Everywhere you look it’s boom time for entrepreneurs. Many are are succeeding in part because the establishment costs for a business in the new era of the internet and social media is greatly reduced. You can advertise to a targeted market be it by geography or demographics at a fraction of the cost. As a potential or even established entrepreneur it’s always worth stepping back reviewing what others have achieved.
Let’s look at some nuggets of knowledge from five recently successful Australian entrepreneurs:
1. Solving a problem
Melanie Perkins the CEO of design startup Canva, a process that simplifies graphic design, shared her thoughts on what was the number one lesson she had learnt on her journey to success in a recent interview. “Solve a real problem” was her advice. How many times are startups the product of a personal interest or hobby that could be made better. Commercialisation will require a viable base of potential customers more likely attracted to a solution of a real problem than an indulgence.
The lesson is to understand that a startup needs to be a commercial endeavour with a product or service that others will pay for.
2. Naming a Venture
It often seems that the most minor decision can take up the most time for a startup. What to call the venture has been known to take as much time at the rest of the business plan. Naming a new born child is just so much easier. There is a list of popular names that has taken several thousand years to develop as the ultimate source. Simply choose the ones you like, be mindful of a few names that might please or even flatter influential relatives and the job is done.
Company names are a lot more complex. The question begged is what’s in a name? Some examples of famous names and their origins are:
- Alfa Romeo – company was originally known as ALFA, an acronym for Anonima Lombarda Fabbrica Automobili. When Nicola Romeo bought ALFA in 1915, his surname was appended.
- Apple – for the favorite fruit of co-founder Steve Jobs
- eBay – Pierre Omidyar, who had created the Auction Web trading website, called Echo Bay Technology Group. “It just sounded cool”, Omidyar reportedly said. EchoBay.com, was taken so Omidyar registered what (at the time) he thought was the second best name: eBay.com
- Facebook – name stems from the colloquial name of books given to newly enrolled students at the start of the academic year by university administrations in the US with the intention of helping students to get to know each other better.
- Joe Button – the Australian-based fitted suit online retailer was founded by Modi Song and Melissa Lee; two female entrepreneurs who started the business fresh out of university. They are quoted as saying “In hindsight, the personified branding was probably a mistake — both women frequently receive business calls asking for the non-existent “Joe”.”
The lesson is perhaps that a name that causes confusion is an unneeded distraction.
3. Scholastic skills
The founders of the super successful Australian startup, Atlassian, revealed an interview that they were not committed to scholastic endeavour. Mike Cannon-Brookes and Scott Farquhar freely confess to having completed their university degrees as more an obligation than a meaningful stepping stone to a career. Talented people will succeed regardless. in
4. Cash flow
Mr Wakefield and Mr McGowan, are the co- founders of Institchu, an online menswear store that allows customers to design and order their own tailored suits and shirts. Unusual for a retail business model they require no stock on hand and are paid in part in advance prior to the order being made. The result is a positive cash flow positive business model. This is a good reminder that there are only three things in business – cashflow, cashflow and cashflow.
5. Take the risk
Ruslan Kogan the founder of Kogan.com, has compared being a migrant to being an entrepreneur.
“Think about what it takes to be an immigrant, you have to drop everything in one place, take a massive risk, travel into the unknown, work your ass off for a potential benefit that might not even be there. And that’s exactly who an entrepreneur is, it’s someone who is willing to take risks, work really hard and sacrifice everything they have had at one given point in time to try and achieve something else.”
To get something better, you will need to take the risk.
The common themes emerging from successful entrepreneurs are often based on sound logic which is almost obvious to an outside observer. However entrepreneurs seem to need to learn lessons from experience. Sadly, as Oscar Wilde is quoted as saying “experience is a hard teacher because she gives test first and the lesson afterwards”.