Every Start-up is different from the other like the five fingers of our hand, having said that the basics needed for a start-up are universal. How does one know where to start or what’s needed for a beginning with a bang while also ensuring the longevity of the business? Below I would like to emphasize on the five key aspects that ensure a smooth take off for any start-up.
While these opinions vary from industry to industry or man to man, it’s my formed understanding from past experiences that the following are five key factors necessary for any start – up to establish itself in a market that’s controlled by cut-throat competition. While it isn’t easy prioritizing amongst the following five they are the most important aspects for any start-ups.
I start with human resources because the foundation of any organization lies in its HR system. It always helps to have a robust system in place right from the word go. While most companies have embraced the idea of outsourcing the HR system I personally believe it shouldn’t be the case when it comes to a start-up. The HR department should be set-up with the risk containment unit (RCU) under its wings. This I say because this is the first step towards putting together a team that is efficient and relevant. While the HR team manages the recruitment, the RCU should conduct extensive background verification for every recruited candidate.
This ensures good health of the start-up in terms of human capital. But before this, it is essential to have a fool proof Human Resource Management System In place that can manage everything from candidate profiling to recruitments and finally appointments. Also, it is important that the HR department head is someone with extensive geographical and technical experience who can have a pan India outlook when it comes to putting in place a strong team of professionals. A good recruitment consultant can make the entire process of hiring worthwhile. Most consultants already have a strong database of prospects and this further simplifies the recruitment process. The HR team needs to bear in mind that it should only promise what it can achieve and ensure that it achieves whatever promises are made.
Branding & Marketing
Brand names and corresponding logos need to be catchy and relevant to the business. They are the primary visual ambassadors of your business. And for this very reason, one needs to ensure that the brand name and logo produce a strong recall value. Be it the color, spelling, choice of fonts, basic appearance and appropriateness in the markets of operation, they all need to achieve perfect synchrony. The brand should instantly achieve an emotional connect with the target audience. Also, the brand name and logo need to be relevant to the product or service you are about to offer. For instance, if you are a start-up that’s getting into the provision of legal services, your brand name and logo shouldn’t evoke the feeling of a food entity in the minds of the consumers.
Once that is done, the marketing team comes into play. But contrary to popular perception social media campaigns aren’t really that effective for the simple reason that majority of people use social media for personal interactions and not necessarily for business activities. But that does not mean social media campaigns are ineffective. What one needs is a wholesome well-rounded marketing strategy in place. For this first one needs to identify the target audience by age group and geographical location. A well-rounded marketing strategy should strike a perfect balance between social media campaigns and the traditional advertising ways and means.
Website and Social Presence
Everybody today boasts of owning a website, but is it optimized? Does it serve the purpose it was created for? The fact is anybody can create a website but what’s important is the creation of an optimized website. It sure isn’t easy to develop a website that carries good relevant content and at the same time provides the visitors a good UI. A website is like a company’s personality. It should reveal the right attitude; it should be smart, presentable and intelligent. This can be achieved only through a good strong content.
Content, so good that it creates a word of mouth campaign by itself. At the same time, you also need to ensure that the content provided is relevant and truthful. The website is your storybook, and hence you need to ensure that it contains on credible data. It is also the best place to gauge perceptions of your brands and products. Good sites balance design and functionality.
Any business needs a good, strong capital in place to start off. Else, with time it would crumple under the weight of its own debts. A business without funding is just a body without life. If marketing is the life form of a business, funding is the oxygen the body needs to stay alive. There are multiple ways of raising capital for a business. A business can take different avenues to attain funding, and more than one option can be used.
The chosen funding will depend on the business’ desire to be in debt, how solvent the business owners are at the time the business is founded and the amount of money a business will need to launch and maintain itself through a variety of events. Everything requires money and to get the business rolling one needs seed money. This could be a business owner’s personal investment or through an investor brought on board or even through crowd funding. If it’s one’s own money invested then he needs to understand how solvent he is in order to avert debts. It is imperative to have a strong financial plan in place before a business even takes its first step.
Today the start-up market in India is nothing less than a battlefield and in such a scenario a start-up needs to insulate itself from liability which can be achieved by a strong legal counsel. Ideally, the legal team you hire should provide you with experienced advisors who can handle everything from registration, intellectual property, employment terms and conditions and financial laws as a whole. Incorporation is essential in cases where start-ups expect investors to come on board. Today investors insist on having all legal formalities and paperwork complete and in place before the business even kick starts. Also, your legal advisor can put in place all the requisite contracts in place, be it for recruitment, purchase or vendor agreement. According to me, this is the most important phase in a start-up scenario.
Unless you have the legalities in place it would make absolutely no sense in moving forward with the other aspects of business. You need a proper code of conduct in effect before you start enforcing the contract. A legal team should also be in a position to predict possible risks that may arise in due course and be prepared to take it on. They are also well equipped to advise you on the necessary licenses you may need to start your business. A good legal advisor can also help you manage your taxes well and guide you towards reducing huge tax bills.
Contributed by Bala Nadar, CEO, Startupwala.com
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