This is What Will Make or Break You as A Startup (WARNING: It is not a must read)

Earlier on today, I had a meeting with some young man who is aspiring to do an online TV. His intention with me? He wanted to partner so that I can host a show about start-ups and entrepreneurs.

So I asked him these questions;

  • How long have you been in existence?
  • What are your social media numbers (and how fast are they growing)?
  • Current website traffic (and how fast is the growth)?
  • What is the most viewed video you have (why)?
  • What is the average number of views per video (how many videos do you have)?
  • How much revenue have you had in the period you have been existent?

Normally, unless I want to give advice when I ask a person the above questions, I fold the conversation as long as they don’t give me convincing answers. I do this especially if the meeting was an intended partnership for online businesses.

Those figures should ideally be at your fingertips if you’re working with online content. Yet, as I was discussing with this gentleman, I figured he was far off. He struggled to give a convincing answer to any. He was skeptical of his own figures.

Since, I have lately mastered the art of giving unsolicited advice — especially to people that walk up to me, I set out to give him what I thought — NO SUGAR COATING things.

First of all, I told him that what he is proposing doesn’t make sense to me when I can do it alone with no much hustle. I would literally be training him. Actually, we’re planning on doing the same concept with Digest Africa next year.

Secondly, I told him that the partnership would be one sided which wouldn’t make sense to me.

When I squeezed more out of him to get to understand his knowledge of what he is getting into, my conclusion was that he was still living in a bubble. He was trying to get defensive of why he didn’t know his numbers.

His reasoning was that he can just focus on doing what he is doing while ignoring his numbers, and boom, he will land sponsorship or become big.

Of course, I don’t blame him much. Very many aspiring or young entrepreneurs tend to fear the monster called making a business case. They, therefore, tend to hide under a blanket they occasionally refer to as “I am doing this out of passion” or “you just don’t get it.”

Dear all wantrepreneurs, even a person running a school business can analyze an online business case. It doesn’t take rocket science to understand the difference between 50% and 10% growth or revenue of UGx. 10M and NO revenue.

As long as you can’t figure out your numbers, whatever you’re trying to do will be doomed (if not already). In startupland, everything you think about is reduced to mere figures in just minutes.

Any person who can help you grow your startup or business will always reduce a conversation you’ll want to have with them to only figures. That way, they are sure to know who is serious about what they’re doing and who is playing with their time.

And those figures will be the basis for making a decision.

Let’s take an example of Africa as a continent. We are all reduced to a market size of around 1.2 Billion people or, people’s favorite; close to 700 Million unique mobile subscribers. That’s it. No one will talk about how many countries or how many languages we have here and how Africa has Zebras, Rhinos and blah blah. They just focus on that one figure and base their decisions on that.

My humble plea to all those looking to build a startup or ready building one, you should be able to reduce it to figures in just minutes. No one has time to listen to your stories of how far you have come. No one has time to listen to the challenges you’re facing. People don’t have time — especially for you.

So, if they give you a minute, make the best use of it. There’s no better way to use it than reducing all that you do to figures. They speak for themselves in most case. This is something you need whether you’re going to be for-profit or not-for-profit.

In conclusion, I advised him to go back and put his figures in shape. Until then, he shouldn’t try to go out and contact someone for partnerships, investment or sponsorship deals. They will not continue the conversation for more than a minute.

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