Startup Lessons From a Serial Entrepreneur
Guest Post by Sanjay Dalal, founder and CEO of Ogoing, a small business social network.
Ogoing is my seventh startup since I moved to California in 1997. Ogoing is an exclusive social network for small businesses, startups and entrepreneurs. I put together the Ogoing business and product plan in the midst of the current recession in 2009. At that time, I had simultaneously started another startup India Business Network, and was actively marketing my Innovation eBooks, consulting and Innovation boot camp through InnovationMain.com (my third startup in parallel).
I am happy to share that over 1,000 small businesses have joined the Ogoing Small Business social network. India Business Network has over 3,500 global businesses. And InnovationMain.com has found over 1,500 customers since 2008.
I had launched another startup, an investment company Innovation Index Group in 2007, that I closed in 2009. Innovation Index Group was a great failure; I learned that it is quite difficult to make a company outside your domain of expertise. However, the failure of IIG helped me re-discover my passion for building Internet software products. And the seeds for Ogoing began to form.
I have three pieces of advice for young entrepreneurs interested in starting their first business, aka their first startup:
1. Have an unlimited drive. Be very passionate about your product or service that you building. You have to believe in what you are doing, and not lose sight of the big picture - why you started doing this in the first place! As you grow the business, begin forming a team that helps you grow and achieve your vision. Surround yourself with advisers and mentors who can guide you and help you course-correct.
2. KISS - Keep it simple stupid. As entrepreneurs, when we listen to lots of inputs from the market place, we may end up creating products that are way too complex. Simplicity sells. And it sells big! Think Groupon, Think Apple iPad, Think Google Search, Think Facebook and Twitter when they started. As your business grows, keeping it simple is a challenge! Don't fall in the features trap.
3. Don't run out of money. This is huge! Many a great ideas can fall short if they don't get funded adequately and in a timely manner. Bootstrapping is good to a point. Beyond that, the entrepreneur must look for outside help to get the business going. Getting funded is a full-time job. You or someone in your executive team has to be out there scouting the angels or VCs for money.
If you are looking to start your first startup, you have to be a risk-taker. Ask yourself, what will I do if this whole thing blows up and fails? What will happen to my family? Do I have the staying power? Do I have adequate financial backing? Can I go do something else? If you are risk averse, a startup is not going to be your best friend.
Sanjay Dalal is a serial entrepreneur and innovator and the founder of Ogoing. Ogoing is Sanjay's 7th Startup since he moved to California in 1997.