Can I build this platform, myself? … that’s the question I asked in mid-2012, when I stepped out from the Promoter’s Boardroom, after one of the presentations. But to have the guts to leave a corporate job, without worrying about salary & cash-flow, it took me one full year to debate, prepare, and all possible groundwork, to say “yes” to myself.
Finally, with clarity on what we wanted (myself & MK), we started working on the IT specs & the Business plan, from mid-2013. But we went fully live with Team, Operations, IT and above all, our full-time involvement, from Aug-14 onwards, thereby completing 6 full years today.
Today on this occasion, let me write about my 6 great learnings, I have had on this momentous journey:
TEAM – Building a team with a corporate & building with a young company like ours, is a huge challenge. First and foremost, you may be a start-up with an entrepreneurial mind-set, but your team-mate, who is joining the company, does not fancy the same. Second, work culture plays an important role, which must have a clear role-profile on performance & reward. But at a start-up, due to multi-tasking & evolving roles, performance measures on the key areas are usually mixed, discounted, and in no time, same results into frustration. Therefore, building job clarity with the team, right from day one is a must, and same to be promoted with a culture of performance & reward.
CASHFLOW – I have always believed in positive cashflow, but somewhere this got mixed in our initial years, with our development efforts and the belief that we will cover up later with big numbers. Believe me, this never happens, also this is related with Team building above, hence our learning the hard way. It took us a while to understand, clean up & put things in order. Not just it impacts a company, but it also impacts your own personal cash-flow.
CUSTOMER – Everyone says getting customers is the toughest task, yes, I do agree, but managing a customer is still a bigger & an important task, than the entry funnel strategy. One of the key reasons for us to start & build MoneyFrog. One area, where we are ahead of the pack, and we are doing it beautifully, is managing customers. Soon we will go live on our ERP version 2.0, where customer management will be redefined, and we will create a new norm on our service levels. Our success here stems from the fact that we have a good number of new customers monthly, coming thru our referral program. Therefore, we believe, a happy customer leads to a happy company, and we are a happy company today!
ROAD Map – One should have absolute clarity on this, as to, where do you want to reach? and what is your objective? One needs a clear Goal (objective), what needs to be achieved & which can be measured with a timeline, else we are just fooling ourselves. We were clear right from the beginning, that we are not here to sell mutual funds, or to build a five click execution platform**, but to build a platform to offer solutions, which are life-long & above all, not to offer it free. Though in between, we also ventured into unchartered territories, for various reasons, but soon we realised our mistake & stepped back. (** we do sell mutual funds & built a five click execution platform, but that’s not what we want to promote)
FAMILY – When you are building a start-up with limited resources, your time & energy gets drained out, by the time you get back home. One cannot expect them to understand your plight & timeline, as you decided to leave your job & take this plunge. Therefore, one must set priorities right, as I have done my share of mismanagement in my initial years, and thankful to my wife & kids, for sailing me through.
ENJOY Your Success – However small, one should always enjoy, as this builds a culture of success stories, which eventually leads to more success. This is also true the other way round, i.e. the more you cry, more you will witness negative stories. We have been doing it in all formats off lately. Success is not just positive cashflow, big numbers, fund raising, or many likes one gets, but as simple as a call from your client, saying “thank you” and you telling the same to your entire team & family, with a “feel good factor”.