There you stand right now — the enthusiastic entrepreneur with a great product idea at the threshold of your first project. You are probably dreaming about launching and growing a successful startup.
But did you know ?
A great product idea alone doesn’t guarantee startup success. Heck, even an awesome idea backed by a talented technical team is by no means a guarantee of sustainable growth.
It takes a lot more than THAT to be successful in business.
What’s this “lot more”? Well, continue reading to find out.
Successful startups don’t ignore anything
Here’s a cold fact that every eager enthusiastic must know — 9 out of 10 startups will fold up prematurely. In other words, ninety percent of new ventures, despite the founding team’s profile, experience and original idea, end up failing.
But here’s the thing. Such hard stats are not meant to discourage you from pursuing your dreams, but rather to encourage you to work smarter.
The very first thing that entrepreneurs who go on to build sustainable businesses do is not ignore ANYTHING.
As a startup, your team can’t segment responsibilities in neat packages. Startups just don’t have that kind of luxury. The CEO can’t think, “My responsibility is to lead.” The head developer can’t think, “My job starts and ends with coding.” The CMO can’t think, “I’m here to focus only on marketing.”
Compared to an established business, things are considerably more organic in startups. This means roles overlap, sometimes on a regular basis. Small things, if not attended to immediately, can snowball into big, complex problems that become difficult to handle.
Successful entrepreneurs intuitively understand they need to work on their business —and not in it. They need to focus on the heart of their business instead of getting entangled in the small, trivial details of meetings, presentations, emails, and phone calls.
They need to manage the day to day business activities without losing the big picture.
Successful businesses grow fast
A single-digit growth is not good enough for startups. In fact, often it heralds their premature end.
Surprised? Don’t be.
Lack of cash is one of the main reasons why startups close-up shop. Slow, even mediocre, growth rate is not enough to secure more funding. And that means succumbing to some of the most common startup killers — losing clients, losing to your competition, and losing talented employees.
If you want to take your startup to the next level, grow fast. Faster the better.
Rapid growth is what investors want. That’s proof enough that you’ve got an awesome idea and that there’s a strong demand for what you’re selling.
Even if your venture is far from profitable yet, don’t worry too much about profits during the early stages. Rather, make sure you double your sales and marketing efforts and aim to consistently acquire new customers, new subscribers, more traffic, more referrals and ultimately more revenues. “High growth” is the keyword here. Profits will come later.
Successful entrepreneurs find themselves the right mentors
Did you know mentored startups record 3.5 times better growth rate and raise 7 times more money?
When you think about it, this couldn’t be otherwise.
Entrepreneurs get pulled up in several directions. It is easy to lose focus of the most important components — business model, business process, and scalability. The right mentor can help you steer your venture in the often uncharted and unpredictable business landscape and find your way to success. No less importantly, a good mentor can help you focus on the most important aspects of your business and invest your time wisely. It is easy to waste your time and energy on unimportant tasks that seem important.
If it is difficult to find the right mentor, don’t worry. The internet has forever changed how people interact and communicate with each other. You have many options to get mentorship value by doing one of the following:
Follow your favorite successful entrepreneur or business coach on social media. They often share tips and advice that you can follow on the go.
Go on Amazon and purchase the latest book (or E-book) from your favorite business author or a leading subject matter expert in your field and start reading. Nothing replaces receiving coaching better than reading. You can stand on the shoulder of giants by reading their books that often contain distilled wisdom produced by their long experience in business.
Get virtual coaching. The world post Covid-19 is quite different when it comes to conducting meetings and doing business in general. By using tools like Zoom or Skype, you can easily connect to any coach anywhere in the world and anytime. Physical travelling is no longer a necessity and people are starting to get used to conducting meetings, trainings and sorting other business matters remotely using the power of videoconferencing.
To cut a long story short, your mentor can provide you with a roadmap with better chances of success. Make sure you follow the advice of one or multiple mentors. They will save you a lot of time and money as you learn from their experience and past mistakes.
Successful entrepreneurs make products that others want
You’re not going to get far selling air coolers to Eskimos, even if you make the best air conditioners in the world. Therefore, make sure your idea is not only great but also marketable.
According to latest market reports, a whopping 42% of new businesses fail because there was no market for their products.
So before you invest time and money in making a product, make sure there’s enough demand for it.
Business experts often talk about the concept of “product-market fit”. This concept simply means that you need to build a product or service that meets the demand of the market. This is often more difficult than it sounds. But there are a number of steps you can take to increase your chances, here’s how:
Identify your potential target customers
Segment your audience into buying personas
Create an MVP (Minimum Viable Product)
Test your MVP with your segmented audience
Evaluate the results and improve the MVP based on the findings
Re-iterate the process until your customers’ demand is satisfied by your product or solution
Once your product has achieved product-market fit, it is time to ramp up production and fully launch your business.
Successful entrepreneurs persist and know how to recover
As a startup, you have a greater chance of success if your core team is versatile.
However, “being versatile” doesn’t just mean possessing multiple talents or skills. In a startup environment, versatility has a much broader meaning. It entails much more than an employee’s skill set. It entails mindset. It means flexibility, adaptability and resilience.
Startup teams need to have the ability to recover from blows, to adjust fast to changes and to come through hard times stronger.
Teams that have great versatility respond to challenges better, be it a need to change products, to rebrand the whole business, to try out new compensation plans, or to follow a completely new marketing approach.
Research shows having one or more co-founders may also help. Companies with co-founders may boast a better success rate than single-person businesses. Perhaps that’s because there’s more accountability when there are multiple leaders. Also, a co-founder is likely to bring in those skills that you lack.
Being prepared to rise up following every new setback is one of the key factors that explain business success. According to Napoleon Hill, this “persistence” is one of the pillars behind massively successful empires he studied closely when writing his famous book “Think and Grow Rich”. He cites the great stories of John D. Rockefeller, Thomas Edison and Henry Ford as testimonies to the power of persistence.
In 2006, Time Magazine conducted a survey of the Fortune 50 CEOs and found that tenacity, which is another word for persistence, is the greatest explanation for success.
So now you know what to do. Be prepared to face obstacles and challenges, this is going to be part of your journey as an entrepreneur and business leader. You will get knocked down, there is no escape from this. The key is to stand up again and again and fight your way through adversity. Persevere in your quest to build a successful business.
Successful startups involve customers in their innovation efforts
Unconstrained innovation may sound exciting — but it rarely, if ever, brings business success. That’s because innovation without any framework typically leads to irrelevant or impractical inventions.
Does this mean your company should stop innovating?
Hell, no. That’s a sure shot way of becoming redundant, not successful. What you should focus on is involving your customers in your innovations. This makes sense since they are the ones for whom you are innovating in the first place.
Successful startups ensure their product improvements responds to customer needs. They work closely with their customers to understand their pain points and then innovate accordingly. In short, they offer solutions their customers seek and more importantly, they seek constant feedback from them in order to improve their products or services.
The Japanese have invented a business concept called “Kaizen”. Kaizen means constant and never-ending improvement. Top Japanese brands such as Toyota or Sony are famous for adopting the Kaizen method for improving their processes, products and services.
You too should adopt the Kaizen methodology. Use your customer’s feedback to identify areas of improvement on a continual basis. Ask your clients for suggestions, involve them in future iterations of your product or service and put their needs on top of your priorities.
In the end, your customers are the ultimate reason behind your company’s success, and it is their experience of whatever you are offering that counts the most. By involving your customers, you not only improve your offering, but you also generate brand loyalty. Brand loyalty means your happy customers become promoters of your company. You can’t ask for a better end result.
Successful startups have the right people
Having the right people is another major pillar of startup and business success. Ask any investor or venture capital firm about the most important factors they use to determine if an opportunity is worth investing in and they will surely cite people as one of the answers.
The reason is quite simple. Startups and companies are the result of a founder’s and his team’s creative thinking and activities. By investing in a company, a financial sponsor is really investing in the people behind that company.
It is ultimately the imagination, efforts and decisions of the key people behind a company that make or break its success.
Therefore, even if you have the best idea in the world, you cannot go anywhere without having the right team on board. This is what Napoleon Hill calls the Mastermind. A successful startup is first and foremost the result of a fruitful collaboration between highly qualified people with a common ambitious vision and a commitment to achieve excellence. A successful venture is the result of serious teamwork where each member of the team is an active contributor and where the value of the group exceeds the sum of the parts.
Having the right team on board can unlock tremendous synergies and unleash a creative, collaborative force that can take your company from modest beginnings to massive success.
Do not hesitate in investing time and effort in searching, interviewing, recruiting and training the right people needed for your startup. Finding top managers and employees is certainly not easy but the reward is well worth the efforts. Your startup success depends on it.
To sum it up, several factors can improve your chances of success. Having a product that serves a need helps, as does not ignoring anything. Innovating smartly — that is, by keeping customers’ pain points in mind — also goes a long way in building a sustainable business. Some other important factors are being resilient and versatile, working under a mentor, and growing at a fast rate. Last but not the least, do not neglect human resources. Finding and hiring the right people allows you to build a strong team conducive to a collaborative environment, and this is vital for business success.