3 lessons learnt from startup applications

Drawing from my own experiences on starting a business

1_ Know your focus.

When you do yoga or meditation, they say focus on your breathing. When you drive, they say focus on the road. What else could you do when you’re first starting out a business except to focus. There will be tonnes of ways to do things, tonnes of people to connect with, tonnes of opportunities. Of course, sky is the limit, as many say.

It’s never wrong to dream big, but more importantly to acknowledge your weaknesses, show how and why you are working around it. In application forms and at interviews we get asked things like why are you not doing B2B? Why not taking this and that route? Have you tried such and such? Show them why and why not. Short of skills, no experience in certain fields, etc. Acknowledge them and say why they’re not of your interest now, but why other ways instead. Show people what you’re doing at this stage of your business that is appropriate.

2_ Get initial traction.

We all always get asked these question before, how much have you sold? How many people are using your products?

Ideas are plenty, and only execution counts. When competitions are looking for early stage companies, they don’t mean “idea stage”. Even if you think you’ve got a brilliant billion dollar idea, you’re still nothing until you get your first customers. Cold-calling, emailing, knocking on doors, etc. Do whatever you can to prove your idea is worth investing. Prove that your product/service is needed. Prove that people will pay to buy your product/service. Grab hold of those people you spoke to for future feedback. You want to keep them by your side at this crucial stage when you’re still watering your seed.

3_ Be prepared.

Yes, be crazily over-prepared, just like what George said here which really resonates with me. In fact, there is no such thing as being over-prepared for interviews like this. Know your application deadlines and plan ahead. We were super excited with all the open applications that we thought we could make. Cramming pitch decks, mockups and business plans over and over again was just not efficient. We were not prepared. Pressured by the deadlines, we lost control. Short of proper business plan, financial projections, etc. These were mistakes we shouldn’t have made. Lesson here is to really take control and be prepared. Nobody knows your business inside out better than you.

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