Growing a new business in a small town

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Small town in a Dutch polder landscape © by inyucho (2006)

“Call me Deepak. Some years ago — never mind how long precisely…nothing particular to interest me on shore, I thought I would sail about a little and see the watery part of the world.” This (modified) opening quote from Melville’s Moby Dick perfectly captures my state of mind when I ventured out as an entrepreneur to avoid the job-seeking rat race and pursue something new. Out of Kerala, India, four LBS College of Engineering students created Innoz Technologies in 2008.

Entrepreneurs aren’t solely bred in the Silicon Valley and don’t need to hustle on Wall Street to grab investors’ attention. Here are five practical steps to get your startup off the ground, even if you’re lifting off from a small town:

  1. Build a team. Find people who are complimentary in skill set yet identical in attitude. College is the place to connect with fellow aspiring entrepreneurs who have raw ambition and young blood!
  2. Identify a need. Find a problem that has yet to be solved, or discover a new and better way to solve that problem. Chase a market that is full of potential, and simplify your product as much as possible while still maintaining its quality and efficiency. Is there too much competition? Take it as a challenge and compete with yourself rather than with other companies. Trust me: when there’s competition, there’s business.
  3. Find a mentor. Mentorship is more important than funding for young startups. Compensate for your lack of experience by getting wisdom from industry veterans — this priceless advice is often distributed freely.
  4. Log your story. Post updates for the media and the public, for potential investors and curious clients. Learn from others’ corporate culture, communicate clearly, respond to others in a timely manner and build lasting professional relationships. It’s the right way to build a respectable brand.
  5. Spend sparingly. My mentor always advises that entrepreneurs should think of ways to survive a downturn and emerge as a stronger company. Keep expenses at a bare minimum, as it’s initially easier to spend and harder to earn.

If you don’t ever start up your startup, you won’t find yourself stopped simply because you’re from a small town. The simple but pivotal steps taken during the initial entrepreneurial learning curve will set an invaluable precedent for creating a successful brand and business.

Deepak Ravindran is the co-founder and CEO of Innoz, a young and exciting mobile venture rated among the Global 100 technology companies by the prestigious RED Herring Magazine.

The Young Entrepreneur Council (YEC) is an invite-only nonprofit organization comprised of the world’s most promising young entrepreneurs. The YEC leads #FixYoungAmerica, a solutions-based movement that aims to end youth unemployment and put young Americans back to work.

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