Building Start ups – brick by brick!

Most successful organisations or empowered business divisions in existing business operations – come into being as start ups with a skeletal staff and almost no clear demarcations between functions.

As the business volume grows, number of employees as well as departments grow. There are initial bottle necks that hinder progress. Quite often, the line of authority is a disputed area with personal politics seeming more important than business itself. This is true even in well established ‘small’ private enterprises since the job role and responsibility is not well defined. And, there is a mad rush among the employees trying to gain attention of the management. Favouritism and Neglect play hide and seek with each other.

So, how do we build it brick by brick? Just like well planned cities – that are using effective town planning techniques and flourish faster than those unplanned – even, start up organisations require both short sightedness as well as long sightedness. Corporate Vision is necessary to ensure structured growth. Otherwise, it can fall like a house of cards while meeting market’s sporadic demands. Basically, what matters is whether the organisation is well equipped to meet uncertain demands of market?

At Kores start-up of Hewlett Packard distribution business, the focus was more on the enterprise structuring in a step by step manner. Initially, the list of products ( namely, printer consumables) were minimal stock focusing on fast-moving first – so that we do not face inventory wastage. Sales points (branches) were added only in response to market demand or they co-related with HP business plans for expansion. The manpower requirement was not ignored at any stage,to establish continued business at each sales point. Definitely, the aggression was there to ensure we do not lose business to the competition anywhere. Mind you, it was still not haphazard growth.

In the start up operation at chennai, selling smart card printers and consumables – the foremost need was to develop vision, identify markets and revenue streams, construe market demands into consideration prior to adding sales force or to decide on inventory level of stocks. It needed aggressive planning of business to meet self induced deadlines. Here to, the emphasis was to get the structure in place asap. And, the scale of operations totally depended on business output.

In larger organisations, enterprise structure takes into consideration issues such as the integration of existing departments to increase profitability by reducing cost of operations. Merging certain supportive functions with existing lines of business makes sense leading to better control and/ or guidance to new ventures. Accounts function is common in most start ups to keep an eye on expenditure.

The concept of ‘Profit center’ should be applied as early as possible after initial hand-holding and guidance. Such concepts also develop independence and accountability at the same time. Marketing techniques should be market-responsive, as each business operation is different from each other. It is not advisable to apply old successful sales techniques all the time. Market feedback facilitates thinking and evolving new marketing strategies. Regular visits to the market, at initial stage, are of paramount importance!

Patience and perseverance are essential while building start ups. At times, we may have to use kid-gloves while dealing with demanding Principals. Expectations on either sides should be quantified and monitored stage by stage. Reports are critical and feedback to Principals are more enriching to start ups than to any other goals. Joint visits to the market can be entered into, if required. Gestation period in business development to be defined after mutual discussions.

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