From managing day-to-day operations to dealing with backend work, directing your own start-up can be stressful. So, it's no wonder that we sometimes struggle to stick to our overall desired goals and aspirations. What are the things you can do now to ensure long term sustainability and success for your business?
Yielding over 15 years of experience in Asset Management and venture related advisory work, we sit down with Patrick Yeo, Partner at PricewaterhouseCoopers LLP Singapore and leader of PwC’s Venture Hub practice.
Patrick readily shares his tips and insights with our readers; leveraging on his past experience working with various start-ups and building a sound go-to market strategy. He has seen his fair share of fundraising and underlines the importance of maintaining an ideal network and profile.
The Common Mistakes
What are two common mistakes start-ups make?
1) Failure to pay attention to details during execution proves detrimental in the long run. As with anything else, how well the execution of an implementation process is done, makes or breaks the start-up. Naturally, if one were to focus on the broader picture for too long and too much, they would miss out on what needs to be done to reach that stage. It is all about paying attention to creating and finding details.
2) Start-ups should not (and cannot) assume that they should be sourcing for financial aid only when it is absolutely necessary. Rome was not built in a day – and this definitely applies to start-ups as well. Having a financial buffer gives you the chance to test out a hunch, revisit failed ones, or pivot if necessary. The continuous search for financial support should always remain on every start-up’s to-do list. You should be looking for funds 12 to 18 months in advance and not on a day to day basis.
How to Resolve Them
After recognising these potential mistakes, the next step would be to resolve them.
The best way in doing so – filling your start-up with your A team. Before diving into the execution process, you should be seeking out the right talent and partners you deem fit for your company.
Look into how potential partners would help you, whether they know the market you're trying to break into or have a complimentary user base. Merely having a grand idea is of no use if you have no idea how to commercialise it, or how to put your product into your customers hands. That's why it's important to partner up with the right people to help you execute and implement your product. It is the small details that play into making your product successful.
Aiming for Long-term Success
In order to be successful in the long run, you will require a robust business plan to detail the key milestones. You also need to track your progress religiously, and employ people to help you; you cannot be doing everything yourself. Delegate certain rules and responsibilities so that as a team you can execute it properly.
The best business plans are the ones which are well-planned; while they may not necessarily be the best ideas, they are successful in their implementation. These businesses find strategic partners that help commercialise and broaden their markets, and possibly even aid in better prospects for you to enter overseas as well.
Additionally, you should create a powerful ecosystem. Network across different markets, find out their unique demands or traits in order to better scope and define your ideas. Your products need to be scalable as well, and you can do so by looking at the broader market and by speaking to or connecting with people. Only by discussion of different ideas can see the bigger picture, pivot if necessary, and move forward.
The Influence of Venture Capitalists and Strategic Investors
Venture capitalists and strategic investors have a huge influence on the way startups think and execute their products. It is important to pay heed to their advice, as they enjoy increased access to other markets and connections, as well as having seen a lot of startups across various markets and sectors. Having these insights are beneficial as you don't want to be blind-sided. Broaden your horizons, engage and think of other alternatives together with this pool of talent you have.
Partnership and the Kinds of Partners
Partnership is crucial to the success of startups, so it's best you look at the existing players in your industry and in various sectors within that industry. Even though you are disrupting the industry, they have the relevant contacts, and collaborating with them will be beneficial to your startup, be it through refining your product or establishing new connections.
While having partners is important, your start-up can afford to focus on some types of partners in its later stage. But at the end of the day, it depends on how you define partners.
Active Partner: This type of partners are vital in sustaining your business. They would have various forms of input into your startup, be it their skill set, innovation, all sorts of value-add to your business.
Sleeping Partner: This type of partners only contributes capital. While you do need this, it might be better to have active partners.
All in all, the type of partnership you should have depends on the stage you are at, the skill set they have, and what kind of value-add can that partner bring to the table that you require.
At the end of the day, you need to focus on product development, and refining the details, rather than just constantly viewing the bigger picture. You need to be able to identify and penetrate the markets you want to enter, and can do so by getting partnerships strategically, ensuring a sufficient cash flow, and detailing your plans for the long term.
Watch the entire Arcadier Inspire Summit talk by Patrick Yeo here