As a founder of a start-up there are certain things you must do, things you need to have:
Demand for your product or service. What is it that you can provide, that someone will actually pay for?
Competition indicating a market. Namely, indication of market inefficiency. The best start-ups tend to target a market that has not yet sufficiently met the need or desire for a solution.
Structure. Pretty simple, your idea needs a plan. You can’t just go to market with an idea – you need to know how to roll it out, support it, finance it, market it etc.
Funding. How much up-front investment will this product require to develop?
But most importantly, you need belief. You need to know that your start-up will make an impact. Because let’s face it, if you don’t believe in your business why the hell should anybody else?
Let me give you an example or two which have inspired me on those rare nights when doubt creeps into the corners of my mind…
Have you ever heard of the Trunki? A Trunki is a ride on hand luggage suitcase for children. You’ve probably seen kids scooting around on them in airports. Invented by Rob Law, the start-up appeared in the BBC programme, Dragons Den. Despite being a promising concept, Rob walked away with no investments as the only offering was for £100k and 50% equity.
Having two little boys, we have Trunki as well, a gift from a grandma. Fancy-pancy red fire engine with a pull strap. I personally find it utterly useless, apart from running around the corridors in the house, taking it on holiday is a terrible idea. You can’t pack much inside, smaller kids get bored with riding after about 47 seconds, and I see tonnes of parents every time I travel, carrying one or two Trunies on their arms together with baby bags, hand luggage, duty-free and their actual luggage.
However, as of 2016 the Trunki has sold well over 3 million units worldwide and has won over 100 product design awards. So much for the all-knowing ‘Dragons’, those masters of industry and investment!
I can hear you say, “But he must of at least half expected to be rejected by the Dragons”. Well try this one on for size, Justdeals.com is a deals site which specialises in offering flash deals on electronic and consumer goods. The site got off to a good start and Frank Jadhavji, the co-founder, was making a real go of it. Buying up re-furbished goods and snapping up closing down sales before selling further on at a discount. After the first year the company was self-sustaining and all looked good.
Enter a van slamming through their main warehouse doors in the middle of the night, thieves took the lot – £300k worth of merchandise with most of it already sold. Frank didn’t let a little thing like that stop him and after some quick dealings with insurance companies, some very real customer service wherein they offered discounts, coupons and comparable products they pulled through. Today the site is still flourishing with more traffic than ever. Now that is a fine example of willpower, belief and excellent crisis management.
So, get out there, believe in your idea, believe in yourself. You may be capable of a hell of a lot more than you think and it is now your job to convince others of it too. For many people running start-ups, one of the biggest obstacles to success is themselves. I’ll tell you one thing though, when the day comes that a van smashes through your start-up’s warehouse doors, you can either fight for your company or give in. And I’m ready to fight.