An IBM and Oxford study recently concluded that 90 percent of Indian startups fail in the first five years since their inception. This analysis is true for startups across the globe. One can ask, ‘What all these firms must be doing wrong?’ Various reasons for their failure tend to be listed, from poor timing, below par execution, to inappropriate product-market fit, careless financial planning etc. The next question one tends to ask is, ‘How can entrepreneurs avoid such failures in their own ventures?’ The authors of ‘The Startup Masterplan’ – entrepreneurship guru Dr. Nikhil Agarwal and young entrepreneur Krishiv Agarwal – suggest that the answer lies in overcoming the lapses in decision-making. The role of the entrepreneur is to make decisions, and when a business fails, it is always a result of poor decision-making.
A business requires careful planning, lots of hard work, expedient and rational decision making. To make a business succeed, the decisionmaking process needs to be fixed. It can help any entrepreneur achieve his dream. Once a business is successful, not only has one contributed to society massively but the entrepreneur too makes a fortune for himself and his family. To ensure this was the end result for every venture was the motivation behind authoring this book.
‘The Startup Masterplan: How to Build a Successful Startup from Scratch’ is a comprehensive guide and a manual to help develop entrepreneurial thinking skills, attain an overview on how to approach several essential aspects of starting up; from designing the brand to funding the venture. One will learn how to sustain the startup after it enters the deep seas with its ready product. Surviving in the cut-throat world of corporates is as hard as getting in there in the first place and astute decision-making is core to that survival.
There are three pillars to decisionmaking – perspective, nuance and analysis. Perspective necessitates segmenting thinking into different parts and utilising each independently to ensure an objective perspective.
Chapters 5 and 8 of the book talk about the ‘Six Thinking Hats’ and how to use them. Each hat is a perspective of thinking. The ‘white hat’, for example, represents the information perspective: looking at each decision and analysing whether one has reliable information and whether it is adequate to make an informed decision. Then there is the ‘green hat’ that represents the growth perspective: given the decisions, how can one utilise those to grow the opportunities to better the business in the future.
Nuance is about knowing when to stop and what to look through. In a way, all chapters are a study of nuance as they dive deep into different aspects of business or business decision-making. Still, a distinguishing chapter in this regard is Chapter 12, which discusses the idea of the sunk cost-trap. Realising one is in a sunk cost-trap, whether that be in the context of losses and profits, is an introductory section of business nuance that needs to be applied in every part of decision-making since it requires you to analyse each nook and cranny of your business and weigh its costs and benefits.
Analysis is the core tool of decisionmaking and is supported by the other two pillars. One aspect of decisionmaking that (historically) businesses have ignored is risk. The book’s final chapters explain in detail how to deal with the threats and identify different forms of risks when analysing investments or business decisions. For an excellent analysis, you need a correct perspective and a healthy dose of nuance; without those, it will fail in its purpose.
Besides just understanding decision-making, ‘The Startup Masterplan’ also gives general advice on fundamental business setup problems. Although these topics seem trivial and minor, these are core to how a business works. If one has to take away anything from the previous paragraphs, one should know that nuance is necessary for success as an entrepreneur.
Many businesses may fail but understanding the pillars of decisionmaking and learning how to solve fundamental business problems goes a long way in protecting a business from filing for bankruptcy.
‘The Startup Masterplan’ is written in easy English for everyone to understand. The book provides detailed tips and tricks to startup founders on how to get things right.
It has numerous examples and cases that explain the concepts and provide direction on how to implement them in real life. The book is highly recommended for entrepreneurs, corporate executives, MBA students, and startup founders. It is available on the Amazon store.