20 Dec 2016
Are you ready to get into your own start-up?
We live in an age where opportunity is what you make of it. As corny as it sounds, an Instagram account and a dream can genuinely be the basis for an actionable grand plan. From Black Milk Clothing to some of the world’s most renowned bloggers, it all started with a simple premise and a social media setup.
This is what many are calling the start-up age – an era in which all feasible new ideas are being heard, crafted and launched. As we stated in our post “Winning in the New Creative Industries”, more Australians than ever are thinking creatively about their futures, unleashing entirely new products or redefining the old as per market demand. Key reports are already heralding a seismic shift in the small business space thanks largely to the boom in innovative new ventures.
Confused? Let’s break it down.
What exactly is a startup?
Experts have attempted to define the ‘start-up’ for a few years now- an effort that resulted in a small army of business experts bandying about one too many buzzwords. Thankfully, one local expert in the field of business has zeroed in on a reliable definition.
David Jackson of investor group Sydney Angels says, “the start-up itself is typically the brainchild of two co-founders, one who is a tech expert, and the other with skills in sales and marketing, and its success usually relies on their ability to attain large-scale funding early on.” In other words, it’s the new era term for a ‘unique’ new business, with a particular focus on the ‘new’ and the ‘innovative’, attracting or relying upon external funding rather than self-funding.
It should be noted that, generally, most investors and business pundits associated technology (apps primarily) with start-up enterprises (e.g. Airbnb).
What does it take to be a start up?
First and foremost, you need that all-important start point – the idea.
Go back to Marketing 101, where you see a need and fill it. The catch is that, whether you are filling a new need or a classic one, you need to so in a way that is ‘new’, ‘innovative’ or simply distinctly ‘different’. Again, this tends to go back to that technology point of solving a problem in a new way.
This is where the approach of having a creative brain paired with a business-minded person pays off. Between a dreamer and schemer, you might very well be able to piece together an actionable concept that could disrupt markets near and far. And while there are many steps in between, a solid idea from a confident team is often the key to accessing the private and public sector grants now being targeted at innovative start ups.
If you’re keen for a thorough run through, StartupAus offers a range of resources and guidance on planning for and launching a start up in the Australian market.
Wait, what do you mean by disrupt?
According to our old friend the Dictionary, to disrupt is; “to destroy, usually temporarily, the normal continuance or unity of.” This is where Uber (including Eats, X and so on) comes together with your Airbnb, Tesla and others under a single umbrella.
Uber carved out their fair share of the $1.1 Billion AUD personal transport market because they zeroed in what did and didn’t work in that space, and then sought to deliver a new service mapped to the consumer. In other words, disruptors are those start ups who due to their business model, service offering or ethos actively challenge the long held dynamics of an industry. As stated by Wired, the disruption ethos acts as a rallying cry for innovation and invention.
Rewinding back, this is what Apple (once a rebellious start up itself) meant when they said:
Here’s to the crazy ones.
The round pegs in the square holes.
The ones who see things differently.
They’re not fond of rules.
And they have no respect for the status quo.
You can quote them, disagree with them,
glorify or vilify them.
About the only thing you can’t do is ignore them.
Because they change things.
They push the human race forward.
While some may see them as the crazy ones,
we see genius.
Because the people who are crazy enough to think
they can change the world, are the ones who do.
Do I Need to be a tech genius then?
Mitel tells us that those who deliver a consistent and engaging customer experience are still in high demand. This can mean that, good, old-fashioned service devoid of digital touches can win you business and long-term loyalty. Or you can think of it this way – the most disruptive business ideas can go against the ‘innovation grain’.
Do I need to be a creative type?
Once again, no.
You could be a business type, you could be a coder, you could be a teacher. What matters is your idea and who you choose to work with. Tracking back to David Jackson, start ups involve more than one person. Build the team you need and you can make anything happen.
Which industries can I do this in?
If you have the idea to match an industry, no matter how niche, take a crack. It doesn’t matter if you are working in hospitality and studying business or you’re halfway through a bakery apprenticeship, your current skills and background are no limitation.
If you feel you need the business skills to match any partner in action, you can learn them. If you think that maybe you need a better understanding of the industry you are looking to change, there are surely relevant courses and guides out there.
How do I get the money to do it?
Between the private sector tapping into new ideas, the government looking to actively fund innovation, and the number of crowdfunding platforms out there, you can gain added capital without killing all your savings or relying on bank loans.
Since its inception, Kickstarter has amassed $USD 2,699,095,344 for over 114, 385 successful projects. Platforms such as this have been used by new business ventures and existing businesses to gain the necessary capital to launch into new sectors or entirely change how they service the masses.
The trick here is one of those steps we inched our way around earlier, pitching your idea. Thankfully, the excellent experts over at Forbes have pieced together a great guide to pitching start ups.
Be a start up
To paraphrase Journey, if you have an idea, a passion or an inkling of something possible don’t stop believing. If you plan it out and put in your all, it will happen; maybe not overnight, but in time.