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Start-up Advice

4 Fundamentals To Successfully Jump-Start Your Start-up

Don’t rush into business before you’ve done everything to give your startup the best possible chance of success.

Rahul Varshneya




A great idea is just the beginning of your business. Consider your idea day one of school and making your first dollar graduation day. Bringing your start-up to life and setting it up for success requires you to meet a whole slew of course criteria before you can ‘graduate.’

It often makes sense to start with an intense industry analysis to determine whether there is a market for your product, in addition to looking at what potential competitors are doing and how your business can do it better.

You’ll want to determine what your product or service can offer that isn’t already available and then figure out what a sales strategy will look like. Investors will also want to see financial projections, which can be especially difficult for budding entrepreneurs without business or accounting backgrounds.

One of the first players in that realm that helps boost budding entrepreneurs into startup life is Techstars, which has accelerated tech start-ups for more than a decade. In addition, other companies and organisations have started industry-specific accelerators to provide more specialised support for start-ups, such as Ameren Accelerator and StartUp Bootcamp.

Accelerators are excellent options, but for budding entrepreneurs in the earliest stages, you may need to iron out some of the details in order for your idea to coalesce into an accelerator-worthy endeavour.

Whether you do so through an incubator programme or on your own, be a good student in the following ways, and you’ll be well on the road to starting your business.

1. Don’t skip math class

When it comes to launching a business, math class is one of the most important courses in school. There are many ways to fund your startup, but they aren’t all created equal. A bank loan or line of credit might get you off the ground, but you’ll probably need to put certain assets up as collateral.

If you can convince others that your idea is a winner, you might secure an advance payment from a future customer, or you could even win venture capital investment if your business shows the potential to scale quickly.

No matter what route you take, you first need to determine what your realistic funding goal and budget should be. It can be helpful to discuss decisions like these with an adviser or mentor.

Related: How To Start Your Business With No Budget

2. Get a ‘tutor’

Not having a background in business doesn’t mean you can’t start one, but it does mean that finding the right mentor is even more important. Similar to a tutor in school, the ideal mentor is someone who is familiar with the obstacles that you’re most likely to face.

It’s also important for a mentor to have industry and local knowledge as well as a skill set that fills in any capability gaps you may have, such as a finance expert if your background there is lacking. Having a mentor who knows the landscape will help you avoid costly mistakes that you’re inevitably going to make if you go it alone.

It’s also important for a mentor to have industry and local knowledge as well as a skill set that fills in any capability gaps you may have, such as a finance expert if your background there is lacking. Having a mentor who knows the landscape will help you avoid costly mistakes that you’re inevitably going to make if you go it alone.

3. Follow the rules

It’s important to abide by the rules in school, but when starting a business, it’s even more critical. Choosing the legal structure of your business is one of the first steps you’ll need to take. This will have big impact on the tax, liability and other legal aspects of your business. A limited liability company (LLC) is the most common form because of the flexibility it provides, in addition to protecting its owners from personal liability.

It’s also imperative to have a lawyer who specialises in intellectual property take a look at your proposal early on to prevent potentially expensive and troublesome business changes later.

Bottom line: You’ll need to jump through legal hoops no matter what business you decide to open, and when it comes to issues of legality, that’s not a task you want to DIY.

Related: Why You Shouldn’t Quit Your Job To Start A Business

4. Study, study, study

Studying reinforces and creates a stronger foundation for what you learn in class. Likewise, it’s crucial to perform the necessary market research as you create a business plan and pitch to investors. You don’t want to fork over your life savings to start a business only to realise customers don’t want your product or service.

While many people think market research only involves researching demand, there are many more factors involved. Determining the size of the market, how many similar products it contains, and how much people are willing to pay for the various options available are all important to positioning your product or service successfully, according to the U.S. Small Business Administration.

Before you had your business idea, you probably thought coming up with it was the hard part. It turns out the hardest part is yet to come. A study from Statistic Brain Research Institute found that more than half of all U.S. companies will fail after five years. So instead of rushing into business before you’re ready, do your homework to give your start-up the best possible chance of success.

This article was originally posted here on

Rahul Varshneya is the co-founder of Arkenea LLC, a company committed to helping entrepreneurs and businesses build, market and monetize their mobile apps, with offices in San Jose, Calif. and Pune, India.

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Start-up Advice

Put On Your Wellies: It’s Time To Wade Into Risk

Entrepreneurs aren’t all leaping into the unknown like lemmings off a cliff, but they do need to consider it…

Chris Ogden




You’ve had a great idea. You’ve looked into its development. You’ve recognised that it has potential beyond just what Auntie Mabel and Mike From The Grocer think. And you’ve clearly nailed a pain point that can make money. Now it is time to take the risk of running with it.

Every big idea comes with risk. You can’t step out into the world of entrepreneurial thinking and business development without it. Your idea may fail. It will also be time consuming, demanding, hungry for money, and hard work. It is unrealistic to expect that your project will leap out into the world and be an unmitigated success.

It is also unrealistic to assume that it isn’t worth taking this risk.

There are steps that you can follow to ensure that your risk is managed so you aren’t blindly leaping off that cliff…

Step 01: Do your research

No, canvassing your neighbours, friends and family is not doing research. You need to know that your idea will appeal to a broad market and that it will have significant legs. This may sound like daft advice, but you would be surprised how many people think an idea will take off just because Susan in Accounting said so.

Step 02: Understand the costs

Projects are hungry for money and investment. Realistically work out your budgets and how much it will cost to take your project off the ground and then stick to it.

A calculated risk is a far better bet than one that shoots from the hip and hopes for the best. You can also use this as an opportunity to draw a clear line under where you will stop investing and end the project. If it keeps eating money and isn’t getting anywhere with results you need to be able to walk away.

Step 03: Know when to walk away

As mentioned before, this can be defined by a line you’ve drawn in the proverbial sand (and budget) but no matter where you draw this line, you have to stick to it. Often, when time, money and energy have been poured into a project it can be incredibly hard to walk away.

You think ‘but I have put so much into this, just one more’ and then it gets to a point where the ‘just one more’ has taken you so far down the line that walking away feels impossible. Leave. Learn the lessons. Apply them to your next project.

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Start-up Advice

Mind The Gap

The entrepreneur’s guide to finding the gaps and building the right solutions.

Chris Ogden




Innovation may very well be the key to business success but finding the gap into which your innovative thinking can fit is often a lot harder than people realise. Some may be struck by inspiration in the shower, others by that moment of blinding insight in a meeting, however, for most people finding that big idea isn’t that simple. They want to be an entrepreneur and start their own high-growth business, but they need some ideas on how to find that big idea.

Here are five…

1. Network

It sounds trite but networking is actually an excellent way of picking up on patterns and trends in conversation and business problems. The trick is to note them down and pay attention. Soon, you will find patterns emerging and ideas forming.

2. Look for pain

Just as networking can reveal trends in the market, so can spending time reading. The latter will also help you find common business pain points. These are the touchpoints that frustrate people, annoy business owners, affect productivity, or impact employee engagement.

Be the Panado that fixes these pains.

3. Luck


This is probably the most annoying of the ideas, but it is unfortunately (or fortunately) very true. Luck does play a role in helping you capture that big idea. However, luck isn’t just standing around and random people offering you opportunities. Luck is found at networking events, it is found in research and it is found in conversations with other entrepreneurs.

4. Luck needs courage

You may have found the big idea through your network, a pain point or pure blind luck, but if you don’t have the courage to take it and run with it, you will lose it to someone else.

Being bold in business is highly underrated because most people assume that everyone is bold and prepared to take big leaps into the unknown. However, not all brilliant entrepreneurs were ready to throw their family funds to the wind and leap into an idea – they were courageous enough to figure out a way of harnessing their ideas realistically.

5. Pay attention

This is probably one of the most vital ways of finding a gap in the market. Often, people are so busy that they don’t really pay attention to that niggling issue that always bothers them on a commute, or in a mall, or at a meeting. This niggling issue could very well be the next big business opportunity. Pay attention to it and find out if that issue can be solved with your innovative thinking.

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Start-up Advice

5 Things To Know About Your “Toddler” Business

As you navigate this new toddler phase of your business, here are five things to bear in mind.

Catherine Black




Ah, toddlers. Those irresistible bundles of joy bring a huge amount of energy, curiosity and fun to any family – but there’s also frustration and worry that comes with their unpredictability, as they grow and start to become more independent. If you own a business and it’s successfully past its “infancy” of the first year or so, it’s likely it will also go through a toddler stage of its lifecycle.

Pete Hammond, founder of luxury safari company SafariScapes, agrees with this. “Our business is now three and a half years old, and we’ve found that we’re not yet big enough to justify employing a large team of people to handle the day-to-day admin tasks, yet we still need to grow the business as well,” he says. “As a result, our main challenge is finding the time to step back and see the bigger picture. Kind of like when you are raising a busy toddler and you spend most of your time running after them!”

As you navigate this new toddler phase of your business, here are five things to bear in mind:

1. This too shall pass

Everything in life is temporary – and that goes for both the good and the bad. It’s as helpful to remember this when you’re facing the might of a toddler temper tantrum, as it is when you’re facing throws of uncertainty in your business. If your new(ish) venture is going through a rough patch in its first few years, it can be easy to think about giving up – but don’t. As long as you have an overall big idea that you believe can add value to your customers, keep pushing through the rough parts until you come out the other side.

2. Appreciate what this phase brings

The toddler years mean that the initial newborn joy is officially behind you. But these small humans also bring their own kinds of joy, as you watch them learn new skills, say funny things, and give affection back to you. While your two-year-old business may not hold the same exhilaration for you as it did during those first few months, there are now different things to appreciate about it: Maybe you’re expanding your product range, or employing new people who can take the workload off you.

3. Establish boundaries

Toddlers thrive on boundary and routine – and your toddler business will too. As it grows into a new phase, try and establish limits in terms of the type of clients you want to work with and the type of work you’ll do. It’s also a good idea to make a decision about the hours you’ll work and when you’ll switch off, which will help you establish a good work-life balance.

4. Take a break

Every parent with a toddler needs a break every now and then, even if that means a walk around the block (on your own!), a dinner out with friends, or even a few days away. The same is true for a demanding small business: every so often, remember to take time out to rest properly, where you switch off your laptop and completely unplug. You’ll return much more inspired and resilient to deal with the everyday uncertainty that it brings.

5. Give it space to make mistakes

While the unpredictability of a young business can be stressful and tiring, it’s also a time for trying new things without the risk of huge consequences if they don’t quite work. After all, it’s much simpler to change your USP if you’re a small business employing a few people, rather than a big company where 50 people are relying on you for their salary, or where you’ve received a huge amount of investment capital. While you may fail in some of the things you try with your business (in fact, this is almost guaranteed), see it as a toddler that’s resilient enough to pick itself up, dust its knees and keep moving forward.

During this phase of business growth it’s also essential to have the right type of medical aid cover. There are medical schemes such as Fedhealth which has a number of medical aid options and value-added benefits to ensure that your health and wellness is taken care of too. After all, the healthier you and your staff are, the more productive your business will be – during the toddler (business) stage and beyond.

While this phase can be frustrating, it’s a sign that your business is growing and adapting, rather than remaining in its infancy, and that can only be a good thing! So embrace the difficulties, learn from them, and watch as your business strides forward confidently into the next exciting phase.

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