So there goes another year. Many of us look back with mixed feelings – we did some fun things, we did some dumb things, we did some great things. About half of us worked in a job that didn’t quite rock our boats. We wished we were a little braver, followed our hearts a little more and worked on something that we loved staying up late and getting up early for.
Well quit your wallowing! Here are 5 reasons why 2015 is your year to step up, start up, and work on something that will make 2015 your proudest, most successful year yet.
1. Life really is too short for depressing jobs
Now that you’ve taken stock of the last 365 days of your life, it’s a great time to reflect on what’s important to you, what you want your new year to be like, and what legacy you want to leave behind. Life really isn’t that long and even though it seems that there is always a tomorrow, there might not be. If you look at your life in weeks, you’ll see just how precious every week and year really is. Even more so for women who often sacrifice a few of those weeks to raise their children. So don’t wait for one day. Do it now.
2. You are not crazy for trying a startup
In 2011 when I launched my first startup not many people in Australia knew what a startup was. Even fewer expected a tech startup to be run by a woman. I had to explain to everyone why I had to leave a promising career behind and venture into the often chaotic and uncertain world of startups. I went to great lengths to describe to my friends, my former colleagues and, yes, also my mum what exactly I was doing in my living-room-cum-office for 18 hours a day with no immediate outcome and not a paycheck to be seen for miles.Thankfully, that is no longer the case. Startup founders are no longer seen as social outcasts who couldn’t get a job. The Startup Genome Study and subsequent surveys show that there are over 2000 tech startups in Australia, and tens of thousands of savvy startup entrepreneurs. You now read about startups all the time in mainstream media. Australia has grown a very supportive and inclusive community that every hard working individual who wants to take the leap into startup land is welcomed into.
3. You are not alone on the startup journey
It’s not just public perception that is changing and transforming startup founders into RockStar 2.0’s. There are many dedicated and passionate individuals who have been working tirelessly for years already to ensure that we cultivate an ecosystem of innovation and entrepreneurship in Australia.Startup incubators, accelerators, educators and support networks have launched all over Australia to help entrepreneurs create, validate and grow startups faster and more effectively than ever before. Every city now has startup co-working spaces, incubators and accelerators for you to try out. Not knowing where to begin is no longer an excuse.
4. You don’t need to code or have a startup degree
Having a desk in an incubator isn’t going to magically transform your idea into a multi-million dollar success. You do need to get a handle of some startup fundamentals. The good news is that can learn everything you need to make your business success as you go along. You can sign up to the 99tolaunch course for a daily task over 99 days to validate and build your idea while you’re still working, listen to the how to start a startup podcasts and trawl through Quora to learn about startups.You also don’t need to know how to code to launch and lead a startup. At BlueChilli we already launched 46 startups with non-technical founders in less than three years, with the combined value of those companies now $150M. Every time we work with a new company we learn better ways to build and launch startups and we adopt that into our 156 Accelerator Program and the 99toLaunch online course. We have proven that you can go from zero to hero in 3-6 months regardless of whether you can or can’t code. So not knowing anything about startups prior to starting one is also no longer an excuse!
5. Financial support does exist
Apart from great education and supportive incubator environments, there is also financial support available for startups just getting started. Take a look at the Innovate NSW MVP Grant which can get you $15,000 to test your startup idea. The Victorian Government also provides Innovation and Technology Vouchers for $10-25K that you can apply for. If you’re based anywhere in Australia, it’s also helpful to understand the new Accelerating Commercialisation grant scheme for startups.Once you’re getting further into development you can also make use of the R&D Tax Incentive. This tax break gives you a refund of 45 cents for every dollar you spend on research and development of new technologies or products. So if you’re in NSW and you spend your $15K MVP grant on development, you could receive $6,750 back from the tax incentive program, which totals your funds to $21,750. These do have to be development expenses, so heads up that salaries and marketing expenses aren’t covered through this! All the startups that work with BlueChilli maximize their funds in this way and when you’re developing more complex products for around $50-75K that extra 45 cents for every dollar goes a long way!
Grant money is generally not enough, so your third avenue in the early stages is to look towards corporate partnerships to provide not only financial support, but also strategic opportunities for growth. Recently we’ve seen increased support from corporates to cultivate and grow new startups whereas beforehand they would be a bit shy about working with “risky” early stage startups. The Disrupt@Scale program for example is made to support early stage startups with corporate funding and scaling opportunities. You don’t need to have a company incorporated or a team committed, you can apply with only an idea – four startups will then receive $75,000 investment each to test, develop and scale their ideas. It is open for another 2 weeks and can give you access to 12 million customers to give startups the opportunity to test and scale faster than you can by yourself just starting out.
And they say life doesn’t offer you opportunities on a silver platter… Only question now is will you take it or will you let another year go by?