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3Thriving Strategies for a Successful Start-up

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3Thriving Strategies for a Successful Start-up

Has the idea of a start-up ever excited you? Have you ever been thrilled by the idea of entrepreneurial success and fulfilment? Writes Prerna Mukharya 

Running a startup is like nurturing a family. It isn’t time bound; it is a 24 hour job or a 24 hour recreational challenge. But running a company is a drive, its personal, and each day is different than the previous. It is a little bit like being in love and yet the number of decisions that one must take can weigh one down.

  1. Bootstrapping

There is no right formula and yet I am a big believer of bootstrapping.

Lesson 101 in business school is – a business must make profits.

Startups just like fledgling businesses must be driven towards the idea of independence, staying non-partisan and being true to their vision, whatever that may be.

Bootstrapping teaches you the value of resource, monetary and otherwise. One is pushed to optimize on time, and out-perform consistently. There is no ‘fixed’ income source, and yet salaries must be paid and rent given out beginning of the month.

I remember how Outline India won its first assignment off a linkedin message I happened to send to someone. I have a distinct visual of that day. 

  1. The power of struggle

While bootstrapping keeps you battle ready at all times, the struggle keeps you sane.

At Outline India we grew strength to strength, reach to reach and number to number on our own. We have not raised money and yet we are profitable. We are people and innovation driven. AT any one point, we have about 45- 100 people on the ground across the country collecting our data. We build on the IP of our experts from UN, ASER, WaterAid, the Indian government, JNU, and other intellectuals who guide us. We often use the help of local language consultants, and not for profit staff, who work alongside our full time research staff.

Our tech product, “Track your metrics” which I am very excited about is being built in Bangalore by our coders and developers. The point is, these are models that have evolved in due course and not over night. These are individuals who have joined us, of their own accord for varied reasons.

I would like to assert that financial compensation is a part of the story and not the driver, for anyone engaged at Outline India.

I believe struggle sharpens us, it embeds in us a sense of responsibility.

  1. Meeting people

We may be introverts or extroverts but people and understanding their behavior is crucial to outcomes. Always remember, that at the end of the day, the funder/investor/donor/ client wants to be convinced that their assignment, money, or time is being valued and being channeled effectively. At the other end of the table, is always a human being who is looking for that ‘certain something’. If that, certain something manifests in the way you speak, your body language, and your demeanor, the likelihood of your success goes up. Ofcourse, the fact that you are a subject expert, is an assumption the aforementioned is based on.

Meeting people smarter than us, and surrounding ourselves with people who might know more than us, is a way to grow. Learning by osmosis is key.

There is no rule book, no one mentor, no class at business school that can quantify the amount of effort it will take. Sometimes, it also amounts to being at the right place at the right time (which indirectly is a result of prior persistence and hard work). Outline India has been working on the ground in India for about 5.5 years and is soon starting work in Africa. A lot of this has been without making it to the media, by keeping our head down and trudging along. Sometimes, just working and moving forward is a great idea. Let the white noise not drown you. And as I say, if its not working out just yet, then you are not done yet.

[Prerna Mukharya is the founder of Outline India. She has worked at University of Havard and MIT. She is a Chevening Fellow from Oxford University and featured twice on Fortunes’ 40 under 40 list.]

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