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How Short-Term Suffering in Startups Leads To Their Long-Term Success

How Short-Term Suffering in Startups Leads To Their Long-Term Success

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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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

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Last Updated on August 20, 2019

How to Find New Growth Opportunities at Work

How to Find New Growth Opportunities at Work

Career advancement is an enticement that today’s companies use to lure job candidates. But to truly uncover growth opportunities within a company, it’s up to you to take the initiative to move up.

You can’t rely on recruiter promises that your company will largely hire from within. Even assurances you heard from your direct supervisor during the interviewing process may not pan out. But if you begin a job knowing that you’re ultimately responsible for getting yourself noticed, you will be starting one step ahead.

Accomplished entrepreneur and LinkedIn Co-Founder Reid Hoffman said,

“If you’re not moving forward, you’re moving backward.”

It’s important to recognize that taking charge of your own career advancement, and then mapping out the steps you need to succeed, is key to moving forward on your trajectory.

Make a Point of Positioning Yourself as a Rising Star

As an employee looking for growth opportunities within your current company, you have many avenues to position yourself as a rising star.

As an insider, you’re able to glean insights on company strategies and apply your expertise where it’s most needed. Scout out any skills gaps, then make a point to acquire and apply them. And, when you have creative ideas to offer, make it your mission to gain the ear of those in the organization who can put your ideas to the test.

Valiant shows of commitment and enterprise make managers perk up and take notice, keeping you ahead of both internal and external competitors.

Employ these other useful tips to let your rising star qualities shine:

1. Promote Your Successes to Your Higher-Ups

When your boss casually asks how you’re doing, use this valuable moment to position yourself as indispensable: “I’m floating on clouds because three clients have already commented on how well they like my redesign of the company website.”

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Tell your supervisors about any and all successes. Securing a new contract or signing a new customer should be a cause for celebration. Be sure to let your bosses know.

2. Cultivate Excellent Listening Skills

Listen well, and ask great questions. Realize that people love to talk about themselves.

But if you’re a superb listener, others will confide in you, and you’ll learn from what they share. You may even find out something valuable about your own prospects in the company.

If others view you as even-minded and thoughtful, they’ll respect your ideas and, in turn, listen to what you have to say.

Check out these important listening skills: 13 Powerful Listening Skills to Improve Your Life at Work and at Home

3. Go to All Office Networking Events

Never skip the office Christmas party, your coworker’s retirement party, or any office birthday parties, wedding showers, or congratulatory parties for colleagues.

If others see you as a team player, it will help you rise in your company. These on-site parties will also help you mingle with co-workers whom you might not ordinarily have the chance to see. For special points, help organize one or two of these get-togethers.

Take the Extra Step to Show Your Value to the Company

Managers and HR staff know that it can be less risky – and a lot less costly — to promote from within. As internal staff, you likely have a good grasp of the authority structure and talent pool in the company, and know how to best navigate these networks in achieving both the company’s goals and your own.

The late Nobel-Prize winning economist, Gary Becker, coined the term “firm-specific,” which describes the unique skills required to excel in an individual organization. You, as a current employee, have likely tapped into these specific skills, while external hires may take a year or more to master their nuances.

Know that your experience within the company already provides value, then find ways to add even more value, using these tips:

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4. Show Initiative

Commit yourself to whatever task you’re given, and make a point of going above and beyond.

Position yourself so that you’re ready to take on any growth opportunities that present themselves. If you believe you have skills that have gone untapped, find a manager who will give you a chance to prove your worth.

Accept any stretch assignment that showcases your readiness for advancement. Stay late, and arrive early. Half of getting the best assignments is sticking around long enough to receive them.

5. Set Yourself Apart by Staying up on Everything There Is to Know About Your Company and Its Competitors

Subscribe to and read the online trade journals. Become an active member in your industry’s network of professionals. Go to industry conferences, and learn your competitors’ strategies.

Be the on-the-ground eyes and ears for your organization to stay on top of industry trends.

6. Go to Every Company Meeting Prepared and Ready to Learn

A lot of workers feel meetings are an utter waste of time. They’re not, though, because they provide face-time with higher-ups and those in a position to give you the growth opportunities you need.

Go with the intention of absorbing information and using it to your advantage — including the goals and work styles of your superiors. Respect the agenda, listen more than you speak, and never beleaguer a point.

Accelerate Your Career Growth Opportunities

A recent study found that the five predictors of employees with executive potential were: the right motivation, curiosity, insight, engagement, and determination. These qualities help you stand out, but it’s also important to establish a track record of success and to not appear to be over-reaching in your drive to move up in your company.

Try to see yourself from your boss’s position and evaluate your promote-ability.

Do you display a passion and commitment toward meeting the collective goals of the company? Do you have a motivating influence with team members and show insight and excellence in all your work?

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These qualities will place you front and center when growth opportunities arise.

Use these strategic tips to escalate your opportunities for growth:

7. Find a Mentor

With mentorship programs fast disappearing, this isn’t always easy. But you need to look for someone in the company who has been promoted several times and who also cares about your progress.

Maybe it’s the person who recommended you for the job. Or maybe it’s your direct supervisor. It could even be someone across the hall or in a completely different department.

Talk to her or him about growth opportunities within your company. Maybe she or he can recommend you for a promotion.

Not sure how to find the right mentor? Here’s How to Find a Mentor That Will Help You Succeed.

8. Map out Your Own Growth Opportunity Chart

After you’ve worked at the company for a few months, work out a realistic growth chart for your own development. This should be a reasonable, practical chart — not a pie-in-the-sky wish list of demands.

What’s reasonable? Do you think being promoted within two years is reasonable? What about raises? Try to inform your own growth chart with what you’ve heard about other workers’ raises and promotions.

Once you’ve rigorously charted a realistic path for your personal development within the company, try to talk to your mentor about it.

Keep refining your chart until it seems to work with your skills and proven talents. Then, arrange a time to discuss it with your boss.

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You may want to time the discussion around the time of your performance review. Then your boss can weigh in with what he feels is reasonable, too.

9. Set Your Professional Bar High

Research shows that more than two-thirds of workers are just putting in their time. But through your active engagement in the organization and commitment to giving your best, you can provide the contrast against others giving lackluster performances.

Cultivate the hard skills that keep you on the cutting edge of your profession, while also refining your soft skills. These are the attributes that make you better at embracing diverse perspectives, engendering trust, and harnessing the power of synergy.

Even if you have an unquestionably left-brain career — a financial analyst or biotechnical engineer, for example — you’re always better off when you can form kind, courteous, quality relationships with colleagues.

Let integrity be the cornerstone of all your interactions with clients and co-workers.

The Bottom Line

Growth opportunities are available for those willing to purposely and adeptly manage their own professional growth. As the old adage says,

“Half of life is showing up.”

The other half is sticking around so that when your boss is looking for someone to take on a more significant role, you are among the first who come to mind.

Remember, your career is your business!

More About Continuous Growth

Featured photo credit: Zach Lucero via unsplash.com

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