A Roadmap for an Entrepreneur, Stage 2: Creating a Company
Going from an idea to a real company is a critical transitional process from many perspectives: emotional, operational, and financial. Assuming that angel investors have chipped in or you have pooled in your own finances to start the venture, the pieces have to be put in place for the creation of a company. The key objective in this stage is to demonstrate that you have a viable company and that your vision has been validated.
The essence of starting your business will be to demonstrate to other stakeholders the value that your company offers. These stakeholders could be your employees, shareholders, suppliers, customers, or even friends and family. The value is nothing but demonstrating, in no uncertain terms, to these stakeholders that your idea works.
Good internal communications within the company is an essential ingredient to success. Everyone needs to be pulling in the same direction to get the job done, whether it is technology development or marketing initiatives or in-house chores. Sharing and complementing each other's roles builds teamwork and ensures attention to critical issues. To do this, you need to be extremely vocal inside the company and engender the perspective that "Everyone is a founder." You need to evangelize and energize at every opportunity that presents itself. Inevitably, there will be some employees who may need to be prodded and pushed. Constant communication is the key to making people understand what the company is trying to deliver. It is important to communicate the upcoming challenges as well as recognize the milestones achieved, both collectively and individually.
While capturing value is one side of the coin, the other side deals with understanding how time itself can be a strategic asset in increasing this value. While you evangelize and communicate the value, your stakeholders will increasingly look forward to actually see you deliver it. Your competitors will raise their antennas. You will be under pressure to deliver. This is the stage when you need to understand the money value of time.
For aggressive environments, time is far more important than money. Understanding when money can be traded to gain time is important. You should explore various options that allow you to get to market faster, such as:
Should I develop in-house or should I outsource?
Should I build subsystems and components or buy them?
Can I look at partnering with some of the companies that I consider competitors?
Reinventing the wheel could result in waste of time, especially if the components are freely available in the market. The focus should be on delivering the value your company promises to its stakeholders while keeping in mind that the cheapest options may not necessarily be the best options for you. Getting to market early with outsourced modules may be more important than getting in late with a completely in-house solution.