Tech Startup Growth
20th July 2019
Rebecca Genovese, Winshaw
This article explores the three key questions you must consider before deciding whether now is the right time to turn your idea into a business.
Starting a business is not for everyone, so how do you know when to take the leap? There are three important parts of the jigsaw that need to be in place; the right mindset, the right product, and the right support network. The right timing is a questionable fourth fundamental but, in our experience, you could be waiting forever if you expect the perfect window to emerge.
In this article we discuss the three key themes of mindset, product and support before exploring how to decide whether now is the right time.
Starting, running and growing a business is not for the faint hearted. Firstly, are you curious? Do you wonder how your life might turn out if you take the step? Have you considered the feeling of freedom, freedom to plan your own journey? And with that freedom comes control, your ability to control your own destiny. If you enjoy setting the direction, like to lead a team and want to drive a company or product forward through an inspiring vision, then you fit the profile.
This ambition may manifest itself as frustration or boredom within your current role, but starting a business can quickly turn this negative energy into a force for good.
Finally, would you say you had a growth mindset? A key differentiator between those who get by, and those who outperform the market is all in the mind. A willingness to keep going, to persist, to try new ways forward. Ultimately, a willingness to take measured risks whilst backing that up with hard graft. Do you want to know the answer to the question, “what if”?
Big question. And before we get on to the execution risk of putting your ground-breaking idea into action, how can you do your homework and validate whether your idea has what it takes to not only survive, but excel in a highly competitive world. This question is framed by how you define success. Are you looking to build a lifestyle business or a high-growth tech unicorn?
Evaluating whether there is a market for your product prior to launch ultimately comes down to market research.
Your personality type will dictate how much time and effort you invest in market research. A creative, expressive, optimistic individual will most likely be sold on the bigger picture and any data to the contrary could be brushed off. If you fall into this category, then it would be worthwhile linking up with someone of a more analytical mindset to challenge and balance out your views.
On the other hand, a more analytical individual could benefit from the inspiration and decision-making abilities of an extrovert. Leaders come in all shapes and sizes; and understanding your own personality and biases can help you interpret the decisions you make. Validating your market is such an important part of your decision to proceed so in order to answer this question, consider who could best support or challenge your thinking. Embrace conflict early.
Starting a new business suddenly forces you to take on responsibility for things other people may have covered in the past. An ability to navigate unfamiliar tasks in the early days is crucial to survival. You will need to become comfortable being uncomfortable. However, recognising your own strengths and weaknesses means you can build a network of support to maximise your chance of success.
For instance, if you are looking to secure funding but fear cold calling, networking and pitching, then what support networks do you have in place to spread the load? Most people don’t have ready access to people who can help so you may want to look for accelerator programmes or ask other people treading the same path for some advice.
Ultimately you need to find your own niche and style of leadership in order to start and grow a successful business. Delegating responsibility and letting others be accountable for parts of your business will become unavoidable for those seeking accelerated growth. Nonetheless, there remains key roles within any business that the founder must own; the vision, culture, product and investor relations. On top of this, we also see business where founders own the customer relationship (especially in the first 2-3 years), outperform those where the CEO takes a back seat and leaves this to the sale team.
If you have got this far in your evaluation of whether to go it alone, one could argue there is no time like the present. Most people never pull the trigger, hence our view earlier that waiting for the perfect time will most likely be a very long wait. Economic uncertainty, personal reasons, access to funding, other upcoming demands on cash are all legitimate reasons to delay. But mainly they are excuses. Great ideas, and great entrepreneurs can overcome all of these risks through proper due diligence and good planning. The risk is never as great as perceived once a complete system is put in place to nurture your idea from concept to scaleup.