Key Skill Set & Tips Required for a First Time Entrepreneur

By Prashanth Nagarajan, Co-Founder, Qtrove

Prashanth Nagarajan, Co-Founder, Qtrove

Headquartered in Bengaluru, Qtrove aspire to promote local vendors & talent who produce some amazing products but are still waiting to be discovered beyond their immediate vicinity by providing them the unique platform for showcasing unique products.

The year was 2005. It was an immense source of pride to declare that your child was working for an IT company. More so if you were trying to find a marriage alliance for them. The only reason I hadn’t gotten on board the IT wagon was because my family ran a non-IT related business and I decided to continue my grandfather’s legacy. Nowadays however, the real pride lies in telling people that your kid is working on some abstract idea to change the world. And if his/her idea has gotten funded – there is as much happiness as there used to be in getting an F1 visa! The mind-set of the Indian youth has definitely shifted from having a cushy IT job to doing something on his own. But does this new age entrepreneur know enough to sustain and prosper his company? Does just wanting to be an entrepreneur and having the passion to make it big formulate the recipe for success? Here are ten essentials hacks that every entrepreneur must have/do at the very least.

1.    Know your stuff: While it is great to be inspired by Steve & Bill, do remember that they are part of a very exclusive club that knew what they were doing. In today’s fast paced and competitive world, you have to know the bare bones of what you are hoping to accomplish. And love it to death. This will see you through times of self-loathing and doubt. And when you try to pivot from your original plan.

2.    Look for the right Co-Founders:  Best friends may not always be your best bet when you start up. It is also not easy to trust your valued idea with someone completely new. But it is highly recommended that you do have a co-founder. It always helps to bounce ideas off one another and to divide responsibilities in the company. The key to finding a good co-founder is to get someone that has a complementary set of skills from yours. If you are a sales and marketing kind of guy, find someone that is strong in tech and operations. A cofounder with complementary temperament will also auger well for the company. And remember – it is perfectly fine to disagree and argue with your cofounder! 

3.    Look up your competitors: Everyone conceives an idea believing it to be the next Uber. While it is good to believe in your product, it is also prudent to be aware of what is already out there. Quiet often, there may already exist an idea that is very similar to your own, if not the exact same. While this does not necessarily put a spoke in your plans of world domination, it is definitely humbling and will help you carve out your key differentiators. Google alerts will also help you keep track of updates about your competition. 

4.    Learn to swim before jumping in the deep end: If you are part of the 99% like I am, then it definitely helps to get some management experience under your belt before you launch your own company. No MBA can prepare you for business like work experience can. Being part of a team of coders at an IT company is not what I mean. You need to be making business decisions. There is an unparalleled set of decision making skills that you acquire from working in a management position.

5.    Elevator pitch perfected: While funding should not be the only reason you start a business, you must still always be prepared with the 120 second version of your business, also referred to as an ‘elevator pitch’. If you were to be in an elevator with Ratan Tata and he were to ask you what your business is about, this would be that pitch. 

6.    Company first, Ego last: Leadership isn’t just about leading from the front. At times it also means to step back and let your team move forward. A good leader will always keep the company’s best interests in mind and not let factors like ego and attitude get in the way of what’s right for the business.

7.    Get tech savvy and fast: Agreed. Not everyone is strong in tech. But it still pays to be aware of the latest that is happening in the world of cutting edge technology. At least enough to be able to express what you have in mind to your strong tech team. And yes you need to know Excel real well.

8.    Company ethos:  Making money comes second. Establishing certain basic business ethics and standing by it always trumps making money. No underhand dealings. Maintaining clean books. And not ripping off your vendors or customers. Fairly simple to follow.

9.    Is there a need? This is one of the hardest questions to answer truthfully. After dreaming about the millions you are going to be making, it might be hard to accept that your idea is utopian and no one would really care much for it. Would you rather discard your idea right away? Or have an investor shred you to bits for having wasted a year of your life trying to prove E.T. exists?    
 
10.    Be cheap in a good way: Irrespective of whether you are inherently rich or have been seed funded, learn to be extremely careful when it comes to spending money. There is always a more cost effective way to get the same thing done. Know how much eBay raised in their early days? $6 million. Know how much of this they spent? Zero.

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