This week there was the last Steering Committee of the Fit4Start Programme Edition 8 in Luxembourg where startups can receive up to €150,000 grant and 4 months of valuable, free of charge coaching. Startups in ICT, Heath and Space can apply here.
As a Coach, I had the pleasure to work with amazing entrepreneurs, and not very surprisingly the conclusions are similar to what I already saw in my own entrepreneurial experiences as well as in other mentoring/coaching programmes.
This can be summarized in what I call PATH TO SUCCESS. Let me explain.
P for Perseverant
As an entrepreneur, you must be perseverant to go through the ups and downs of your journey, and that’s the same within the Fit4Start programme where the startup founders must be resilient. It may happen that your initial idea is not so good and the jury and/or the coaches will encourage you to pivot. But don’t give up!
A for Ambitious
Be ambitious while being realistic too, which is always the challenge. Having your grand vision materialized into a Master Plan can be helpful to show clearly what your ambition is and where you want to go.
T for Transparent
Startup founders are expected to be transparent with the various stakeholders, who may be their clients, their investors and in the case of the Fit4Start programme with the jury and the coaches. Lying or hiding important elements is not an option. Soon or later it will be discovered and then be prepared to the consequences!
H for Humble
Stay humble. You may have the breakthrough idea of the century and you can be the new Steve Jobs, but you have always to learn something. So be a sponge and take everything you can from the advices of your advisors, coaches, mentors. Keep learning and growing.
T for Track
In your way to succeed, track everything you can. Become a data-driven leader. Know your key metrics and your economic engine, and track these figures quite maniacally.
O for Overachieve
Set up realistic goals and put all your efforts to overachieve them. If you plan to develop your MPV in 3 months, do it in 2 months. If you plan to be break-even in 2 years, do it in 18 months. When you deliver to customers, always give them more than what they were expecting. As a participant into Fit4Start, deliver at the Steering Committees more than what the jury was hoping. Keeping this habit of overachievement will put you in a virtuous circle of continuous improvement.
S for Sales
How to succeed as a business … simple … Sell … Sell … Sell! So be obsessed with sales. This must become soon or later your first source of funding. During the Fit4Start programme, learn how to your sales cycle works and build your sales funnel so you can track it and focus on it every day.
U for Unique
What makes unique your value proposition. What are your USP – Unique Selling Points. What is your secret sauce. In our today world where almost everything exists, having key differentiators either in terms of technology or business model or even execution is fundamentally key to succeed.
C for Customers
Know your customers. Who is the end user? Who can influence the decision process? Who makes the final decision? How do you establish and maintain excellent relationships with your clients? These are key questions you need to master and the only way is to talk to your market. So go out of your computer and speaks with the market stakeholders.
C for Check
Check every single hypothesis you make. Avoid any confirmation bias. It’s very common for entrepreneurs to believe for true some initial assumptions while this was never tested/checked. “Clients will buy at this price, for sure, they have such a pain with the current solution.” Ok, but how are you sure of that? Did you ask them if they would be willing to buy your product/service and at that price point?
E for Expansion
How can you expand the business. After delivering into your beachhead market, what are the next adjacent markets where you can deliver your marvelous product/service. Also think about the best distribution strategy to expand fast and cost-efficiently.
S for Scalability
Being a successful startup is one thing, but how can you become a successful scale-up. You need to hire people, you need rock solid management and probably you need external funding. Again, refer to your master plan and start from there to have an ambitious and realistic plan to scale fast, because new comers can arrive and disrupt your disruptive solution!
S for Sustainable
Another obsession you must have is to be sustainable and have enough cash. Always have at least 6 months (if not 12 months) of cash ahead. Too much cash? That’s fine because you never know what can happen, and also you may use that cash for some acquisition or other expansion plans faster than initially planned.
I hope that PATH TO SUCCESS is a quick and easy way to remember you what is important in your entrepreneurial journey and please feel free to leave comments about it.
Build the World You Love!