While every startup is different, setting the right foundations is key to ensuring longevity and success.
I recently sat down with a range of startups, customers and our App partners who told us the first year of business can be everything from ‘lonely’, ‘confronting’, ‘intense’ and ‘hard’, to ‘exciting’, ‘rewarding’ and ‘thrilling’.
Using the knowledge gained from our own experience as a 30 year old startup and insights from these local insiders, we wanted to provide some tips for the more than half a million Aussies involved in early-stage entrepreneurial activity at any point in time.
So, here goes:
1. Start a business to solve a problem.
Before committing to your dream, it’s important to know your business has a sound reason for being that is, it exists to solve a problem.
Further to this, you need to thoroughly understand the problem you would like to solve. Once you have solidified this, you should only move forward if you are truly committed to making your business the one to solve it correctly.
2. Embrace the cloud.
Cloud technology has delivered on its promise of affordable, efficient IT infrastructure for all meaning you don’t have to be a huge enterprise to have sophisticated technologies that allow you to streamline your operations.
For example, using cloud accounting software will not only save you time through automation and reduced data entry, but also enable you to spot trends in growth numbers, predict cash flow and identify the best customers. Working in the cloud can also help boost productivity as it allows you to access your data anytime, anywhere meaning you can get things done on the move.
Today, there are also range of other cloud-based Apps that can help with everything from digitally capturing receipts to sending invoice payment reminders, creating amazing business reports and helping manage inventory and staff. And many integrate with cloud accounting offerings which means less time spent on administrative tasks, and more on growing your business.
3. Take your idea to market early and test, test, test.
One of Intuit’s key innovation tactics is rapid experimentation and taking ideas to customers early before investing too much energy on something that may not work. This approach is something Australian startups are embracing, with a consistent piece of advice from those who are already established being to “launch earlier for more feedback.”
Test your ideas with a potential client, ask for feedback, and observe interaction with your product you’ll find out what works and what doesn’t, then you need to adapt your approach until you nail it.
4. Build meaningful relationships and find the right talent.
We live in a digital age where the majority of our communication is done over emails. But taking the time to collaborate face-to-face and build great partnerships, or even simply making a follow up call are two key pieces of advice from those who note the importance of investing in relationships when you’re starting out.
As we recently discussed at the launch of Startup Weekend Australia on a panel which included a number of startups and Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister for Communications Paul Fletcher, finding the right talent to support your startup’s growth is a big challenge but it is crucial. You need to find the people who will support your vision and represent your company across technical, creative and commercial skills.
In startup environments, there is also the chance things will go wrong. So it’s essential to have optimistic problem solvers on board who are not only going to contribute great technical skills, but remain focused, creative and motivated when the company is faced with a setback.
5. Take advantage of the research and development tax incentive.
The federal government’s R&D tax incentive provides a tax offset for eligible R&D activities in Australia. It’s a vital source of funding for many startups and as one Intuit App partner noted, “R&D grants have helped enormously any help you can get when starting out is a win!” You can find out if you’re eligible at business.gov.au.