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Despite the recent trials brought by the pandemic, Sweden's startup ecosystem boasts a vibrancy at par with bigger cities like Berlin, London, and Paris. The country’s continued status as a startup hotspot has even kept it from a recession. In fact, the country boasts over 10,000 startups despite a small population. The advent of rapid digitalization has been further encouragement for many aspiring entrepreneurs looking to begin a business from home, too.
However, as green as our Swedish pastures may be, it’s still important to keep a level-head. Here are four easy but crucial tips you should employ in your own venture:
1. Find a mentor
Startups are incredibly nuanced machines and only a mentor can help you maneuver them in critical detail. According to a statistic on Thrive Global, 93% of startup owners say that having a mentor is essential. There are some mentor and mentee workshops by the Swedish Chamber of Commerce that have a participation fee, however the Swedish Business Council also holds free programs. Social media can also help connect you with a mentor, even if your meetings are only online. Having a mentor expands your network, provides feedback, and can even increase your business longevity.
2. Consider market research
Even if you think you have a winning service that can set you apart, don’t dive in until you’ve completed market research. In fact, it might be what helps you become viable as an Investopedia piece on startups says that lack of research is one of the leading causes of failed endeavors. This will allow you to understand the details and numbers that shape the trends within an industry. Well-executed market research will illustrate target market habits, competitor assets, and societal impact. To do so, you could leverage on templates or programs that harness social listening, surveys, and various forms of research to create a clear picture.
3. Invest in talent acquisition
It’s tempting to ask friends and family to join a startup’s team. However, personal relationships aside, the credibility and success of a startup is only as strong as the people behind it. Instead of hiring ten of your closest friends, find two or three who are more experienced even if they’re strangers. Currently, Sweden has the greatest number of teleworkers or “knowledge workers” in Europe. With a work-from-home setup with your team, you are also able to lessen overhead costs for office space, transportation, etc. Along with investing in the right people, you must also invest in their wellbeing. Writer James Gonzales' list of tips for teleworking professionals mentions that setting boundaries and ground rules can encourage transparency and productivity. Remote work can be a double-edged sword for any organization, so know how to balance output with your teams' wellbeing.
4. Be realistic with finances
Truthfully speaking, a startup’s money will always be tight. This is why it’s important to be honest with your financial limitations. Beginning with capital, it may be prudent to take a loan or turn to crowdsourcing rather than investing your entire life savings. Securing a small business grant may also be a solution as this doesn’t require you to pay the amount back—however, it is very competitive. When deciding how to best acquire funds, study your estimated monthly expenses. The Medium shares simple ways to lessen expenses that can include sustainable practices like keeping certain tasks inhouse and shifting to paperless transactions.
While the startup culture may have survived 2020 unscathed, the pandemic has cast a light on a dire lack of social entrepreneurship that cannot be overlooked. Though the increased demand for sustainable and green initiatives in startups has inspired more entrepreneurs to take these into account, a recent European Commission report showed Sweden lagging in favorable conditions for social enterprise. As more Swedes are encouraged to begin the startup aspirations, let us hope that with these new players also comes a dedication to social innovation.
Written by: Jordin Brennt
Written for: ashokanordic.org