StartupGuy

I am StartupGuy
I start a fire with ice

Born: 29th July 19XX

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November 15, 2019 StartupGuy0

We all love to craft our own ideas in order to build a niche, and that very much requires making some hard decisions. I mean…. Starting your own business is more than projecting numbers and looking at profits.

It could even mean leaving your current job. We may often crib about our boring work and horrible bosses. But are we driven enough to do something new out of boredom or passion?

If you’re confused and curious, consider these 10 important points to definitely add substance to your contemplation. Things to ponder over while quitting the job to start a business:

 

1. Are you ready for the bumpy ride?

Leaving behind the corporate league with one foot in the entrepreneurial journey is certainly a risky encounter. Are you actually ready to face the roller coaster ride of this new life? Business means that you will be on your own with nothing to fall back on. Are you ready for that?

2. Are You ready to take on multiple roles?

You’re soon going to be a boss, and that means wearing multiple hats. You will have to carry out several functions with or without resources at your disposal. This is until you start making those leaping gains. The experience of self-employment can prove to be more challenging than that of being an employee. Are you ready for that?

3. Are you willing to burn bridges for a better tomorrow?

Don’t resign abruptly from your current job until you’re sure that’s what you really want to do for the rest of your life. What if your employer could help launch you? You need to pull off a few stunts heroically. A new venture requires a breakthrough idea, support and effective execution. Are you ready to stake it all?

4. Are you ready to brush up on your skills frequently?

The market dynamics in this current scenario changes within a fraction of a second, calling for changing your strategy as and when. How comfortable would you be to rework on your own products, ideas and services, so they level with the brilliance prevailing in the market?

5. Are you ready for a new routine?

Starting a business from the scratch is going to surely take away most of your time, thus keeping you away from your family, friends and barricading your social life. You will have to evaluate and measure up the odds of risking your personal life to a certain extent in order to make it work. Are you ready for that?

6. Do you have enough resources for your new venture?

Having an idea is never enough but you are going to need efficient planning, implementation and adequate resources to run the show. Ask yourself the kind of resources that you have so as to push your venture ahead. Are they enough?

7. Are you ready for the grueling sessions?

Get ready for the grill. From selling the product to monitoring accounting and even advertising, you really gotta have all the answers!

8. Are you open to constructive and destructive criticism?

As an entrepreneur, you’ll need to be assertive and otherwise be able to accept other’s opinion about your work and products. Are you willing to take in the destructive criticism with grace?

9. Can you ignore euphemistic people or opponents?

Your success may bite your opponents hard. If people provide you with devastating information or hinder your vision, work and career, can you bypass them? Can you actually not give a damn?

10. Do you want this MORE than anything?

If this is what gives a kick, then you must invest in your venture and importantly, your future too. Ask yourself if you’re willing to let go the fancy frenzy of the corporate, and live a more rigorous but fulfilling life.

Are you sure about removing the corporate badge and entering the entrepreneurial space? If you’re not still, then reconsider your options again.


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January 9, 2019 StartupGuy0

For decades, entrepreneurs have been creating brands that we have all enjoyed.

But how does this happen? How do people come up with ideas that untimely consume our lives and take over the retail market? It’s pretty simple, they find solutions to problems. That is the key to entrepreneurial success. Let’s look at one of my favorite successful brands:

When Steve Jobs and Steve Wozniak invented the Apple I computer, it started as a hobby. They eventually invented the Apple II which became the first personal computer with color graphics and a keyboard. They saw and problem, and then created a solution. That year, they had sales over 3 million dollars. Again, the key to the initial success of the Apple product was they solved a problem.

Most entrepreneurs are very creative people. Not only do they act differently, they think differently. They draw upon their personality traits to come up with ideas that can be either insane or genius, if not both. Even when their ideas are not an original thought, they tend to solve a problem.

Often times the problem was initially solved by someone else, and they improved upon it. The thing that most successful entrepreneurs have in common is they “JUST DO IT”. Just like the Nike slogan. There are so many people with great ideas, yet there are even more people that will give those people with great ideas, a reason that their idea will not work.

There will never be a shortage of people to discourage you from pursuing your dreams. You need to understand that most people don’t have the courage to start and stick with the ups and downs that come with being an entrepreneur or starting something of your own.

This is why there will always be employees and employers. So many people love the security of being able to show up and simply do a job. It rarely requires any planning, and usually requires the simple ability to follow basic instructions and do as you’re told.

Entrepreneurs sometimes learn as they go. Often times there are hard lessons of trial and error. You have to be determined and work hard. Most importantly, if you want to be a success, you can’t quit. It is for these reasons, that so many businesses do not make it.

Many people start a business and don’t have the financial or emotional support to keep it going during the difficult times. Most businesses will experience difficulties here and there. You can’t allow those times to discourage you. I love to look at the big picture.

The reason you started this business and birthed this baby. You saw a need and sought to fix a problem. The next step is to share your resolution with the world. In today’s world of social media. They have made sharing our business or product as easy as the click of a button.

This brings me to the next important point about being a successful entrepreneur. People have to know that you exist. What is the point of solving a problem that so many can benefit from if you are not able to share it with the people that need it most?

Marketing and advertising are so important to the business world that it is generally the largest business expense. Here are a few ways that you can market your business without having to pay a fortune. Embrace social media. There are so many social platforms out there that you can use to talk about who you are and what you are doing.

However, we can never forget about the value and importance of meeting people and talking about what you do and how you two can support each other. There are also the other ways to promote your business: television, radio, and print.

The key is to get your business in front of the world and show as many people as you can what it is that you do, or offer and how they benefit. The more people know about your product or services, the more sales you will have assumed that your product is good and that it does what you say it will do.

Now that you’ve got all of this, what can you do the maximize your opportunity for success? Always keep your big vision in sight. In business, things with inherently go wrong. Keeping the big vision insight will help you to stay on the right path despite the distractions and interruptions you may experience.

It may not be the course that you imagine, but the vision should always lead you back down the correct path. You will need the perseverance to keep moving forward. Sometimes things will get really challenging. You will need to commit yourself to move forward regardless of the discomfort and fear of failure.

Knowing that there will be more people that will encourage you to return to your 9 to 5 working for someone else than those that will encourage you to stay focused on your dream and keep working at it; you must learn to encourage and support yourself through your entrepreneurial endeavors.

Staying focused is going to be very difficult, but necessary. Entrepreneurs are always on. You are the brand, and whatever you are going through personally, you must keep the success of the brand in the forefront of your mind. One of the best ways to stay focused is to create a to-do list. I generally store my list in the notes section of my phone. This way it is always with me and I have the ability to keep it constantly updated.

You will find yourself bombarded with inbox messages and social media posts. You need to be mindful that not only will those constant notifications distract you, but somehow those notifications become others’ to-do list for you. if you aren’t careful, it can easily take priority over your own to do list.

On Sunday nights I plan out accomplishments I want to achieve during the week. Monday mornings, I prioritize what I plan to do during the days, and create time blocks for me to stay focused on those things. I also take the time to schedule breaks.

The mind can only be so great at extended periods of times. Breaks are a very important part of being able to rejuvenate your thoughts and to refocus.


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December 24, 2018 StartupGuy2

Today I’m sharing my biggest lessons from my startup activities since 2016.

These were and are true for me — some or all of them may be completely untrue for someone else:

  1. You have to learn to work under pressure, and perform well. When your back is against the wall, use the wall as a backrest.
  2. #1 startup killer — not being able to distinguish between feedback and noise.
  3. Don’t ever lose focus.
  4. You’re going to experience financial insecurity for a long period of time — you’ll get used to it eventually.
  5. Time is your most expensive resource.
  6. Easily the best advice I have ever received: You meet people whether you want to or not. You have no idea what the person in front of you knows, or how they can help you — Ask questions.
  7. The term Future is what happens up to 6–12 months ahead. Don’t worry about what comes after.
  8. Answering “I don’t know” means you’ve discovered a new question you need to explore, and that’s a wonderful thing.
  9. Grow your company naturally, as your business grows, not because other people are growing theirs.
  10. Get ready for sleepless nights filled with all-consuming thoughts and concerns. Sometimes for weeks.
  11. I found the harder you work, the less you feel you’re working.
  12. Vision != Blindness. Think big, dream high — but don’t be blind or stubborn.
  13. Successes are momentary and feel good. Failures are memorable and painful.
  14. Enjoy the journey.
  15. Acquire the art of smiling when things are really shit.
  16. Actually, smile more regardless of the situation, people have a thing for smiling.
  17. Share with people what you are doing now, what you need and where you want to be.
  18. Be prepared with your three wishes, for when you’ll meet a Genie. You will.
  19. Do yourself a favor, and teach yourself to self-promote. I know how hard it is.
  20. Conferences are for people who have time for them.
  21. Office = Home.
  22. Coffee shops are expensive, and will give you a caffeine problem.
  23. Don’t forget to invest in yourself — have hobbies and fields of interests that aren’t related to your startup or market.
  24. Luck only comes to those who try.
  25. Apathy is a gift; it’s easier if you are an apathetic person.
  26. Jeff Bezos said “Your margin is my opportunity” — Invest in growth.
  27. You don’t have to rest — you have to make sure you don’t get burned-out.
  28. You are so deep inside everything that happens with your startup. Every once in awhile stop to look at things from the outside — the bigger picture.
  29. Always know where you want your startup to be 3,6,12 months from now, and define what you need in order to get there.
  30. Measure your own work.
  31. DON’T NEGLECT YOUR GIRLFRIEND, IF YOU HAVE ONE. 😊

I’m now learning my next 31 lessons



March 16, 2018 StartupGuy0

According to Forbes, the average age of starting one’s own businesses is 29 years. However, in our country, almost every entrepreneurial venture is looked at with skepticism. Maybe it is because we don’t believe in the success of such initiatives and opt for the safer route of working for a company that is already in business? Or maybe we doubt that a youngster, with a brilliant idea and the determination to take it forward, can’t execute it properly?

But why is there such a prevalent disbelief in the entrepreneurial skills of our youth? One of the reasons can be that in our society, we don’t often share success stories. We usually ascribe success to the likes of Steve Jobs, Bill Gates or Warren Buffet, while completely overlooking the success stories around us. We don’t even know our local heroes. We never hear or read about them. We never promote them. We never teach their stories to our kids.

And even when these budding entrepreneurs are able to breakthrough, their efforts often go unnoticed. Currently, you may find the likes of Primedia, one of the largest media groups in the country, promoting some initiatives and the likes of Destiny Magazine publishing some success stories, however, majority of the success stories never get told. Telling these success stories and turning entrepreneurs into heroes will only inspire others and produce more entrepreneurs. Therefore, it is high time we realize the importance of bringing forth such stories, otherwise success will become an obscure concept, and all we will be left with is failure!

Another reason for this prevalent disbelief in our youth’s entrepreneurial abilities is the absence of breeding grounds for them, where they could test and subsequently prove their abilities. If you look at the current trend of the budding entrepreneurs, a vast majority of them come from prestigious institutions like UCT, Tuks, UJ, Wits, etc. One hardly sees a student coming from other institutions. What is it about these institutions that inculcate this entrepreneur spirit in the students? What is it about these institutions that they become the breeding grounds of the young, fearless entrepreneurs? Is it the curriculum? The faculty? The pedagogy? The environment?

Maybe it is the combination of them all. While the curriculum of these institutions maybe similar to that of others, it is the practical experience that the students get along with the theoretical knowledge that makes them different from their peers. The students are encouraged by their professors (who, by the way, are often experienced practitioners themselves) to implement the theoretical knowledge they gain in the classroom to the world around them in the form of industry-based practical projects. The entire environment is focused on encouraging the students to engage with the world around them and understand the industry trends. However, such institutions are limited; therefore not all aspiring entrepreneurs get the chance to prove their mettle and earn the support for their entrepreneurial endeavors.

As a result, in our society it is generally observed that for youngsters coming from a family of salaries professionals it is very difficult to present his/her business idea and get unconditional support from them. Therefore, if you have any entrepreneurial idea which you want to take forward, prepare yourself for a long road ahead and know that there are going to be doubters and skeptics along the way, but keep in mind that for a startup to start is a great success itself!



March 16, 2018 StartupGuy0

Entrepreneurship is suddenly the coolest thing around. Even children who once wanted to grow up to be engineers, doctors, pilots and policemen, now want to become entrepreneurs who can “revolutionize” the world with their “innovative” products and services. Students are “pivoting” on their homework assignments and “A/B testing” the sports they want to excel at.

My nine year old daughter is part of this rabble as well. Last night, we had some family friends over with their kids. About twenty minutes into their visit, I caught her pitching to the young visitors with intent to “crowd source” her ice-cream sundae. Her kisses are based on a “freemium” model and are immediately followed by an offer for a hug in exchange for me “sponsoring” the next trip to McDonald’s. I suppose that makes me her “angel investor.” And here’s the real kicker; she’s a great online marketer too and knows how to make the slightest parental intervention in her affairs the most “viral” topic of discussion in our family circle on Google Plus!

Oh, and last but not the least, her grandmother can speak “Entrepreneurese’”as well. Just this morning, I got a stern lecture on how a “paradigm shift” in parenting is “disrupting” the whole parent-child relationship (read “customer relationship management”) landscape.

Literally everyone around me, and their grandmother, appear to be walking and talking like entrepreneurs. And I don’t like that! One of the reasons is a selfish desire to ensure the continued survival of the human race. I don’t want a future where there are more hospitals and fewer doctors. I don’t want an entrepreneurial engineer A/B testing a new bridge design in production. And I certainly don’t want to fly cross-Pacific in a crowd sourced airplane.

Secondly, and more importantly, not everyone is cut out to be an entrepreneur. Some people just add more value to the world as engineers or scientist or doctors than they would if they keep having a repeated bout with entrepreneurship. At the end of the day, isn’t that what it’s all about? As much as I generally love to inspire people who have the potential to take on entrepreneurship, I have compiled below a list of the wrong reasons to be an entrepreneur. I hope it will compel some work-in- progress engineers and doctors to remain steadfast in their paths and continue to save lives and build dams and bridges.

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Please note that I don’t mean entrepreneurship in the philosophical sense here, which is usually referenced when implying that every human being is an entrepreneur, because life itself is such an uncertain entrepreneurial challenge. I am talking hardcore, capitalistic, big business entrepreneurship.

So without further ado, here are seven reasons why you will most likely not be a successful entrepreneur if the singular reason you are treading the path is because:

1. You are ‘inspired’ by Facebook’s $1 billion acquisition of Instagram (substitute your favorite insane, outlier, M&A precedent here).

Forget it. That and similar deals are not the norm. More importantly, entrepreneurship is not about getting rich, it’s about delivering substantially more value to the world than you take out of it.

2. You are a rock star programmer, engineer, marketer or whatever.

In order to be successful, you will need a rock star team. Entrepreneurial monologues usually fall on deaf ears.

3. You are inspired by your favorite entrepreneur role model in the community.

There is absolutely no correlation between your role model’s success as an entrepreneur and your ability to be one. True, community mentors can be a big help and can be used as course corrector, but you will need a lot of passion, drive, perseverance, skill and energy of your own to fuel your entrepreneurial journey.

4. You scored an ‘A’ in a course on entrepreneurship at your college or university.

The theory or practice taught at universities is either very general knowledge or very specific practice as relates to a case study of a particular venture or business problem. True, you will be better equipped to handle common pitfalls after studying the topic, but what makes or breaks a new venture are issues or opportunities that are very unique and personalized to that particular business. Your own ability to learn from the mistakes you make (and you WILL make them) will determine your fate as an entrepreneur.

5. You have had a tough childhood and you persevered to become a valuable member of your society.

Great, you are a tough cookie and a fighter, that’s all good. It’s a key ingredient of the entrepreneurial cocktail. But know that persevering and fighting to survive against all odds is different from staying the course at a business venture. In the former case, you can’t afford to quit or you will perish. In business, alongside your fighting spirit, you will need a sharp sense of judgment that can guide you when it may be more prudent to pivot or quit instead of pressing on.

6. You have either a brilliant idea and/or access to a lot of capital.

Well, that’s just great! You have overcome just one or two of the hurdles in launching a big business. All you need now is an untapped market, a stellar team, masterful execution, an ace product, right pricing, outstanding marketing, high quality partners, loyal customers, unmatched customer service and a successful exit to succeed against all odds from competitors and changing market dynamics. Piece of cake, isn’t it?

Last of all, the number one reason why you should not be an entrepreneur is if you are deterred, or even shaken, by an article like this!



March 9, 2018 StartupGuy0

Do you know why startups fail every single day around the globe?

There are several reasons like over-hyped stories everywhere, over-promising and under-delivering and various others.

Over 90% of startups disappear before they see any traction in their business and over 51% of all businesses die within a period of 5 years. And most of them don’t even make any buzz and mysteriously vanishes into thin air.

Report from CB Insights shows that over 42% of startups fail because they do not solve the real market need.

Other than that, over 29% startup fail because of lack of funding or running out of cash. Whereas over 23% startups fail due to not having the right team in their corner.

The marketing team from Presitely did an analysis on a report on the reason behind the failure of 156 startups from CB Insights and divided those reasons into 20 different categories, where in many cases startups failed for that reason. Then Presitely crafted an infographic, shared below.

Check if your business vulnerable to one of these factors or not.


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February 12, 2018 StartupGuy0

I passionately believe that for the overwhelming majority of young people, attending university is a complete waste of 3 years of their life.

Ok, this is quite a bold statement, and one which may be controversial for some. But let me tell you why I believe this, and you may well find yourself feeling the same way.

In a time of rising graduate unemployment and huge student debts, the idea of attending university simply for the purpose of obtaining a degree is fast becoming obsolete. Now I’m not saying that no one should ever go to university. That would be silly. After all, if I want to hire a lawyer to represent me, have a surgeon operate on my heart, or have an architect draw me some blueprints for a building, I would want those people to have the best degree possible in their given field.

However the vast majority of young people who go to university are not doing so because they need a degree in a technical field. They are doing so because they have been brainwashed by society to believe that they need a degree in something, anything, to be accepted and valued. I’m going to let you in on a little secret here. Almost all employers in the South Africa hire people based on their experience. Once you have gotten over the hurdle of getting your first job, your academic qualifications almost immediately become irrelevant. This is a fact. If you are good at what you do and you are good with people, you will excel.

It gets better. As an entrepreneur, YOU call the shots. As long as you have a good idea that you are passionate about, and have the confidence to put it into action, it doesn’t really matter whether you even sat your exams. Because the only ability you really need is the ability to sell your idea. To make other people believe in what you are selling and doing. Whether those people are customers, potential investors, employees, suppliers or anyone else, the only thing that you really need to be good at is bringing them on board with your idea. As your idea grows you will simply hire others to take care of all the technical stuff. This would be the case regardless of your educational background. Because as an entrepreneur it’s not your job to be a technician.

Your job is to steer the ship.



December 21, 2017 StartupGuy0

Running a startup can be extremely challenging, and founders often underestimate how much time and energy they will need to spend in raising money to make sure that they don’t run out of cash.

Most founders are well-equipped to handle the technical problems which they will have to deal with.

They are confident about their ability to craft a better product; take it to market; and improve the technology in order to stay ahead of the competition.
This is the stuff they enjoy, which is why they’re good at doing it. However, raising money is a completely different cup of tea. It’s not something which they’ve done before and it’s often not something which they ever get good at doing.

The problem is that you are advised to raise only enough money to last you for about 18 months because you don’t want to dilute yourself too much and hand out too much of your precious equity to investors.

This means that you need to go back to the market every 18 months or so, in order to look for more money. If we assume that a startup is going to take about 8 years or so to reach maturity, this means you have to go out with a begging bowl about 4 or 5 times, until your startup starts generating enough money to be able to run on its own.
You also need to remember that raising money is expensive – both on a short-term basis, as well as on a long perspective. Thus, it consumes time and energy, and you have to travel in order to pitch to investors – many of whom will take perverse pride in yanking your chain.

This is a time you can’t really afford because it distracts you from your core business of running a company which will create a product which will delight customers. On a long-term basis, by giving away a share in your company, you are diluting yourself, and this can affect your ability to control its destiny

You may feel that once you’ve raised money the first time, it’s going to become easier the second time, but unfortunately, this is not true. It can actually become more complicated, because you now have existing investors whom you need to pacify, and they may not agree either with you, or with your new investors.

These differences of opinion can complicate matters considerably! Thus, your original angels may not get along well with your series A investors; who may not see eye to eye with your series B investors, as regards valuation and liquidation preferences.

You can read about these well-publicised conflicts in the press, who describe the sticky issues which larger startups have to deal with when they need to raise Series C rounds. The problems which plague early-stage companies are very similar ( but not as well publicised) because they involve fewer zeroes – and smaller egos !

The good news is that once you’ve raised a seed round, you at least have a working familiarity with some of the terms which investors use , and you understand how to read a term sheet. You are better equipped to negotiate, because you’ve done it once.

However, it’s not something you can take for granted, because each negotiation involves dealing with a new set of investors , some of whom will have an idiosyncratic worldview and very different expectations. It’s very hard to keep so many people happy all the time, especially when their interests are not aligned.

This can get really stressful, especially when you find that you are running out of money, and need to raise a bridge round at very short notice.

The fear is that if you don’t raise money quickly enough , your company will fold, and all the years of effort which you have put in will go down the drain. You may be desperate for a cash infusion, and investors can sense this and will take advantage of it.

This is why it’s so important to start preparing for your next fundraise well in advance – as we all know, the best time to raise money is when you don’t need it !

Finally, never forget, that the best source of funding are your customers, and therefore you should focus on reaching cashflow profitability as soon as you can.