On Management

The Startup Beast

The Startup Beast by Sushrut Munje | Frankaffe
Pic Courtesy: Keoni Cabral

Few ideas see the light of the day, and fewer survive to make profits. Behind every founder’s bright grin is years of toil, focus and sheer grit. They have persevered without immediate financial returns, worked hard even when their teams almost lost heart and have stayed focused despite major setbacks. These are beasts who stay doggedly on the path they have chosen.

What makes a beast? Priorities.

At the core, founders have it sorted. Peel away the layers of happiness, cockiness and occasional scorn – you’ll find frank frugality. This honest person inside is on one straight path, willing to go through or jump on hurdles if they arise. Their objectives are clear – if you know the peak, you can find a way up the mountain. Founders are mountaineers – they carry the necessary equipment and materials in their backpacks – and let go of the non essentials. This no-frill, no-nonsense approach helps them experiment and make quick decisions. Their health is paramount – and nutrition (cash, team competencies, networking) is always prioritized. Detachment is evident, founders do not hesitate to let go of liabilities and failed plans. Time is too precious to spend on personal biases. Founders are focused – the grapevine, the detractors and critics fail to deter them – their hardwired optimism continues to see the good in every single thing. These brilliant beasts convert every adversity into an opportunity to learn new things, and leverage them to succeed.

Beasts with a gentle heart.

Founders are emotional people, highly creative with a strong EQ. They have a gift of being able to rally people to the cause they have chosen, and to get people to believe in the common good, in the common victory. Their teams do not work for money, but for shared glory – the sheer fulfillment of the dream they set out to build. Founders are good listeners, they are accessible and do not hesitate to go out fighting to the front. Their sleeves are rolled up, eyes are keen to spot inconsistencies and ears ever ready for constructive feedback. They understand that people build organizations – not individuals, not technology, and not money. They help their teams to be better, offer them ladders and opportunities to grow.

How to implement this poetry?

The glorification of entrepreneurs have made it very easy for us to have vivid descriptions about how amazing these people are. Self-declared commoners often cheer these ‘rockstars’ on, yet fall back on showing the same commitment to their own enterprise. Little do they know that achieving this ‘beast’ status pays off in the simplest of manners – you simply have to put your head down and work.

  • If you have an idea – validate it, try it out, ensure that it makes commercial sense. Show it to people, talk about it, get expert advice, run a reality check and lastly – listen to your gut.

  • If you are on an execution runway, toss your ego aside. Sell it to your friends and family, they can be your strongest critics. If you have them won over, sell it to strangers, they can be brutally honest with you. Do not ignore feedback, assimilate it, implement it.

  • Build a team that is smarter than you. Be the ‘everything’ girl, you do not have to get into specifics, for you might be the glue that holds everything together at the start. Get people for specific roles, ensure they are in line with company’s goals. Offer them a playground, and freedom to experiment, to make mistakes. Once you have a team, build a machine that runs on its own – because you do not want it to wind up if you get hit by a truck.

  • Always make sure, right from the start, that your accounts are in order and compliances are taken care of. Have a competent CA and a lawyer on board to advise you at every turn. The money you spend on them is worth every single rupee. Be (forgive me) anal about your cash flow – you do not need to make losses from day 1 – and even if you do, have a clear break-even plan so your business makes sense.

The Hulk Smash

Interestingly enough, starting up doesn’t need a eureka moment in an inspirational setting – but keen observation to spot a non-obvious gap in the existing market, and pure ingenuity to figure out a solution. You might be creating something that has never been thought of before – or a better form of something that already exists. Both is perfectly cool. And frankly – you do not even need to be an entrepreneur to rock at your stuff – this world needs even more intrapreneurs than they need business people. You can use the above principles to excel at your job, and create wonders for ‘your’ enterprise :)

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