How To Setup A Successful Start-up In Zimbabwe

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The importance of start-ups to financial freedom and economic development can never be overstated. The start-up culture is largely vibrant in most parts of the world and gradually picking up steam in Zimbabwe. On average, over 100 million start-ups come onto the scene globally every year. I want to inform the Zimbabwean entrepreneur on how they can successfully start their own start-up. First off, what is a start-up though?

What Really Is A Start-up?

The most basic workable definition I can give you is that it is a venture in its initial stages of development that is centred around one or more individuals working on bringing a product or service to market. One of the unique identifiers of a start-up is the pushing of quick and high revenue inflow under rapid growth, whilst usually disrupting a market. Key to mention here is that start-ups are mostly tech-based – it is virtually always the case. That plays into the goal of reaching an inexhaustible pool of prospective customers. Now wonder a start-up typically operates online and with so much tech used in its supply chain. So much more to talk about here but let us move on…

The Odds Are Intense – Bear That In Mind!

Disturbingly, the failure rate of start-ups, in general, is sky high. Here are some global stats to illustrate that:

9 in every 10 start-ups never make it
About 8 in every 10 start-ups setup through venture capital die
Less than 5 in every 10 start-ups ever live to celebrate 5 years of operation
Only 3 in every 10 start-ups get to celebrate 10 years of operation

The second stat there goes to tell you that access to capital does not necessarily guarantee the success of a start-up. Overall, those stats are global and are fed into, mostly by activity in developed nations. I mention that for a reason – you have got to work more and much smarter given the mercurial and bumpy operating environment Zimbabwe is.

Tips To Success Start-ups Success

The top 3 reasons why most start-ups fail are: No Market For A Product Or Service, Inadequate Financial Resources, Poor Team. There are of course several more reasons but these 3 are quite formative, foundational, and all-encompassing. Therefore some of the tips to you succeeding in putting a start-up in Zimbabwe are by paying attention to those 3 areas.

Comprehensive Market Research

When setting up a start-up you must be sure what you are bringing to market will stand out. Remember the crux of entrepreneurship is to provide a monetizable solution to a widespread problem. Thus on the most basic level, are you providing a solution people even need? Balance between skillset and relevance; what I mean is, do not just develop something because you can, is it relevant? Is there a scalable pool of people from which customers will emerge and be willing to pay for what you are offering?

This means your value proposition must be unique. This applies both ways, whether you are actually giving birth to a new market or you are introducing a product or service into a market with pre-existing competitors. What about your product or service, is it unique enough to attract customers or cause people to leave other brands and settle for yours? You must have ascertainable answers to these questions – no guessing or assuming! In order to get all these answers and more, you must conduct comprehensive market research.

Just so you know, the number reason why most startups fail is because of the lack of a market need. Quite ironic that many entrepreneurs jump into developing services or products that are not really needed by many. Over 40 percent of startups fail because of this. You might in principle have a good idea but there must be a market need for it. Especially here in Zimbabwe you must be very careful because it is an atypical operating environment. Most people have no access to tech or internet infrastructure so that potentially creates some problems. You must do some research to better understand because Zimbabwe is a unique operating environment.

Carefully Handpick Your Team

Two of some of the key aspects you must look at when picking your team are skillset and coercion. You must pick a team that wields the relevant skillsets. Contexts do differ but there are 4 pivotal skillset areas that must be catered to in establishing a startup. They are:

Visionary • This is the founder or the brains behind the whole start-up idea. It can be one person or even more than one person. That would be the founder and or co-founder.

Rainmaker • This is someone with expertise in driving sales through cultivating networks and the like. Revenue growth is their forte.

Customer Guru • This is one with skills on customer relationship management and all things customer-related.

Innovator • This is someone with the ability to disrupt or come up with strategies on witty disruption of how things are typically done whilst pushing new approaches and driving exponential growth through that process.

Skill alone is not enough; the team members must gel and have a healthy working relationship. Most startups fail because of fallouts amongst team or co-founders. Coercion is so important that without it skills can be rendered useless.

Have Your Finances In Order

Financial management is very important in setting up a start-up. Explore several sources of start-up capital from bootstrapping to approaching investors. Ruthlessly police every dollar! Account for everything which means you must budget and live by it. Be frugal; instead of being lavish channel more towards growth. Adopt the lean budget model from the onset i.e. keep expenses at bay by all means.

The odds are stacked against you but success is possible all the same. You need to closely look at these areas that I have just been discussing. They all fit in together and if well-oiled they increase your prospects of succeeding in this budding start-up culture in Zimbabwe.

by Clive Masarakufa.