Once you have decided that the peripheral ideas are sound and the go to market strategy is the optimal one , you go about and set up your startup in a form of an entity.
This could be a pvt ltd enterprise , a partnership firm or any of the 2-3 options that the current registrar of companies accept. A word of caution here , read up about the pros and cons of the entity type very clearly before you take the leap. Some models have a clear advantage over the others when starting up whilst others are better , even though more expensive , in the longer run.
Whatever your decision maybe , my post today is about the little things that matter , as always. God is in the details and the tiny things , as they say! While you have the know how and technical knowledge to start up and go about your business , you need a team of people around you who will help you with these tiny but all important details.
Start with a good Chartered Accountant for e.g. This unique breed helps you navigate the complexities of setting up your organisation and de mystify the jargon surrounding the establishment. India has definitely progressed in the ease of setting up a start up but spending a lot of your time in non profitable , non revenue generating activities in the beginning of your journey , is something you need to avoid.
At this time your most important commodity is your own time. Use it judiciously. What worked for us is getting a local CA who stayed with us since inception handling all the filing requirements , board resolutions , AGM’s and their filings , applying for a DIN , making sure that your returns are filed correctly and once you go past a year , ensure the balance sheets are prepared in such a way that you are able to attract further investments.
Similarly there are plenty of players in the startup journey that traditionally you may consider a cost center. Don’t scrimp on these. They are important cogs of the startup wheel. We engaged a lot of these in the form of a branding freelancer for designing our logo, basis our inputs , to a patent lawyer who filed for trademarks so that our brand would remain ours for posterity !
As you move ahead , depending upon your core competence and the ones of your core team you would need people of a certain caliber around you. Most investors look at the technology or the product as a core business and prefer the core team to contain a technical person , a software professional with a vision if you look at a software or similar service product or a operations guru if yours is unrelated to a software build.
The core team should have the person controlling your service features and whose primary responsibility it is to ensure that your product is built to the requirements of your audience. If that’s you, all the better ! If not get a person who will sync with you to move your ideas to fruition. Very important !
Then comes the rest. Hiring your employees is a task that is of highest importance ! While initially you would handpick your team , when you grow you will need to rely on your sense of the company to translate to the values that your team must have to work with you. Getting an external agency to do this might sound simple , but research and partner with the right one. Be open to changing the partner or addressing issues that might crop up when you launch. It’s a process that keeps evolving. And like a Chinese whisper every time you pass the baton of values to someone else to do the job , expect a slight mismatch in the thought process.
Marketing ! In today’s day and age , this is no longer a cost center. Be it digital , out of home physical , Public relations or any other medium , marketing plays a pivotal role in how your customers perceive you. I would recommend insourcing the decision maker for this position but hiring an agency to implement the vision of the core team. Digital marketing is always evolving and an agency whose only business is this, will be able to manage the business far better than one person within your team. Having said that , it’s important you control what your brand stands for , hence the in-house marketing guru.
PR is a similar avenue that I personally feel is overlooked by a lot of startups. Getting your name in the news , be it in the papers , blogs , digital media , forums that tour customers might frequent etc is of paramount importance. This is also an ongoing exercise that needs constant monitoring. Get a good agency on retainer to plan and execute this. Spend time with them to design how your brand will look in eyes of the public , this is after all why you started up !
As and when you become more and more successful, bigger , you will need more leaders to be a part of your startup. Start looking out for them, grooming them. That would be the primary role that the successful startup leader would find himself or herself playing. Happy starting !