No matter what kind of startup business you’re running, it doesn’t just grow overnight. It takes time and energy to get your business going.
When it comes to a successful startup, there are 5 common threads to success, no matter what industry you’re in.
1. Don’t start with a product or service … start with a problem.
True entrepreneurs know that the best companies are those that are founded to solve a problem. How can you sell things and build a business unless you have good products or services that people need or want? No matter what industry your startup is in, you need something good and unique to sell to people. Your products and services are what is going to bring in income for you, so you want to highlight what makes them different, what you use to make them (if it’s a product), how you source the materials or tools you use, and what value you can add to your target customers life. Everything you sell must add value in some way! SpaceX didn’t start off building its own rocket. In fact, in the early days, Musk and his advisers traveled to Russia to buy a refurbished intercontinental ballistic missile. The Russians offered Musk a rocket instead (sort of making fun of him). They had no respect for Musk … but that launched (pun intended!) the idea in Musk’s brain and SpaceX was formed.
2. Time management skills (I’m a bit partial to this one!)
When you run and operate a startup, you are going to be spending a lot of time doing EVERYTHING! You know that motto that says time is money? Well, in this case, your time IS REALLY YOUR money. Most startups don’t have large budgets, but to ensure successful growth, you must manage your time properly. How do you do everything? You DON’T!! An EA should be the first of your hires. Why? Think of the ROI. I’m all about being scrappy, but an EA can take you from frantic to successful in a matter of days (if you hire the right one.). Here is a link to an article from Richard Branson (one of my fav biz leaders of all time!) who explains why delegation is crucial to success.
3. Priorities + Self-care
There is a BIG difference between your business priorities and your own personal day-to-day priorities. We all know that running your startup isn’t like working 9-5 corporate. There isn’t something there to make sure you stay on task and get all your work done, that all falls on you. EVERYTHING FALLS ON YOU! We’ve all seen the meme of “I left 9-5 of working for somebody else to work 24/7 for myself.” Business priorities are focused on sales, cash flow, customer retention, and employee engagement. Personal priorities, as a startup founder, should be focused on what you can do every day that will drive the most ROI back to your business. You should also get in the habit of taking care of yourself. You ARE your business, and your business CANNOT run without you. There is a point in every startup scaling journey when you probably want to quit. IT IS HARD!!!! And a lot of us end up burnt out … or worse. So, get in the habit as soon as possible to schedule your own priorities and self-care … and re-read Point #2 in this article!
4. Don’t be an ostrich when it comes to budgets and finances
As we mentioned before, most startups don’t have large budgets. To be a successful startup, you need to have a super detailed budget accounting for all the pennies. Your budget is the most important thing when it comes to being successful, so the cleaner, tighter, and more balanced it is, the better off you’ll be from the start. Your budget should account for all aspects of your business – not favoring one party over the other. You cannot be an ostrich when it comes to this and put your head in the sand. You need to confront your finances right from the start. If you have a planned system going into the growth stage, budgets and finances won’t be so scary (or so expensive to fix!).
5. Nurture your network
Creating a network of loyal followers who will purchase from you and then go and tell their followers is a lot harder than it sounds – especially for a startup. Oftentimes, people don’t know about you, your brand, or what you’re selling, so it can be hard to gain traction on social media. Use your platforms to tell the world about yourself, your story, your brand, and the products or services you sell. This is the best way to reach millions of people without having to spend thousands of dollars on advertising. But be consistent and be AUTHENTIC. Don’t reach out to people and ask for something immediately. Be helpful first. Then ask for a favor second. The best brands and businesses are the ones with the most loyal and engaged networks.