Ivo Bozukov is vice president of energy transition at Forum Energy Technologies. In addition, Ivaylo Bozoukov also serves as director of TrakiaBioProduct, a company he founded in 2007. This article will look at entrepreneurship, providing an overview of some of the main considerations for founders seeking to launch and grow their companies.
Establishing and expanding a start-up is not without its trials and tribulations. As the business grows, the founder has to grow too. Many find the transition from entrepreneur to business owner a challenging process.
Forward-looking founders take full advantage of programmes designed specifically for start-ups and entrepreneurs, such as mentoring programmes, incubators and online courses. For first-time founders, incubators can be particularly beneficial, providing the education and resources required to get the business off the ground.
Start-ups that lack access to a large incubator programme should look at programmes and professional groups in their field, both of which can provide resources for entrepreneurs. In addition, founders should attend events to help grow their network, establishing connections with mentors and industry contacts. Both in-person and virtual events can be valuable, offering both educational and networking opportunities. After all, the more the entrepreneur can learn and connect with others, the better equipped they will be to build their business.(2)
A founder just starting out on their entrepreneurial journey typically plays multiple roles within the company, effectively doing the job of half a dozen people, plugging away until they are in a position to bring someone else onboard. The sooner the start-up can start hiring the better, even if this means adding just one or two more employees to the team. Even when money is tight, hiring one key employee is usually a good investment. Expanding the team helps founders to take their business to the next level, enabling them to delegate tasks to workers with the right skills and freeing up their time to concentrate on strategies to help take the business to the next level.
In terms of building a successful business, there is no silver bullet. No unicorn was created overnight. Take for example Dropbox, whose business model centred around Google Adwords long before the company started inviting customers to ‘Refer a friend for more space’. Hotmail may be associated with free email today, but the company’s initial offerings focused on radio ads and billboards.
Virtually all successful start-ups achieve their scale via a single channel. However, with so many options to consider, many founders succumb to the temptation of trying to be all things to everyone rather than focusing on one thing.
Great businesses are built on much more than good products. Founders must be flexible, organised and creative, paying close attention to the fine details of the business while never losing track of the big picture. Business leaders must be prepared to make personal sacrifice. Irrespective of industry, growing a business requires exceptional organisational skills, constant focus and creativity, among other credentials.
Start-ups need to be keenly aware of the competition, analysing the activities and performance of rival companies to gauge areas where their own business needs to improve. Founders building their own business invariably work harder than they would if employed by someone else and must therefore be prepared to make significant sacrifices in their personal life.
A successful business is one that is well organised, helping leadership to schedule tasks efficiently and keep on top of the many responsibilities that need to be fulfilled. To-do lists can be an effective means of achieving this, as can the many digital resources that are available today, including Zoom, Asana, Microsoft Teams and Slack. In fact, a simple Excel spreadsheet can go a long way towards meeting the organisational requirements of a small business, particularly in the early days.
Successful businesses pay close attention to financials, carefully maintaining accounting records to help them see where they stand financially and potentially providing a better and earlier grasp of any challenges the business may face. Today, many businesses maintain two sets of records: one physical, with a second set on the cloud, lessening the risk of losing crucial data due to an unfortunate event such as a fire, computer virus or other unexpected occurrence.
Great business leaders recognise the need to take calculated risks to help their business grow. Founders need to consider the worst-case scenario and whether they could live with that outcome or need to take additional steps to mitigate the risks as far as possible.