If you have a startup dream and readiness, nothing should stop you from moving ahead, not even a pandemic. It may not appear like the best time to move ahead with your entrepreneurial dreams, but you can still go ahead.
Not surprisingly, many entrepreneurs are launching their ventures even during these challenging times. While there is nothing wrong with doing so, you must take the right approach to stay ahead of the challenges.
The situation is tricky, and good preparation can help you curb the risk of failure and build a successful business. Startup consultants believe that the current situation has unique challenges and opportunities, so you need to think differently.
It is vital to have a good understanding of the current startup landscape, scenario, and insights into the future before you start. They will help you to sustain today and be ready for the future. Here are some things you should know before exploring the startup landscape in 2021.
1. Follow a strategy right from the start
Things get exciting when you take the first step towards your entrepreneurial goals. But you shouldn’t let enthusiasm drive your decisions because a haphazard approach elevates the risk of failure.
Have a strategy right from the start and follow it through. Consider the circumstances prevailing in the new normal to develop a viable startup plan. Follow the generic rules of setting up a new business as well.
Balancing the two aspects can get tricky, but research gives you the right start. You can also seek expert advice to ensure that your business follows the right track.
Even as you have a strategic plan for your business, remember that disruptions lurk around every corner. So you must be well-prepared with plans B and C to handle every situation.
2. Have a clear view of consumer pain points
On the surface, launching a startup sounds simple. You need to create a business plan and get investors to fund the idea. But things are very different when you scratch beyond the surface.
The whole idea of starting a successful company revolves around finding your target audience and uncovering their needs. Right now, it is more about having a clear view of consumer pain points and providing viable solutions for them.
Expect success in a crisis only if you have a worthy solution to match the current demands. If you don’t have it, you are probably not in the right space to launch into the startup landscape.
3. Be proactive with outreach
Knowing the consumer pain points gives you a good start. But it is only half the work done. The pandemic has driven a massive behavioral change among the consumers, and things will keep evolving ahead.
The needs, wants, tastes, and spending habits are likely to be more dynamic than ever. The only way for startups to thrive is to stay one step ahead of them. You need to be proactive with customer outreach to keep track of trends and tweak your products and services accordingly.
A proactive outreach strategy can also take you a step ahead with your marketing plans. Digital marketing and social media platforms are the best channels to stay connected with the audience. You can assess their pulse and target them with subtle marketing tactics on these channels.
4. Invest in funding know-how
Money is the fuel for startups, and it becomes even more important in a crisis. You need to be extra conscious about funding right from the launch stage.
Brushing up your knowledge on where to get startup funding gives you a good start. Even better, you can choose a low-investment business idea to get started. Explore the various funding options to get your business off the mark. Bootstrapping is a good idea, at least initially, as it lets you start slow and without debt and interest burdens.
You will need external funding to keep the business flowing during a crisis, but make sure you choose your options wisely. Being frugal with money is vital as it will reduce your needs for external investment for now.
5. Cut unnecessary expenses
Wise money management is the mainstay of startup survival, and it becomes even more crucial right. As a rule, you must run your business with a minimalist approach and cut as much cost as possible.
Spend only on bare necessities, and limit spending to the right extent. But make sure you do not compromise on essentials such as procuring inventory, setting up the basic infrastructure, and building a strong team.
It makes sense to invest time and effort in detailed budgets. They help you distinguish needs and wants, which make it easier to identify cost-saving opportunities for your business.
6. Prioritize empathy in your startup landscape
When you get into business, profit is the driving factor that motivates you. But the startup landscape is different in 2021, and you need to align your mindset accordingly.
At this stage, empathy is as important as money. Don’t set your foot into the industry with just money-making goals. An empathic approach that focuses on serving the customers is the key to building a sustainable startup. It will help you acquire customers today and retain them for the long run.
Buyers are more likely to trust brands that go the extra mile to help them. Think of ways to balance profitability with empathy for now, and you can achieve growth in the long run.
7. Focus on agility and innovation
Entering the startup landscape in 2021 requires a lot more than business acumen and market understanding.
The startup landscape is very different from the way it was in the pre-pandemic times. You never know what challenges lie ahead, and the only way to survive, sustain and thrive in the new normal is by keeping pace with them.
You need to focus on agility and innovation to keep your new business on track. For example, organizations had to make some quick switches to stay afloat when the pandemic first struck. Remote working became a norm, while retailers had to move to the e-commerce model.
As a startup, you must be open to change and adapt with agility.
8. Create a roadmap to scale
Successful startups are built with scalability in mind. The rule applies even as you set up amid a challenging phase like this one.
As an entrepreneur, you must create a roadmap to scale your startup over time. For example, you may start a restaurant business with a cloud kitchen today to keep the cash flowing. At the same time, you must have a plan to switch to the in-dining model once things get back to usual.
Similarly, you need not wait for offices to open to set up your finance company. Hire resources and start operating remotely, but have an actionable plan to set up physically once the pandemic recedes.
Launching into the startup landscape in 2021 seems like a tough decision, but you can have a good start. You only need to think wisely and take the right steps.
Customer-centricity, frugality, and agility can keep you on the right track. At the same time, you must focus on empathy and value creation to become a human-centric organization.
Right now, you need to emphasize long-term relationships more than profit margins. Take the opportunity to build a loyal customer base today, and profits will grow once things take a turn for the better.
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I am Adeyemi Adetilewa, a media consultant, entrepreneur, husband, and father. Founder and Editor-In-Chief of Ideas Plus Business Magazine, online business resources for entrepreneurs. I help brands share unique and impactful stories through the use of public relations, advertising, and online marketing. My work has been featured on the Huffington Post, Thrive Global, Addicted2Success, Hackernoon, The Good Men Project, and other publications.