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What Skills Do Startup Founders Need Most

12 May 2022

From the ability to successfully build a network to the willingness to constantly educate yourself - Here we highlight some of the skills it takes for startup founders to succeed.

To build a profitable startup, founders need the ability to develop products, for example through technology or content, and the ability to market those products, for example through SEO skills or other marketing skills.

Of course, not every founder is a natural in every field, and even teams with different skill sets face completely new challenges when founding a startup. The important thing is to apply the just-in-time learning principle. In finding problems, building prototypes, experimenting with business models and marketing to potential target groups.

Constant learning

A willingness to continue learning is a key skill for startup founders. In summary, every founder needs to develop a solid understanding of the following areas:

  1. How to develop a good solution (product)
  2. How to position and present the solution (marketing)
  3. Where to find and approach potential customers (Sales)
  4. How to optimize and automate your processes (Operations)
  5. How to document and automate your business management (Accounting)

1. Product

To develop a product, you don't necessarily have to learn every technology or skill from scratch - that's what a team or specialists are for, and it's easier than ever to find them in today's international remote talent pool. What is important, however, is the ability to develop an awareness of where you are going wrong and the ability to adapt what you are doing as quickly as possible to get to the most efficient solution.

A good way is to first develop 1 to 2 small products whose development process takes no more than 1 to 2 months. Then the founder should already start with monetization. The approach of first developing and selling a small product has many advantages:

  • It can be delivered faster than a large project.
  • It saves time and gives you a head start.
  • You create a cash flow.
  • You create a foundation to build on.
  • It helps tap into first target audiences.

2. Marketing

Knowing how to attract attention for your product, or knowing someone who can, is a top resource for founders. Networking can become an essential factor for success, not only to increase awareness of the product, but above all to get feedback, testimonials and advocates.

Successful marketing starts in a closed room. Here, you should first work out how best to "pitch" the product, i.e. how to present it in 3 to 5 short sentences in a way that is as comprehensible as possible. Startup founders should practice this pitch before they rush into networking events from Meetups & Co. Because it quickly gets frustrating if you meet a potential cooperation partner but can't communicate the product well. 

The pitch is then adapted and perfected with the feedback and requests from the network, prepared for presentations and press releases. Initial testimonials gained from the network should be included on the project website and social media.

One of the most important questions that marketing must answer is: Who is/are the target group(s) and how do I best reach them? Even marketing professionals start from feedback from the network of a startup and then go into trial-and-error until the most easily accessible target group for the product is found - the so-called early adopters, who stand out for their interest in the new product. This is who founders should focus on first - where the target group is active, the startup should also be active - this applies to social media, events and many other activities.

3. Sales

No revenue = the end of the startup. That's why sales is the top priority. Even founders who break out in a cold sweat preparing for sales pitches need to focus on addressing their potential customers directly.

Things a founder needs to acquire for this are understanding the value you add, what that value add is monetarily worth to different audiences/customers, and from that, pricing. Negotiation skills help and it is essential to learn to charge for your output.

Many founders complain that they are "not good at sales". However, very few people are "born salespeople". Most founders have to develop and practice the skill of selling until this skillset becomes natural.

However, studies show that it takes 6 to 7 times more effort to acquire a new customer than it does to retain an existing one. So if you're interested in improving your profitability and reducing marketing costs, retaining customers is the way to go, and for many founders, it's the easier way.

4. Operations

Once the process of acquiring new customers is underway, it's therefore important to focus on customer satisfaction. After all, research shows that returning customers typically spend ~67% more than first-time buyers. 

In order to create smooth operations, i.e. business processes that guarantee customer and employee satisfaction, the first step is to sharpen one's intuition. Which suppliers and cooperation partners can really be trusted, who can really deliver, who is really good - and who is just pretending. 

Processes in a startup have to be adapted quickly. Time is money and the trial-and-error for creating smooth operations must not get out of hand.

5. Accounting

The good news in advance: Mastering financial accounting is no longer an issue for startups using Numarics OS.

Startups stand for innovation, dynamism and rapid growth. Yet the biggest challenges are rarely a lack of ideas, but insufficient cash flow management and resources for financial planning and reporting. Accounting and financial planning software are outdated, time-consuming and costly, and so is the perception of outsourcing to a fiduciary service provider.

It's important to find a way to stay organized in managing the various accounting and operational aspects of your startup. Between invoice management, team payroll, cash flow and budget planning, any startup that doesn't find an efficient solution to these tasks can find itself wasting a tremendous amount of time. 

Numarics provides you with a business operating system that completely covers business management for your startup. With Numarics OS, you have your accounting up and running in real time, and invoicing, quotes, and payroll automated. All the metrics for expense and investment planning that are valuable for your business decisions are provided in the process. Numarics OS is available as an app on the web and mobile at any time.

In the background, algorithms and Swiss certified business and financial experts work on all issues relevant to your startup. As a concierge service, our accountants are available to you at any time via click. Numarics OS replaces the traditional accounting service and offers you resources that otherwise only well-funded companies can access: All the services of a Chief Financial Officer (CFO) paired with management consulting. This leaves you free to focus on the implementation of your ideas and your core business.

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