Survive or thrive: the building blocks for a successful start-up

Surviving in today’s competitive market as a start-up is no easy feat. With encryption bills, talent gaps and R&D crackdowns accelerating the change in our business landscape, launching a start-up in Australia is becoming a challenge, requiring a different strategy to what we’re used to.

In May, both Sydney and Melbourne tumbled down the global rankings in being the best cities for start-ups. Sydney dropped six places to 23rd, while Melbourne failed to make the cut entirely based on access to funding, talent and global connectedness. And it’s not limited to Australia, it’s a global epidemic. In the UK, it’s estimated that nine out of 10 start-ups fail. What this shows, is building more support for the start-up community is now at a critical stage globally.

So, among the trials and tribulations of kick-starting a start-up, what can founders and small business owners do to not just survive, but thrive, in this challenging landscape?

Community is king

Often, the role of the community is grossly underestimated in the development of the start-up ecosystem. Start-ups require a community to thrive. Often, the role of the community is grossly underestimated in the development of the startup ecosystem. Startups require community to thrive. Six weeks after founding my business, I moved into WeWork. My criteria for setting up base was to choose a location with the strongest sense of community and the least friction for a startup to scale. After getting to know the team on the ground, I became the first member to join WeWork Labs in Sydney.

Being part of a start-up community has been hugely beneficial for me. As a founder, you’re naturally invested in the survival of your business. New obstacles often arise which you never knew existed and combating these can often make you feel alone until a solution is found. However, being one small step away from another founder or business leader, who may have experienced a similar challenge, can make all the difference.

Constant exchange of ideas

As challenging as the start-up journey can be, being surrounded by positive energy and other motivated business leaders is invaluable. Business leaders often have different skillsets and strengths so working in a close-knit community helps the flow of ideas. As part of this, feedback is key to understanding the timing of your business journey so surrounding yourself with other leaders can provide much-needed insight.

Naturally, different industries tend to evolve at different paces but what’s key is being aware of what’s working and what’s not. A disruptor may solve a major problem in a sector you don’t operate in but this may actually provide inspiration for another idea in a different industry. At Zenify, we’ve taken inspiration from innovative solutions within the financial market. From exploring this industry, we’ve worked out a way to integrate data into decision making and also how to best structure a social enterprise business that operates in retail, like ours.

Act local, think global

Global thinking is a crucial piece of the puzzle for any start-up in the market today. Since founding my business in 2017, I have utilised networks to tap into knowledge and on-the-ground support across the globe. There’s a huge comfort in knowing I’m just one warm introduction away from a local, trusted expert.

As Zenify is a technology-driven retail start-up, in-depth knowledge about a variety of key areas is crucial. We need an intricate understanding of global logistics but also need to be up to speed on data analytics. Gaining this knowledge is critical to the success of a business and being part of a global network helped immensely.

Learning to survive, and thrive, in today’s competitive environment can be incredibly challenging – but it’s one of the most unique and rewarding experiences. As regulation evolves and investment into innovation changes shape, the start-up ecosystem needs more support. Focusing on tapping into communities of talented business leaders can make all the difference and help take your business from zero to 100.

Andonis Sakatis, Founder, Zenify

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