Startup Startup Startup. It seems to be the only exciting business model we the DIY guys have going in this day and era. Warrentingly, perhaps, for entrepreneurs with a good deal of creativity and applicable ideas for technological breakthroughs means a greater coefficient for a successful new business. First of all, let’s take a look at what exactly this Startup business is about. The term Startup originated in Silicon Valley, California, USA, where leading IT companies and numerous entrepreneurs such as Facebook and Instagram neighbor.
Two types of Startups by scale:
1. Venture Capital (VC) – medium scale, higher investment (3-5 year period): joint ventures, business partners and limited companies in consulting and various industries
2. Angel Investor – household scale, lower investment (1 year period): corner stores, restaurants, service providers, business owners-investors (personal means)
A Startup company (startup or start-up) is an entrepreneurial project for profit typically embracing a newly emerged business concept, market niche and/or a technological advantage that established operations cannot beat the chase quick enough. Per The Entrepreneur, “Startups are experiments in search of a repeatable and scalable business model; this approach has more in common with science than a boardroom”. Thus, the development is designed to invest as prudently as possible in necessities required to advance the business. Since there is no hindrance from legacy systems while the owner, with or without the fewest partners possible, runs the entire operation from acquiring resources to build, market and sales and distribution, single-handedly; things move along as one synchronized unit and flexible in readjusting key operations to adapt. The operation usually advances smoothly in the early stage, given a plausible size of demand for a quality supply. Why are Startups booming? Plain and simple – the early development stage Internet of Things (IoT), particularly logistics. In half flinging form, the IoT gives a Startup the following powers:
- Cheap clean energy to produce, service and run the business: Solar, wind, fuel cell, natural gas and hybrid powertrains
- Free platforms to acquire knowledge and economical channels to communicate and run marketing and sales operations as well as customer service in real time: Google, Gmail, Facebook, YouTube, as well as local 4G and WiFi providers.
- Economical logistics to obtain resources, store and deliver products: SCG-L, Amazon.com, etc.
- The new sharing economy: cheap platforms to rent out owned goods and services: Uber, Grab Taxi, Airbnb, Craigslist, etc.
Such powers were not free nor cheap previous to the IoT era (up to early 21st century), particularly in the areas of transporting goods, and available for large corporations with economies of scale to enjoy, only. According to the professor of the Third Industrial Evolution, IoT is pretty much the optimization and amalgamation of the communication, energy and logistics grid, and thus, the emergence of Prosumers that get involved in the production process of the very product they ultimately consume. It is so effective that the only corporations left standing by late 21st century will be the ones with vast and lucrative business systems small timers simply cannot afford. For now, an entrepreneur with a creative hunch for business pedigrees looking for ways to build an enterprise of its own can start with the following ten soul searching queries to gage potential probabilities and variables:
1. Perfect the idea: To create a competitive business, ask yourself, what separates your producer service from competitors? If it doesn’t, then how can it be?
2. Step 2: Enter the “mind” and make sure it is really what you want. The good old saying “you better like what you wish for” because if it comes true and you don’t like it – you’ll be stuck with it for a while.
3. Step 3: Assess competitors and substitutes. Even when there are a hand full of supplier of the same commodity, a lot of businesses will still work with large enough ‘walking distance’ difference, e.g., McDonalds and 7/11 that comes up virtually every other block down the road. Be sure to evaluate competitors from the ‘same neighborhood’ perspective, as well, particularly if you are in for consumer goods.
4. Step 4: Design a clear business plan with designated target markets and concluded analysis and sales strategies. According to businessdictionary.com, a strategic plan is “a systematic process of envisioning a desired future, and translating this vision into broadly defined goals or objectives and a sequence of steps to achieve them”. Do you have one? If not, it’s virtually impossible to be successful.
5. Step 5: Finances. Make sure the business plan has a clear mission statement (objective), answers key questions for investors and has large enough target markets to yield satisfactory Return On Investment (ROI) for stake holders.
6. Step 6: Create a good brand accordingly to the target market. Tell the customers out there why exactly it is that you deserve their attention. How are you making their life easier. Point out what is not working, if necessary, or, simply share your passion “I’m doing this because I’m good at what I do”.
7. Invade the matrix: Be sure to have a presence in the digital world. Customers need to be able to find you through search engines and go to your website, easily, with clear and user friendly navigatable pages and information. Make sure to make their purchasing process as simple as possible with information ready to be provided digitally upon request. Keep customers updated with real time promotions, campaigns and events through the social media. All in all, your brand logo must be easily identifiable and easy to remember. If they don’t remember the name they won’t know what to search for when that time comes to conduct business with you. Most likely, your competitors will retain the customer on your behalf.
8. Establish Cut-Loss Positions: Identify the point under breaking even to where you think it doesn’t make sense to continue with the same strategy or product in the same way.
9. Implement: When you finalize a strategy, stick with it until you reach the Cut-Loss point. If you fail, you failed trying with a well crafted plan. Learn the lessons what made it not work and incorporate them into the new strategy. A smart startup (now billionaire) once said: “I didn’t fail a hundred times, I found out a hundred way that didn’t work”. And with that kind of knowledge the business owner sure enough proceeded to find one that worked out eventually. The way to gain invaluable insight is not to perfect the plan before hand but to let the chips fall where they may, with in your affordable period. The fact is – you never know how customers are going to respond. Give it your all to research the market, and give it a go.
10. The final step: Predetermine plans and objectives that need continual development. Encourage your team and strategic partners with seeds of success. When you pat someone on the back, look them in the eye and tell them “you did well mate, you really did. I see great things happening for our cause”, you’re not just complimenting the person, you’re planting a seed with the person that will allow them to blossom with the success of the company. With that, kick up your heels, and celebrate success.
SMEs and Startups face the same problem: a lack of capacity and funds to build and improve logistics infrastructure, they be the warehouse (location and process management), transporting vehicles as well as labor. Thus; the business niche creates the opportunity for logistics services that lead to a new business model, the Online Marketplace. The virtual platform to trade products from different manufacturers through the online store, i.e., the website and mobile application, allows logistics providers to handle what they do best at minimal marginal costs. When buyers purchase products and services from the Online Marketplace, the provider takes care of the rest; from submitting the order with the manufacturer of choice and ships the goods from and to the end customer, in a one-stop-shop manner. This allows the logistics provider to act as both the platform for online transaction and as a Fulfillment Center that includes inventory management and distribution processies for all manufacturers that signed up for the optimized infrastructure. This enables producers to focus on Core Business processes; to produce the goods without having to worry about managing warehouses, space and inventory. Ultimately, this setup can save the manufacturers from all the non-Core costs while significantly reducing overall expenses related to hardware and the workforce to handle it.On the other hand, carrying out a successful business comes partly from good Supply Chain management, also; an efficient and effective upstream to downstream flow of resources. Logistics providers initially operated on Business to Business (B2B) principles, solely. However, later on with the rise of startups and SMEs and increasing tendencies, business models such as Business to Customer (B2C) and Customer to Customer (C2C) increased dramatically.
The number of Online Marketplace operators has been expanding rapidly in the form of either sole platform providers such as Lazada, Zalora and Rakuten with third party business partners providing logistics services, or, in the form of both the Online Marketplace platform host and the logistics provider with its own transportation fleet.
With the aforementioned services available to handle your logistics, although Startup businesses remains a steep road to climb, it shouldn’t be too difficult for an entrepreneur with a staunch abling mind to forge a viable business concept and get a business going. Never neglect devoting the hours required to form a concrete and thorough business model. Whether you decide to use the Online Marketplace and take on logistics work yourself or outsource management to a well-equipped third party to handle it for you is entirely up to you – but make sure you understand which option is better than the other, and why. Ultimately, make sure your Startup model embraces the business infrastructure that optimizes your trading platform: one that minimizes your non-Core costs, maximizes your digital exposure along with purchasing and logistics convenience, explodes your competitiveness in the dominating global retail platform of the early 21st century – the Online Marketplace, and therefore, leapfrog your business ahead of competitors.
References and photos: advice.co.th, designil.com, entrepreneur.com, pixabay.com (account : Startup)
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