To celebrate Startup Weekend’s first ever national launch last week, Intuit Australia has developed a range of tips to help local innovators succeed in their entrepreneurial journeys in 2015.
Top tips for startup success
1. Walk before you run.
Having the spark of what you believe is an amazing idea can be extremely motivating, but starting up usually involves a steep learning curve, a major investment of ‘free’ time and cash.
With this in mind, one Sydney-based startup notes that entrepreneurs need to acknowledge “startups are not normal businesses” and should “spend lots of time understanding the startup scene before starting your own”.
Spending some time in co-working spaces and attending events like Startup Weekend are two ways you can find out how to connect ideas and people to grow a new company. Volunteering for a startup will also provide insight into what it takes to run a business.
2. Start a business to solve a problem.
Before committing to your dream, it’s important to know your business has a sound reason for being – that is, it exists to solve a problem. Further to this, you need to thoroughly understand the problem you would like to solve.
Once you have solidified this, as one recent communications startup notes, you should only move forward if you are truly committed to making your business the one to solve it correctly.
3. Take your idea to market early and test, test, test.
One of Intuit’s key innovation tactics is rapid experimentation and taking ideas to customers early before investing too much energy on something that may not work.
This approach is something Australian startups are embracing – particularly in the technology sector – with a consistent piece of advice from those who are already established being to “launch earlier for more feedback”.
Test your ideas with a potential client, ask for feedback, and observe interaction with your product or offering – you’ll soon find out what works and what doesn’t, then you just need to adapt your approach until you nail it.
4. Embrace the cloud.
Cloud technology has delivered on its promise of affordable, efficient IT infrastructure – for all – meaning you don’t have to be a huge enterprise to have sophisticated technologies that allow you to streamline your operations.
For example, using cloud accounting software will not only save you time through automation and reduced data entry, but also enable you to spot trends in growth numbers, predict cash flow and identify the best customers. Working in the cloud can also help boost productivity as it allows you to access your data anytime, anywhere meaning you can get things done on the move.
Today, there are also range of other cloud-based Apps that can help with everything from digitally capturing receipts to sending invoice payment reminders, creating amazing business reports and helping manage inventory and staff. And many integrate with cloud accounting offerings which means less time spent on admin, and more on growing your business.
5. Build meaningful relationships.
We live in a digital age where the majority of our work and communication is done over emails. But taking the time to collaborate face-to-face and build great partnerships, or even simply making a follow up call are two key pieces of advice from those who note the importance of investing in relationships when you’re starting out – you never know who is going to help you.
6. Surround yourself with good people.
Finding the right talent to support your vision and represent your company who combine technical, creative and commercial skills is a challenge, but it’s crucial to helping your company succeed.
In startup environments, there is the chance things will go wrong. So it’s essential to have optimistic problem solvers on board who are not only going to contribute great technical skills, but remain focused, creative and motivated when the company is faced with a setback.
7. Take advantage of the research and development tax incentive.
The federal government’s R&D tax incentive provides a tax offset for eligible R&D activities in Australia. It’s a crucial source of funding for many startups and as one Intuit App partner noted, “R&D grants have helped enormously – any help you can get when starting out is a win!”
8. Dust yourself off and try again.
Feedback from many startups is that the journey to success is a roller-coaster of emotions and involves its fair share of setbacks. But more often than not, it is in the failures and the hurdles that key learnings occur.
Being agile and adaptable is important for success, as is “staying true to your values and focusing on building the best product out there”.
Nicolette Maury is Managing Director of Intuit Australia.