Turning an idea into a start-up company
In the current market, new start-up companies are cunningly identifying gaps in the market and then quickly and innovatively plugging them. Particularly in the technology/telecoms space where new ideas and evolution are driving cutting-edge advances in ways to make communication, commerce and, essentially, our lives easier. Irrespective of whether they are new Apps, new platforms, new media or new technologies to harness big-data analytics… new start-ups are, on a daily basis, changing the world! Thankfully, the wheels of invention are oiled further by the globe’s unquenchable thirst for making things better, easier, faster and all during a time where money is cheap.
As a country that brought to the world the Thermos Flask, the light bulb, the Catseye, and the jet engine, the UK has a pedigree of great thinkers, and even today we are introduced to talented, bright, entrepreneurial ‘innovators’ ready to bring to the world their new idea. It is exciting, but is a good innovator also a good businessman/woman? Can such people bring the ‘creative’ to the ‘corporate’, and then credibly gel the two?
Perhaps they can, but more often than not the answer is no. Having a good idea or a good piece of new technology is where it all starts, but if you came up with the idea, ask yourself: “Are you the best person to professionalise your business, monetise your idea and package your offering into a business that will attract the attention of the corporate world? This commercial stage requires a different set of skills and if you’re not good at it, seek the people who are
To contradict myself slightly, getting financial investment for your product is not the hard part, getting people to invest in your natural ability to build operational infrastructure for scalability is. To secure investment, you need to assure those with the chequebook that you are the natural-born leader to define and execute initiatives to achieve strategic objectives for growth, scalability, and perhaps eventually salability. If you’re not, those with the cash won’t be assured that their investment will be looked after or managed effectively. So, if you have a good idea that you managed to drive to a point of prominence or market recognition, someone already wants to put up the money, but the conditional part to that investment will be the business skills of your organisation.
These are some of the skills that start-up businesses must have within their organisation:
- Skill to professionalise the business
- Skills to keep costs down and deliver operational excellence and economy-of-scale
- Skills to drive and manage projects and programmes to build a business around your idea/product
- Skills to successfully carry out credible meetings with potential investors
- Skills to secure credibility for long-term procurement and scalable production
Remember, Investors not only look for good ideas and good products to get involved with, they also look for the right people to manage their investment. Mentors, corporate strategists, finance professionals, the project people, the marketers, the procurement people, the operational jedis, the corporate leaders…. These, ladies and gentleman are the specialists with the credentials to help you execute your dream. We all have skills and are good at some things, but not others. We mustn’t let pride or ignorance prevent us from assigning the jobs we’re not good at to the people that are. It’s the barrier to evolution.
Richard Lindsay is the Principal of TMT at Interim Partners.