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Top 5 sacrifices startups have to make in order to grow

Young brands and startups are filled to the brim with excitement and enthusiasm, but entrepreneurs have substantial sacrifices they must make if they want to grow.

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Startups: not all fun and games

Startups, be they tech, retail, or service, dream of making it big time. Popped collars and fast cars motivate some, while financial independence motivate others, but in order to reach that point, all young brands have some major obstacles to overcome in getting to market, much less becoming a household name.

Devanshi (Nikki) Garg is the Chief Operating Officer of Icreon Tech, a global IT consultancy delivering business solutions and custom applications since 2000. Garg has years of experience in the startup world and tells AGBeat that there are five major sacrifices any startup will have to make if it wants to grow. In Garg’s words, below are the top sacrifices:

1. You have to give up complete control

Diving into a startup requires you to embrace chaos. Whether you’re the founder or one of the first hires, expectations about what aspects of your job you control should immediately go out the window. Invariably, most startups have too many things to do with too few people to complete them. This means you’ll need to exit your comfort zone, lest you quickly fall to the wayside. Facebook’s Mark Zuckerberg is often quoted, “Move fast and break things. Unless you are breaking stuff, you are not moving fast enough.” Members of startups need to be able to sacrifice their desire to have complete control over their day-to-day responsibilities and embrace the collective needs of the company.

2. Sacrificing your ego, and sometimes, your idea

All startups start out as ideas. However, for a startup to truly grow, members must be willing to sacrifice them and do so mercilessly. In a growingly entrepreneurial marketplace, the only certainty is competition, and ultimately, a bevy of competitors and pressures may require you to sacrifice the foundational idea your startup is built upon. Whether your ideas have been rejected by consumers or have been better executed by competitors, successful startups need to be able to pivot rapidly to avoid being rendered obsoletely. Just ask Bill Nguyen how important being able to pivot an idea is.

3. You’ll sacrifice your down time

For startups, it’s often a zero-sum game where the next day’s existence is not guaranteed. This means that your downtime is crucial to your startup’s success. Elon Musk recently stated during a Google Hangout with Richard Branson that, “you should be ready to work 100 hours a week”. If that sounds like too much of a sacrifice, you may not be cut out to achieve global success and notoriety. Establish the internal mindset that each and every hour is crucial, to not only your startups’ prosperity, but more importantly its survival.

4. Sacrificing financial security and stability

There are countless tales of entrepreneurs placing their entire life savings into their dream. While for some it pays off, for many it is the most stressful decision they can make. Pouring your heart and soul into a startup may not always be enough. Which is why many of today’s successful founders and CEOs have had to personally fund their projects. To help revive his near-failed dotcom era startup, Cvent CEO Reggie Aggarwal personally signed the lease for his company’s office building due to credit issues. This decision could have personally bankrupted Mr. Aggarwal, but instead he helped grow the company to 1,000 plus employees as of 2013. Although the light at the end of the tunnel may sparkle with monetary success, the journey to get there will have much less glitz and glam.

5. You’ll have to give up full ownership of your dream

Sweat, blood, and tears go into every startup. Taking your company to the next level often requires the involvement of outside venture funding and support. Identifying parties that believe in your startup is a crucial step forward. While the tradeoff involves having more stakeholders in your project and less personal ownership for yourself, this sacrifice is often one of the best ways to leverage a set of resources, (capital, technologies, or humans), that are extremely difficult to come by organically. Ultimately, it’s one of the biggest sacrifices to make for the sake of going from niche to mainstream and publicly recognizable.

Are you ready to sacrifice?

Tech blogs and news outlets glamorize the life of a startup, reporting on awesome offices and work perks, but the grunt work of being a founder of any company is often swept under the rug. Garg points out some of the top sacrifices any startup will have to make if it wants to scale, if it wants to grow. As an entrepreneur, are you ready to make the sacrifices necessary?

Marti Trewe reports on business and technology news, chasing his passion for helping entrepreneurs and small businesses to stay well informed in the fast paced 140-character world. Marti rarely sleeps and thrives on reader news tips, especially about startups and big moves in leadership.

Business Entrepreneur

How to choose the right software for your business

(BUSINESS ENTREPRENEUR) What are the best software options for your company? Well, we have a list of suggestions and questions to help you determine what is best for you.

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It’s almost impossible to run a successful modern business without some kind of software to help you stay productive and operate efficiently. There are millions of companies and even more independent developers working hard to produce new software products and services for the businesses of the world, so to say that choosing the right software is intimidating is putting it lightly.

Fortunately, your decisions will become much easier with a handful of decision-making rubrics.

Determining Your Core Needs

First, you need to decide which types of software you really need. For most businesses, these are the most fundamental categories:

  • Proposal software. Customer acquisition starts and ends with effective proposals, which is why you need proposal software that helps you create, send, and track the status of your sales documents.
  • Lead generation and sales. You’ll also want the support of lead generation and sales software, including customer relationship management (CRM) platforms. These help you identify and track prospects throughout the sales process.
  • Marketing and advertising. Marketing and advertising platforms help you plan and implement your campaigns, but even more importantly—they help you track your results.
  • Finance and accounting. With finance and accounting software, you’ll track accounts payable and receivable, and countless variables influencing the financial health of your company.
  • Supply chain and logistics. Certain types of businesses require support when it comes to supply chain management and logistics—and software can help.
  • Productivity and tracking. Some software products, including time trackers and project management platforms, focus on improving productivity and tracking employee actions.
  • Comprehensive analytics. Enterprise resource planning (ERP) software and other “big picture” software products attempt to provide you with comprehensive analytics related to your business’s performance.

Key Factors to Consider

From there, you’ll need to choose a software product in each necessary category—or try to find one that covers all categories simultaneously. When reviewing the thousands (if not millions) of viable options, keep these factors in mind:

    • Core features/functionality. Similar products in a given niche can have radically different sets of features. It’s tempting to go with the most robust product in all cases, but superfluous features and functionality can present their own kind of problem.
    • Integrations. If you use a number of different software products, you’ll need some way to get them to work together. Prioritize products that make it easy to integrate with others—especially ones you’re already using.
    • Intuitiveness/learnability. Software should be intuitive and easy to learn. Not only will this cut down on the amount of training and education you have to provide employees, but it will also reduce the possibilities of platform misuse in the future.
    • Customizability/flexibility. Out-of-the-box software products work well for many customers, but they may not suit your current or future needs precisely. Platforms with greater customizability and flexibility are favorable.
    • Security. If you’re handling sensitive data (and most businesses will be), it’s vital to have a software developed with security in mind. There should be multiple layers of security in place, and ample settings for you to tightly control accessibility.
    • Ongoing developer support. Your chosen software might be impressive today, but how is it going to look in three years? It’s ideal to choose a product that features ongoing developer support, with the potential for more features and better functionality in the near and distant future.
    • Customer support. If you have an issue with the app, will someone be available to help you? Good customer service can elevate the value of otherwise average apps.
    • Price. Finally, you’ll need to consider price. The best apps will often have a price that matches their quality; it’s up to you to decide whether the extra expense is worth it.

Read about each product as you conduct your research, and pay close attention to reviews and testimonials from past customers. Additionally, most software companies are happy to offer free demos and trials, so you can get some firsthand experience before finalizing your decision. Take them up on the offer.

Finding the Balance

It may seem like purchasing or subscribing to new software products will always improve your business fundamentals, but this isn’t always the case. If you become bogged down with too many apps and services, it’s going to make operations more confusing for your staff, decrease consistency, and drain your budget dry at the same time. Instead, try to keep your systems as simplified and straightforward as possible, while still getting all the services you need.

You won’t find or implement the perfect suite of software products for your business overnight. It’s going to take weeks, if not months of research, free trials, and in-house experiments. Remain patient, and don’t be afraid to cut your losses on products that aren’t working the way you originally intended.

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‘Small’ business was once a stigma, but is now a growing point of pride

(BUSINESS ENTREPRENEUR) Small businesses make up the majority of companies, employers, and money makers of the American economy, that’s something to be proud of.

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American small business

Prior to the Industrial Revolution, all businesses were small businesses. Independent craftsmen served communities with vital services. Small merchants opened shops to provide the community with goods. Lawyers, doctors, and other professionals hung out a shingle to offer their services to neighbors. Small businesses were the norm. Some of the most beloved American companies started out local. John Deere, Harley Davidson, and King Arthur Flour, all got their start as small businesses.

Business changes led to a attitude change

It wasn’t until manufacturing allowed businesses to scale and produce more efficiently that the idea of big business became more important. Post-World War II, the idea of a small business became derogatory. It was the age of big government. Media was growing. Everyone wanted to be on top. Small businesses took a back seat as people moved from rural to urban communities. Small business growth plateaued for a number of years in the mid-20th century. Fortunately, the stigma of small business is fading.

Small businesses are the backbone of the economy

According to the Small Business & Entrepreneurship Council, the “American business is overwhelmingly small business.” In 2016, 99.7% of firms in American had fewer than 500 workers. Firms with 20 workers or less accounted for 89.0% of the 5.6 million employer firms. The SBE also reports that “Small businesses accounted for 61.8% of net new jobs from the first quarter of 1993 until the third quarter of 2016.” Small businesses account for a huge portion of innovation and growth in today’s economy.

Modern consumers support small businesses

According to a Guidant Financial survey, the most common reason for opening a small business is to be your own boss. Small business owners are also dissatisfied with corporate America. Consumers also want to support small businesses. SCORE reports that 91% of Americans patronize a small business at least once a week. Almost half of Americans (47%) frequent small businesses 2 to 4 times a week.

Be proud of small business status

Small businesses are the innovators of tomorrow. Your neighbors want to support small businesses, knowing that their tax dollars stay in the community, and that they’re creating opportunities within their own city. Your small business status isn’t a slight. It’s a source of pride in today’s economy. Celebrate the fact that you’ve stepped out on your own in uncertain times. Celebrate the dirt under your fingernails, literally, or figuratively, that made you take a risk to do what mattered to you.

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Business Entrepreneur

Will startups ever fully return to offices?

(BUSINESS ENTREPRENEUR) Founders Forum survey seeks to understand how early-stage startups are changing their workplace strategy to adapt to our new COVID-19 controlled world.

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Startups in the tech industry are notorious for growing their businesses from their bedrooms, coffee shops, and mom’s basement. What more do you need when you have a phone, a computer, and a strong Internet connection? Besides of course, an idea and a lot of nerve.

Evidently, a lot more, hence the burgeoning coworking space industry that has surged in the United States in recent years. Founders have flocked to shared workspaces to find employees, mentors, and exchange ideas and resources with other startups. Creating a shared space to build community amongst like-minded individuals makes a lot of sense.

Unfortunately, the entire premise of the physical setup of this community has been challenged by the coronavirus. Founders have been driven back to their homes and basements, but have not lost their hunger for community.

That’s why the UK-based entrepreneur community Founders Forum is conducting a comprehensive study about the future of work for startups. “Founders are having to make critical decisions about their return to work strategy in isolation,” Founders Forum Executive Chairman and co-Founder Brent Hoberman told TechCrunch. The survey seeks to understand what founders are thinking about remote work strategies and, use of office space going forward.

As we begin to grapple with the increasingly real scenario where people will have to endure waves of quarantine as we wait for an immunity breakthrough, startups, SMBs, and tech giants alike are reconsidering their daily work structures to adapt to a new reality. Large companies like Facebook, Spotify, and Twitter have announced sweeping changes like indefinite work from home options for certain employees. This survey seeks to gather the yet-to-be-explored ideas from the early stage startup community.

In the entrepreneurial spirit of community and collaboration, the fundamental question at play here is, “How are other founders changing their workplace strategy?” The survey will also attempt to shed light on how employees’ various remote work environments may influence their point of view on strategies for moving forward.

Founders can take the survey here. TechCrunch will publish the results.

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