The idea of startups and entrepreneurship is not very new in India. But, the lacuna between mulling over to create one and implementing the ideas, in reality, is indeed a great one. Startups can be of two types; one that has some groundbreaking, pioneering ideas and secondly, one that is intended to make newer bottles for old wine. Whichever it is, the nitty-gritty remains almost the same. The challenges they face in the beginning do not differ much either. What are the biggest challenges faced by start-ups? Let’s have a quick and pithy discussion.
Lack of Knowledge Regarding Market Demand: In India, every state has a unique taste, culture, food habit, language and outfit. So, what is selling in Maharashtra like hot cakes might remain untouched in Tamilnadu. A thorough knowledge of region-wise need and a practical market survey is of utmost importance before venturing into the perilous sea of startups. Location thus plays a key factor in the success. In this particular case, it’s better not to stick to Steve Job’s suggestion of not asking the customers, for people don’t know what they want until you show them. One should remember, every startup doesn’t produce something as revolutionary as iPods. Marketing strategy comes under this same section as well.
Proper Mentoring: Having the business acumen always keeps one a step ahead of others. This is, perhaps, even bigger problem than the accumulation of funding. Money can’t grant you wisdom and vision, though it’s necessary for other things. So, careful and small steps at a time can help you gather momentum eventually in the long run. Talent, tenacity and tactics are the 3T’s to remember.
Funding: Accumulation of funding depends on several factors. Personal financial stability as well as that of partners, the size of the business, connections and finding the right time to invest. While it’s a challenging task for most startups, a lucky few don’t face many problems with it.
Hiring or Finding The Right Persons to Join the Team: This is directly proportional to your access to capital. As I’ve said, funding is a challenge for most startups, so hiring skilled manpower with an in-depth knowledge of the concerned field, often becomes difficult. Experienced persons, on the other hand, do not feel the urge to involve themselves with the risk-involvement of start-ups. It’s a choppy affair and a perennial problem unless you’ve a dedicated and like-minded bunch of friends.
Management (Read Hard work and Dedication): As the business starts to take shape, it needs every bit of attention to maintain the flow. Even from the inception, a clear blueprint should be in mind to avoid any anomaly in the inflow which can amplify itself overnight to make things out of control.
The cultural diversity and huge population of India could be an added advantage for startups. But, in our society, an unconventional step is not always welcomed by family and friends and failure can even lead to social ostracization! Ours is a risk-averse society and, instead of inspiring the young entrepreneurs, we often discourage them advising them to jump on the bandwagon. If one has the talent, conviction and willpower, she/he is sure to succeed. My friend, Roshni Banerjee, an IITian and now an entrepreneur, a jewellery-maker under the brand-name Gahonaz and author Santosh Avvannavar of Qtpi Robotics hold testimony to this. I know there might be a thousand others out there, but just mentioning them as I know their stories. Success, most of the times, lies just around the corner. Try to grab it before you miss the boat.