Jack jumps out from his box and shouts out loud ‘I don’t want to live in here anymore, I want to build my own Big Box’. Jack thought he didn’t want to be just another Jack who lived in someone else’s box – he wanted to be different. He had the passion and he thought in his mind, “What more does one need to build his own big box, besides the passion to build one”. So, when he jumped out of the old box he felt free, he felt excited, he knew he could now build a box of any size he wanted. And to no one’s surprise he chose BIG and set out to make the biggest box that anyone could think about. But there was one problem, Jack had never built a box before – he had only lived in it!
We see many startups making the same mistake as Jack –to start making the biggest box even before understanding how to make a box. There are certain key things that entrepreneurs miss out in the excitement of embarking in their journey. I have come across some such typical problems after interacting with few startups and going through their business plans while running my startup incubation & consultancy firm: Gemini New Media Ventures . I thought would be useful if I shared them, for all the Jacks who are thinking about jumping out of their respective boxes:
1. It’s not always important to build the biggest box immediately: I have come across many business plans that aim at making the next big thing by capturing the entire market within 6 months.
I think it is important to prove your concept microscopically before you grow. Test it out by getting 10 customers from your area before you even think about expanding it to the city. Big isn’t always powerful – small is sometimes more sensible. Hence, it is not always important to build the biggest box straight up, but something that grows and becomes big.
2. Is there a need for this box in the first place?: Many entrepreneurs usually miss out on this key question: What is the need gap the product or service is solving? This I feel is the single most important answer that any business plan – needs to answer.
3. Marketing can make your box look big, but it still might be empty: Most startups give more importance to marketing their product than making their product more robust. Maybe that’s why we see marketing spends for user acquisition by start-ups over powering user acquisition through product excellence.
4. Initially bootstrapping your box might make sense: If you are at a stage where you just have a prototype ready or in the making, then investor money for building your box may not always be the right thing to do. Investors aren’t doing charity while investing in your dream – they need exit. It is important to answer: What is the ROI the investor can make after the business has achieved all that it had set out to?
5. Living in a box may be tough but building your own box is tougher!: Many entrepreneurs realize this sooner than later in their journey that maybe working in a job was better than doing your own thing. Because building your own business takes a lot out of you. And that’s when the burn out happens and founders sway away from their focus. I have talked about challenges of entrepreneurship in my previous article Rethi, Cement & Dotcom
We see many Jacks every day jumping out of their old box, some make their own box while some are still trying. But there is one thing in common between all these Jacks that they are all driven to make their dream into a reality. With current market scenario getting more challenging for every new box on the block, I hope the above few thoughts will help all the budding entrepreneurs in moving towards their dreams in a more realistic way & that is what we are trying to do at our integrated module based program for startups. Because nothing is more beautiful & successful than having something you have build on your own.
(Deep Malhotra is Managing Partner Gemini New Media Ventures, Co-Founder Gemideals.com.)
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