The old man down the street had visited my home yesterday. I don’t even know him much. An acquaintance of my late grandpa it seems. Of the many things he had spoken yesterday, he couldn’t resist asking “Kid, have you got a job? What are the companies that come for your campus recruitment?”. I mentioned a few names and none of it seemed to ring a bell in his head. He wore a puzzled look and I could definitely judge that he wasn’t so pleased. Not very surprisingly, much of what I mentioned to him were startups.
Founded by independent entrepreneurs and enthusiasts, startups make great inroads in revolutionary product design and concept. Such is the impact they create that no wonder, they are the biggest things today. Back in times, public sector jobs enjoyed maximum craze among people. And ‘90s was seen as the era of private companies. Lucrative salary, perks, recognition and what not? People were vying to get settled down with them. But sure, times are changing. Many are opting to work in a startup today. And quite a few, just out of college, are considering starting their own.
What is it with these startups? Can anyone start a company of their own? Mind you, it takes more than just technical competency to survive the rat race out there. There are a lot many factors that define the success of a company. From the idea, team and product, everything and anything about a startup can influence your reach. You can be sure that you will grow and mature a lot when it comes to a startup. Be it an employee or the CEO, there is always something in store for you to learn from a startup. But, if not monitored or looked after properly, the price you then have to pay will weigh heavy on your shoulders. Here’s how to make your own hit story.
An idea that can click. Big time!
Most of the companies that are at the forefront today, were once little startups. They didn’t have the capital, resource or the right people to start big. All they had with them, relied upon was their idea. An idea that was revolutionary and game changing. It always seems like there is no new idea that has not been implemented already. Well then, my friend, you aren’t thinking enough. As times evolve, people evolve and so do their needs. All you need is to identify the gap and fill it up.
Don’t think of scaling big with your idea, just yet. Start small. Focus on whom you are addressing and clearly decide on what you are trying achieve. This will be your vision, goal, mission statement or whatever you call, that will be the very reason your company exists. It is much like solving a programming problem. Make an algorithm and write a program. Likewise, fix an idea and then use proper means and technology to implement what you wanted to do. Public will buy your product if it is really worth it.
Might sound silly to you, but there are actually some who simply believe that making good changes in UI alone can differentiate one from the others. Trust me, people are not all that stupid. At least, not anymore. I can name about a dozen sites that tried to ape Facebook. Much of them posing greater features than the original. But, eventually they had to see their fate. It is always that the one who comes first shall win the race. There is no place for the second and third here. However good and efficient you are at what you do, most of the times, it is always the one who does it first gets credited for what is done.
Although design does speak a lot about you, it doesn’t necessarily have to be glittery and fancy. Simple and elegant design that is eye catchy and user friendly is all that is required to get started. If you are smart enough, you will know what to change and when to do. But, the very first thing that needs to be done is to make an idea and believe in it, from the heart like it is everything and anything.
Hiring human resource. The right kind
Getting correct people aboard is very crucial. I kind of see recruiting people and making love as the same. Just as how a bad decision in choosing your partner can screw your life altogether, bringing an incompetent workforce can prove fatal to your company as well.
The people you choose can be bad at speaking, might not have technical knowhow. All that is okay. But, never compromise on trustworthiness. When it comes to small companies, co-operating and trusting each other is essential. Even a small misunderstanding and a mistake made can impact heavily. A bad employee and your treatment towards him shall influence other workers’ mentality to continue to work for you. Be impartial. Be factual.
At the same time, you should learn to respect your employees. Treat them like they are your friends. Be social. Respect others’ decisions. Make them feel responsible. Credit them what they do. Surprise them with presents and perks. These might seem like very little things, but it is what that makes working in a startup enjoyable and down the lane, it is the one that defines you and your company.
A very important thing for you to do would be to network. With people. If you are thinking about posting ads in social media for job openings, sorry, it doesn’t work that way. With startups, you are the face of the company. The more you connect and become sociable, the more you get known. And that is how, people come to you, become friends with you, trust you and want to work with you. Networking can get you contacts, references and that is how half the hiring is done for a startup.
One common mistake that happens is hiring people who are all aligned the same way you are towards the organization. That won’t work always. Your startup is like a jigsaw puzzle and you form a piece of it. What you need is another piece that can fit with you and solve the puzzle. Not the same as you. Also to view a problem in all directions, you need people who could think of it differently even if he doesn’t agree with what you are saying. You don’t want people who say “Yes” and “I agree” to whatever you tell. Do you?
Colleges are of course, the habitat of great talent. It is where you go to recruit employees for your company. But, another common mistake people do is to judge them by their marks. Personally, I know a lot of students with huge potential who do not score well in exams. Marks speak only to a little extent. Go beyond academics, see where else the person has scored. Check with his social profiles – Facebook, Github, Stackoverflow and the like. That can give you a lot of insight on what kind of a person he/she is. Key to find the right guy is to devise your own hiring strategy – one that is aligned with what your company is doing, what its future plan is and keep in mind that it should also test if the person can go well along with the existing force. Be flexible in the way you test. If necessary, conduct online and telephonic interviews. Appreciate quality ideas and lateral thinking. Be open to suggestions and questions.
Getting social. Marketing
Needless to say that this is a key component to the success of any organization. Take good advantage of the tools around like Twitter, Facebook, Google Plus etc. Not just that. Follow related forums and other platforms where your product or company’s offering might be discussed. Get periodic feedback from users and customers. Analyze them for good and bad stuff and take in all that is required. Users never fail to ask questions. Although, sometimes boring, it is important to answer their queries however basic their doubt may be. You never know what on the other side of the river sees of you. Arrange for demonstrations and people spaces where users can interact and discuss.
Make a connection via whatever medium possible. Newsletters, Giveaways, contests etc. It is important that you find means to create a buzz about your company. Attend conferences and shows, setup stalls and demonstrate and publicize the maximum you can. The contacts you have will help you here. Stay in constant touch with bloggers and websites. Always feed them with something to speak about you. That can provide reach in media circles. Having a connection with PR people of news magazines and papers is an added plus.
Startup – May I?
Startups are unique ecosystems. Many things you learn from it and derive out of it are nowhere to be found in a conventional workspace. The creativity and freedom you get is amazing. You learn a lot. For people who love taking up challenges and solving them, startup is the right place to be. But, being able to solve them is not enough. Perseverance – Consistency and determination to face whatever comes shall take you to great heights. Good luck !