Earlier in the week, I had the chance to attend an exclusive talk on start-ups and entrepreneurship presented by Steve Baxter, investor and entrepreneur from Queensland, and 'shark' investor in the popular Australian TV series 'Shark Tank'. In this post, I would like to share with you some of the key takeaways from this session.
During his presentation, Steve talked about his journey as an entrepreneur in the tech industry, his experience working at Google, his portfolio of investments, what it was like being part of the 'Shark Tank' team of investors, what he believes are the 3 fundamental things every start-up founder must do, and his current involvement in the Australian start-up scene.
In this post, I will be focusing on the 3 things that Steve strongly believes every start-up founder must do and, in particular, the crucial role that planning plays to help you achieve success.
According to Steve Baxter, the 3 things every start founder must do are:
1. Want to win.
I think the statement says it all. If you don't start your business with this in mind, you are not giving yourself your best chances to succeed.
2. Plan to win
- Define your goals
- Make sure you have a plan, execute it and if it something in it does not work, fix it.
- No plan survives contact with customer
- Ensure that everybody knows your plan and that everyone is working towards the same goals
- Know management accounts. Get some basic understanding on how accounts works and if needed, work with an accountant to manage the finances of your business.
- Look at your bank balance daily as this will tell you if you are expending more than it is coming in.
- Have in-house tech ability
- Talk to your investors (if you have them) every month
- Find the metrics that count for your business. There are lots of metrics that you can come up with to measure how your business is doing. Stay with those that will give you crucial information about the performance of your business.
- Execute according to your plan and change it when needed
- Understand equity
- Be honest with yourself and anyone around
- Network. Attending industry events, keep in touch with your existing customer or attend events where opportunities exist to meet prospect clients.
- Highly value customer/paid opinions. There is nothing like feedback from your clients and people who have tried your service/product. They will help you refine your offerings and even identify new business opportunities.
- Empower staff. Share all you know with them and give them ownership of projects. Help them grow by being their mentor.
1. TEST YOUR PRODUCTS/SERVICES BEFORE GOING BIG. In Steve's own words, in order to avoid the risks of building a start up without gaining traction, test, test and test more. Once you start getting more demand for your products and/or services, you will get a feeling of what traction is like. That is the time to start looking at taking your business to the next level.
2. LET OTHERS IN, IN ORDER TO HELP YOUR COMPANY GROW. Steve Baxter argues that entrepreneurs must move beyond their 'flying solo and do-it-yourself' mindset and they must surround themselves by experts in different fields such as marketing, patents and trademarks, accounting, investments, professional coaching or mentorship to guide them to achieve business growth. Keep an eye for our upcoming 'Entrepreneurial wisdom guest' who is an expert professional coach and will share valuable information and tips on this very important topic for business owners wanting to take their businesses to the next level.
3. PLANNING IS CRITICAL TO SUCCEED. Many business owners only find the need to write a business plan when they need to seek investment. However, if this is not your case, it is still as crucial to develop a plan for your business. You can purchase our business plan blueprint and financial planner below.
Writing a plan will not only help you determine your company's goals and objectives, but it will force you to think through all the components of your business and to create a roadmap to follow in order to achieve the success that you have set out for your business. It is also a key resource to refer back to frequently to gauge if you are achieving your objectives. Lastly, it is an important tool to share with your management and staff teams to keep them informed and engaged about where the company is heading and how to get there.
About Steve Baxter
Steve Baxter started his own entrepreneurial career at the early age of 23 by launching his first start-up, the Internet service provider SE Net, which he later sold to OzEmail/UUNet.
After taking some time off, he was back founding his second start-up, PIPE networks, which he also later sold to TPG telecom for a whopping $373 million.
An enthusiast of aviation (he holds his own private pilot's license), Steve is currently a very active member of the start-up Australian scene, he gives regular talks on start-ups, entrepreneurship and early-stage investments all over Australia, he helps running 'River City Labs', a co-working space he founded in Brisbane and which fosters collaboration and the coming together of entrepreneurs in the mobile and internet industry to collaborate and bring ideas to life. Lastly, he manages together with his team, his large portfolio of investments in a wide variety of Australian start-ups.
To learn more about Steve Baxter and follow him up on social media, check the links below.