So you’ve got an idea. The Idea. It’s got legs and you’ve got a start-up. Now what? Are you ready to grow it? How do you know?
There are many types of ‘readiness’ when it comes to business. Possessing internal qualities like passion about your business and a drive to succeed, as well as a commitment to weathering the highs and lows of self-employment are a no-brainer. Having the skills to bring your idea to life and the experience or networks to support your endeavour is another. If you possess these qualities, you’re halfway there. Another type of readiness, one of the most important (if not the most important), is preparation and planning. Before you venture into the world of start-ups, you should have established a plan. Once you’ve got one, you’ve got a starting point. The start of a start-up, if you will.
Having a clear plan and having done the thinking behind your business is one of the main things the selection committee for BNZ Start-up Alley looks for. Start-up Alley, held every year at Webstock, is a celebration of New Zealand start-ups who want to scale rapidly, those doing social enterprise work, and those seeking to establish themselves as long-term, sustainable businesses. The prize package is extensive, and is an amazing springboard for businesses looking to scale and grow their enterprise.
The application requirements are pretty simple: be a New Zealand business, have 5 or less employees, be in the web/technology or social enterprise industry and have a working concept or product for your start up business relevant to these industries, and be able to demonstrate a clear direction and purpose.
Believe it or not, the ‘demonstrate a clear direction or purpose’ is often what applicants (and emerging businesses in general) struggle with.
This is where the plan comes in. It gives your business a path, and serves as a guide to keep you on track. It’s what the Start-up Alley selection committee will be looking out for – that you have a vision, know where you’re going (or, at least, where you want to go) and have (some) idea of how to get there.
Here are some of the questions budding entrepreneurs (in fact, any business owner) should be able to answer about their business:
- What does your business do and/or provide? What problem are you solving?
- Who are your customers? Who are your potential customers? Do you know them well?
- Who are your competitors? And how do you stack up against them?
- Who have you got on your team? What resources do you have at your disposal?
- What’s your revenue plan? If you were to get an injection of capital, how would that money be spent?
So you know you’re ready. What now?
Take the plunge and throw your hat in the ring at Start-up Alley. We know it can be a daunting task to put together a 5-page application, so here are some tips from the selection team.
Keep it clear and concise, but be sure to include the following:
- What the product is
- Who’s behind it
- What the market is
- What you have done so far in terms of building/launching/selling
- How will you use the prize money
- What is the growth/revenue plan
Things that excite our selectors:
- Businesses where there is a genuine market for what they are producing or offering – it can be niche, as long as it exists!
- Products or services that are easy to explain to others
- Businesses with a genuine business/revenue model in place
- Transparency around numbers
- Unique ideas
Things that annoy our selectors:
- Not tailoring the application to fit the competition you are entering – don’t just submit your standard brochure
- Spelling mistakes and typos
- Broken links
- Irrelevant information – don’t pad it out, just because you can. You don’t have to use all 5 pages!
We have done the draw for the two tickets to Webstock ’16 but be sure to read everyone’s _ anecdotes and advice about starting out in business in the comments below. _