From Obscurity to International Recognition: Blueprint for Startup Triumph

10 Essential Lessons for Aspiring Startups

Leading Capital Investors in the African Energy Market 2023 - Nigeria
Leading Capital Investors in the African Energy Market 2023 – Nigeria

Puttru went live on October 29, 2020, and in less than three years of operation, the company received international recognition from the UK-based MEA Markets for being the “Leading Capital Investors in the Africa Energy Market 2023.”

Despite not having launched with debt or equity capital from any venture capital firms, the company achieved this feat. How?

We have distilled the experiences from running Puttru into the top 10 lessons. These are lessons that we believe have helped set us apart from our competitors, including more mature companies with more resources at their disposal. We are sharing these lessons to assist startups like us that aspire to achieve the same results, specifically startups that launched by bootstrapping and wish to make headway without first going into debt.

Lesson 1: The road will be tough/the path to success is not always a straight line.

Are you looking to live on Easy Street? Then the life of an entrepreneur may not be for you. The most important lesson for startups is to know and accept that the road will be bumpy. Understand this, and you will find peace. Winning starts from the mind.

Lesson 2: The only business plan is the one that does the job.

Yes, have a great business plan before you start out, but this could change along the way. Do not confine yourself and your business in a box. Pivot when needed. What matters is doing what it takes to get the global plan moving. Keep it moving!

Lesson 3: The team matters.

There is no truer phrase than this: teamwork makes the dream work. Ensure that your team has the right mindset, and that each member is willing to do what it takes to get the results. Once again, mindset. It is possible to have cynics in your core team that can dampen the fighting spirit of everyone else. Be vigilant and prevent this from happening. We already know that things will not always pan out as expected. How your team receives and interprets failure matters.

Lesson 4: The leader’s mindset matters.

Even in situations where there are several founders, one tends to be more invested. This could be the person who birthed the dream/business idea and persuaded the rest to buy into it. In moments of challenges, especially financial ones, other members of the team might buckle under the weight of these challenges, but the founder must remain standing. Such a person must be ready and able to go the distance. And yes, it will cost a lot. Once again, mindset.

Lesson 5: Partnerships are everything.

Have you heard of the Cheerleader Effect? Research shows that people are more attractive when they are with others compared to being alone. Partnerships, especially the right ones, make you appear more valuable because some groups are willing to stand with you. You are not alone!

Lesson 6: Communicate and stay visible.

Yes, you are bootstrapping. Yes, you don’t have funds to splash around, but raising awareness matters. Our communication budget is one of our largest variable costs annually. Even though we never go overboard with it, as we keep costs reasonably slim, we have always looked for creative ways to put ourselves out there.

Lesson 7: Start small to implement the big plan.

As a bootstrapped startup, you are constrained by fund size, staff size, and energy. Stretching and spreading yourself thin will weigh on you – your results and your purse. So, keep an eye on your funds and prioritize actions that lead to the best business results – for right now and/or set you on the course to where you want to go in the future. Yes, some investments you make today may not yield monetary benefits right now but are still worth it. Moreover, these lessons in managing scarcity will serve you in the future – trust us.

Lesson 8: Customers would rather have it for free.

Getting paying customers is harder than anyone prepares you for because they would rather have it for free. For a brand-new business – the name is new, and you have no results to brag to your prospective clients yet, they would, understandably, want to try you out first – without making any cash commitments. Include such offerings. It might not be what you had hoped for, but this can help you start to get some traction and bragging rights. Use this to get your name on their lips.

Lesson 9: Take an unwavering position concerning your worth.

You have been approached by clients and have provided your services, albeit without charging as you would like to. The upside is that you now know what you are doing, and you know people need your services. So, you have earned your stripes. Feel comfortable negotiating better terms for yourself. Be ready to walk away from a client that is not ready to pay for your services.

Lesson 10: Keep on learning.

The experiences from running your business will look different at different stages of your business’ growth. While the nine (9) may appear differently during those times, the core lessons will remain the same: the path to success is not always a straight line; the only business plan is the one that does the job; the team matters; the leader’s mindset matters; partnerships are everything; communicate and stay visible; start small to implement the big plan; customers would rather have it for free; take an unwavering position concerning your worth; and finally, keep on learning.