family, employees, investors, peer group, business partners, customers, suppliers) to support you to transform your vision into reality.
With leadership depth, you run your business with effortless ease experiencing fun, fulfilment, freedom along the way and you have it all - deeply fulfilling successful, profitable business; joyful relationships, happy responsible kids and lots of nourishing me-time.
3. Craft Mastery - Many a times, the entrepreneur gets so much sucked into running the business because the fundamental principles are not followed and there is no time for investing into the domain that was the original reason for the entrepreneur to start the business.
Your craft is your domain, the area of your business. You probably started the business because you are passionate about this domain. I call it Craft because the entrepreneur is really an Artist and her product or service - a masterpiece, a work of art.
Therefore, forgetting to learn and build mastery in the Craft with every step of building the business; an entrepreneur would lose the purpose of being in the game. The purpose is to transform the world through serving the target community by being the world's best in your chosen craft.
Wishing you entrepreneurial excellence, leadership depth and craft mastery so that you leave footprints in the sand of time and fulfil your destiny.
Disclaimer: The views expressed in the article above are those of the authors' and do not necessarily represent or reflect the views of this publishing house
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