At the beginning of this fall semester, I knew that this class would be interesting. I knew that it may or may not alter my way of thinking. I did not, however, realize truly how much it would change my idea of success. That is where my question comes in.
I thought, as many may, that you can only rely on yourself. After all, that's the only thing you're stuck with, right?
I was struck with hard reality when I came to the realization that I could not continue my first venture on my own. No more funds, no more ideas, no more love for what I once dreamed of doing as a full time job. However, failure is like doing a push-up.. you are better for it, if you learn. If you fall, do not stay down, this is not how failure betters you... and certainly not how you do a push-up. MGTS 4472 taught me a new concept/notion in failure. Hearing of failures, big and small, and being able to apply that to what I had gone through was incredibly valuable to me. The concept of failure is of course broad and applies to everyone, but it was this specific treatment of failure that touched me. And prompted me to list some huge things you rely on (or should rely on) to best avoid failure:
The bread and butter. The backbone of every thing that happens with the business. From idea to exit strategy. Your team is what makes, or breaks, your dreams. By entrusting a close group, you have greatly increased funds and ideas while dividing up the workload into manageable chunks. You can also increase your market reach with help from your team, as we experienced in the beginning of Soks Co., with more connections from each person creating a larger start-up network.
Now does this mean creating a board of 10 members? Unless it's appropriate, which it probably isn't... then no. Because while you want to add value with your teammates, you want to operate lean. Lean operations means that the fluff is eliminated, but also the focus is on efficiency and how to best complete your mission. From day-to-day tasks to overall business structure, you can practice a lean team and be incredibly successful. After all, why let fluff and inefficiency eat into your profits?
You don't just need to rely on people. There are a number of non-physical things that you must be able to trust in order to find success. I never thought a mission statement mattered. I shook off the threat that most businesses don't survive 5 years if they don't have a mission statement.
A mission statement is as critical as your team. Like a guide, you mold your business and practices out of your mission. You create based on what you want to achieve. Without a mission statement, you are pressing buttons and flipping switches in the hopes that something good happens.
Along the same lines, ideation are crucial. Idea generation and brain-storming, as made easier by having a team, is an essential beginning step in the process of building something that will last. With no clear idea, there is essentially no business or product. And that doesn't mean the idea can't change and be altered, after all adapting is a huge part of continued success.
(Good) Legal Help
Of course, most people know that you should protect your assets. People, as we have seen, will try anything to steal money and make easy profits. Whether it's blatantly copying your idea for a child's plate, or creating a logo that is way too similar to yours for comfort. Having the ability to traverse legalities that most people do not and will not understand is immense. Just being able to know how to establish your business (LLC, etc.) is a must. Because what good is having a pitch, having a mission, if you can't legally sell or provide that service?
You have your mission statement, your team is fleshed out, and your on the up-and-up for legal issues. Now what? How do you communicate value to people, get them interested in your idea? Your pitch. Whether it's the slides in front of you or your 10-second spiel in a literal elevator, you should be able to sell your idea with a short burst of info. Of course, having a central mission and idea fleshed out makes this way easier than improvising something. But if you can't even tell someone your idea, explaining it to them in a way that makes them want to support it/buy it, then something is off.
Okay maybe you can start a business on your own. Maybe you can wear all the hats, do the legal paperwork, the financials, the marketing, etc. But you can't play the customer role. And if you do, you won't be a business for very long.
If the team and the mission is the backbone, the customer is the bloodline of your business. The very success you stand on is their response to your idea. Do they hate it? Do they love it? Do they keep coming back because they can't get enough?
A market for your product is undoubtedly in the same vein as well. If you have no market, you have no demand. No demand translates to no revenue, no profit, and nothing but a hole to throw money into. Early on one must establish what market they are looking to build in, and how they can squeeze into or take over segments of the market. Unless you want to go after the entire auto or clothing market, however this seems like a large task, especially for a college-age start-up. Thus segmentation and knowing your market go hand-in-hand, and will allow you to reach the customers that you will rely on to support your endeavor. Any of the three failing to show up in the equation will hurt severely.
Many times I have compared the concepts in Entrepreneurship to a body/person. That's because each individual topic may differ, but when the mission gives purpose to the team but the team's idea brainstorming comes up with the problem that the mission addresses for the customers in a particular market... then each piece fits together as an essential part of the overall body.
Which brings me to my final point. Soks Co. has every bit of what I talked about. An amazing team, for which I am so thankful, a mission we all believe in, one that gives my work purpose, as well as a great pitch that's easy to swallow and customers that have shown incredible support for what we are doing. This is why I created my final on the Soks Co. site of all places. Because this body is the product of a fall semester in which I had no idea what I was actually getting myself into. But we have created something meaningful through it.