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  • rob Darwin

Startup2021, A really good idea, well executed...10 tips

Rob founded so that startups could be well supported in their journey to exit. He and his colleagues have interviewed and helped more than 100 companies, investors and advisors. These articles are based on the distillation and inspiration of the combined experience. The articles are designed to be simple and actionable, as entrepreneurs and investors tend to be very busy. As part of “giving back” for all the help and advice the he received while doing the journey, we will be giving (free) 2 short help sessions every week for free to early stage businesses (see resources at the end). We also provide a range of commercial services orientated towards a successful journey from startup to exit.

Most startups fail, mostly through avoidable execution errors, not bad luck or a bad idea. It’s no fun in a failing startup, so this advice may make you both richer and happier!

I have immense respect for the heroic endeavours of entrepreneurs, who must strive against the “nay-saying” of their good idea. However one must not confuse well-intended suggestions for Better Execution as criticism of your Good Idea.

A really good idea… is something that your customers, suppliers, team, investors and acquirer (industry sale, floatation etc) will understand and admire. All too often I hear “our (potential) customers do not understand us"! Unfortunately that understanding is the responsibility of the entrepreneur.

…well executed just because you are about to revolutionise your chosen space, does not mean that you should take any unnecessary risks. There are a whole lot of straight-forward and proven management techniques. A risk that fails will wound or kill your visionary business, so if you care, then control your risks. We have even boiled them down and aligned them for the journey.

Also: The points that I make here generally get a “yeah yeah" from a lot of entrepreneurs, sadly meaning “I understand you", rather than “I won’t forget this advice from others who have trod the path before me”.

A theoretician was passing a building, and noticed with horror that there was a small fire. He was then relieved to see a bucket of water, and said to himself “ah the solution is obvious”…and walked on.

A really good idea…

1) Know your market and the players, just to be sure, put it on paper!

2) Communicate your Vision/Offering clearly and relevantly to all your stakeholders…in their language

3) Talk and bit, then listen more. Sure, you will get some bad and some negative responses, but avoid the trap of being defensive about “your baby”, and be happy to learn the easy way!

4) Validate (1) the market, (2) your product, (3) the business (4) the investment proposition

5) Keep it simple, usable and useful. Sometimes entrepreneurs go into a complexity spiral, when they are not connecting with the customer. Focus on the client and their needs is really important, the more useful you are, the more value you can supply, and the more money you are worth and can charge!

Well executed…

6) The CEO is responsible for running the business. All too often entrepreneurs discover the value of a TRUE CEO the hard way (once they have finished blaming others and poor luck!)

7) Commit to periodic review and reflection, don’t just sprint all the time. You must check that you are going in the right direction, and are learning as you go.

8) Define and build responsibility in your team, if everyone is doing everything, then no one is responsible for anything, you are wasting time, and unfocused

9) Get a diverse team, with relevant experience. A diverse team is important for success. Mono-cultural business can be very introspective and frequently ignore “reality”. Worse still, doing things solo can a recipe for disaster, I yet to meet an entrepreneur who said that they were happy to do it on their own.

10) Manage your risks, do not take unnecessary risks, if you are doing this journey you probably have enough risk already!

… here’s one more thing...

11) Make it fun, forgiving, energetic and happy, because it will be hard work

…good luck!

Resources: we will be posting some resources in the next couple of weeks, but in the meanwhile, if you would like to get to the front of the queue for the "freebie" sessions, or would like to know more, or just chat about something, please connect with me on LinkedIn



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