It would appear that anyone with a laptop and an Internet connection is launching a startup. I am not going to lie to you there is a romance behind building a successful company. Unfortunately, there is a great deal of work that must be done in private before you can celebrate your wins in public.
Not only is the journey ahead of you epic but 90% of startups fail, according to Neil Patel, co-founder of Crazy Egg. Why? Because… you waited too long to launch, you hired poorly, or you simply lost focus.
Until recently, I have been a serial failure as an entrepreneur. I lacked the understanding of how the short-term pain bleeds into long-term success. I have discussed these issues with a few entrepreneurs, and I have listed some of the mile markers they encountered on their journey to building a successful company:
1. The product is important to the business, but the company culture is more important.
Mike McDerment, CEO of FreshBooks, explains the company invests a great deal of energy into creating a company culture that is supportive and collaborative.
It’s in the DNA of FreshBookers to go to great lengths to execute extraordinary experiences every day for our customers and for each other. – Mike McDerment, CEO of FreshBooks,
The single most important commodity for a company is to hire for cultural fit; hiring people who share the company’s core values.
2. You are working hard to succeed, but first you have to fail before you can triumph.
Failure is a valuable tool for the entrepreneur. And without forensic analysis failure is nothing more than… defeat! So you must schedule the time to give serious thought to the question “Why didn’t it work out?” Once you start fleshing out this question higher-order learning and growth begin.
At the end of your analysis you must have clear ideas about why it failed, and what you will do differently next time.
3. You are solving problems, but you must create better strategies to solve the more difficult issues.
Todd Barrish, President of Indicate Media, practices four problem-solving strategies:
- Step 1: Thoroughly identify the problem and the cause of the problem.
- Step 2: Discuss solutions. This includes potentially reframing the conversation.
- Step 3: Assign responsibility of the solution. Who is going to manage moving things forward?
- Step 4: Set a measurement of the solution, so you know when and whether the problem was solved.
4. You are taking risks but the risks must be intelligent so that they can feed the innovation.
Todd Barrish, President of Indicate Media explains that innovation is the backbone of any successful startup.
Barrish sites the launch of his company as a prime example of how innovation has allowed Indicate Media to thrive. Todd continues to explain that the secret sauce to building brand credibility and securing new business is centered on his ability to take intelligent risks against established norms.
5. You are focused on your vision, but you are failing to recognize when to adapt to the market.
No marketplace is immune from change, and if your startup is to succeed, then you must change with the market. But it’s not enough to match course with the market – to experience gain you have to stay ahead of the change. This is why it becomes important to understand the difference between what Andy Grove, author of Only The Paranoid Survive, refers to as recognizing the difference between signal and noise.
6. You are creating products better than your competitor, but you must make the product better for your customer.
You must constantly be engaged in conversations around making better products. And I am not just saying to make the product better than your competitors but it must be better than what you have done before. Sometimes it might be a minor change that could be implemented in a few hours, other times the implementation could take months, even years to fully realize.
7. You are settings goals for your company, but they must be D.U.M.B. goals.
- Dream-driven: Let’s start with building a big dream, stay away from the safe dream.
- Uplifting: Your goals should have a prerequisite of being positive. Your goals should inspire you to accomplish them.
- Method-friendly: You need to build methods of obtaining your goals. Your focus should be on building habits that move you closer to achieving your goals.
- Behavior-triggered: When you set a goal, you need to create triggers that remind you to keep chasing them.
8. You’re focusing on the work ahead but to succeed you must build the appropriate skills.
At the beginning of most new projects, you will lack key skills that are critical to the success of the project. Understanding this issue is critical and will condition you to focus on those skills.
Once you have identified the skill to master, you must not only create a set of habits, but you must also have a provocative ”why” is the skill important. This strategy will place you in the proper mindset to keep you growing the new skill.
9. You have mentally prepared yourself to deal with the stress of a startup, but you have not changed your mind.
“There is nothing more powerful than a changed mind,” explains motivational speaker Les Brown.
It’s your disempowering story that you are not good enough that keep you from achieving you true potential. By changing your mindset to believe with certainty in your potential, you give yourself permission to take massive action, which gets you those amazing results, you have been dreaming of.
10. There are times when you’re about to give up, but you have to focus on why this thing is important to you.
To be honest, don’t ever think about giving up. If something doesn’t work out, thinking of a new way to make it work and move on. You must be determined to get through the bad times. If need be, get your team together, outlined the situation, until you come up with a plan to fix it.
11. You do a great deal of talking but for you to understand what is needed you need to shut-up and listen.
Great leaders are great listeners. It’s not your job to dominate the room with your rhetoric. Your job is to listen because the most effective strategy to get people’s attention is for you to give them your attention.
12. You are the boss but to be successful you need to be a leader.
Leaders are not the boss. Leaders develop the gift for getting others to operate at their peak performance. And what might those gifts look like:
- Listening to your team and addressing suggestions, concerns, and personal issues.
- Coaching your team to raise their performance to a higher standard.
- Allowing every team member the opportunity to voice their ideas.
Take the opportunity to listen and you will create an environment where they can unleash their full potential.
Featured photo credit: Unsplash/Volkan Olmez via unsplash.com