Entrepreneurs never start out thinking their business will ever fail. Armed with a fresh approach to an existing idea or product, or thinking they will produce an application which will generate millions in revenues, remains the motivation to work endless hours. In the FinTech sector, new businesses continue to rise and fall. Despite the best attempts to understand the market, the product provided and the vision for growth are all key components that can differentiate a business from striving to one that will exist on fumes. The skills needed to launch a company are different when compared to the skills needed for growth and making the exit.
There are no guarantees that if a CEO follows a specific guideline they will be successful. However, below are a few points that can be kept in mind, for any business owner to apply.
Remember to check your ego at the door. CEOs have to remember that although ego is not necessarily a bad trait, it has to be “checked at the door” if you want to succeed. Ego, in many cases, could have been the driving force to ignite the entrepreneur to start the business in the first place. However, if not kept in check, it can grow and can become all consuming. You can tell when it grows out of proportion because the CEO can no longer take criticism or constructive suggestions from the team or investor. The CEO fails to realize the team brings their own perspective and experience to the job or project and could add value when their input is considered or evaluated. When the CEO has both the questions and the answers to everything, this is the beginning of a problem which can contribute to failure.
Where are the finances headed? I have dealt with clients who have no idea of their revenues and expenses. This is the lifeblood of the business. Therefore I recommend an accounting tracking software not only to keep up with expenses and revenues but also to assist with forecasting and budgeting. I asked one of my clients recently about their media budget and I did not get a response. This could be due to a number of reasons, however one reason remains, there was no budget. Keep up with the finances and allow the results to help you make sound business decisions. If the company is pre-revenue, it still is important to account for the expenses and identify areas to cut costs, if possible.
Do not get caught up in the hype? There are a number of FinTech conferences ranging from Finovate, Money 2020 and others that have gained momentum over the last few years. Entrepreneurs have to be careful to make sure they are dealing with reality and not fantasy. No one becomes a rock star overnight. Developing a clear business plan and strategy and delegating initiatives to the team could help. Self promotion is good and building awareness to your business can yield results. Be cautious and spending money traveling to conferences all over the world rather than building a sustainable business.
What is your marketing plan? I raised this question to our clients and I get a number of different answers. Some have no idea what that is? Others have developed a comprehensive marketing plan by month and quarter. They have seen the importance of using print, social media and grass roots marketing in their approach. Others feel they can run it as an after-thought. My response is that if you do this your business will suffer and your investment with erode. Starting with a simple marketing plan focusing around social media could be an effective start. Understanding your company strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats can lay the groundwork to your marketing plan. Social media is an excellent channel to promote your company. Find out what could work for your company and work hard to build the momentum.
What do you what to be when you grow up? Earlier this year, I presented at the Electronic Funds Transfer Association (EFTA) on the subject of Marketing Strategies for the FinTech Start up. At the conclusion of the presentation there was time for questions and answers and someone in the audience stated that a large problem among FinTech companies is that there remains an unclear vision of what they want to be when they grow up. The audience agreed as for some companies, the vision and focus is unclear. What problem are they solving for? What is their core business and strategy for the future? The CEO should have an idea, a vision and path for growth that is clearly defined.
Want more information from seasoned FinTech CEOs to examine the strategies they used to build a successful business? Starting in September, The Walker Group will launch the CEO FinTech Leadership Series. Each month we will spotlight one FinTech CEO who will provide a perspective about the industry, challenges and opportunities.
The Walker Group is a FinTech marketing and promotion company serving multiple industries including finance, banking and technology. Our varied market segments enables us to identify synergies and opportunities to stimulate growth as we partner with our clients to build their business. Through our one-on-one CEO Advisory Services we have helped companies to navigate through their key business problems, increase sales, build new revenue streams, market their product and gain new customers. For more information contact Wayne Brown WayneBrown@waynebrown.nyc.