These days, it seems like everyone is starting their own business. But why do some startups seem to succeed while others fail embarrassingly?
While there is no “right” way to start a business, experts can agree on a handful of best practices.
The glamour of running a startup is really only skin deep. In a world where entrepreneurs are rock stars and Silicon Valley is their Hollywood, they really do make it look easy.
However, many people aren’t aware of the nuances and challenges that entrepreneurs face every day. If you want to make it big and succeed, you have to know how to overcome them.
Here are the best lessons from successful entrepreneurs you’ll find helpful.
Setting a goal is the key to sustained progress, particularly when it comes to entrepreneurship. Any startup pioneer will tell you this. However, in terms of business startups, one size certainly does not fit all.
Picking the goals that will work for you is deeply personal but there is one question you can ask yourself before starting out:
“What is the enduring purpose of the venture?”
We know that successful businesses aren’t built overnight and very rarely does the initial vision remain 5 or 10 years down the line. While setting goals and actually meeting them are two different stories, learning the skills to set realistic goals that work for you is key.
- How do I want my company to look like in 10 years?
- How can I tweak my current goals to fit that vision?
- Am I flexible enough to allow for shifting priorities?
Knowing your own goals and limits helps build perspective for future ventures.
Richard Branson, CEO of Virgin Group, identified that the success of the group as a whole required a recognition of previous failures. Back in 1994, Branson launched Virgin Cola, disrupting the soda market and shaking Coca-Cola to its core.
With the product not giving consumers a radically different experience or even a much better value, Branson realized that his own previous successes were clouding his self-awareness. He figured that the solution was to go back to the company’s strengths.
Today, Virgin Group remains strong because it focused on what it does best.
For many startup founders, the help they received in the early stages of their business came from their current group of connections. Maintaining your network is key to getting the support you need to make it to the next stage.
Here’s what you can do:
- Post frequent but quantifiable updates on social media.
- Congratulate your contacts for their success.
- Introduce contacts to potential clients or partners.
- Offer suggestions and help the people in your network in their own business ventures.
Being sensitive and assisting others on their own journey to success can give you a different and unique perspective on your own journey. Just because someone else is succeeding does not mean you are failing.
Developing networking skills is, of course, a large part of success in the startup world but it’s easier said than done. You need to know how to make strategic plans as necessary.
- Search for events that will grow your perspective and challenge you. Don’t be afraid to think outside the box.
- Face-to-face communication skills can always be honed and developed.
- Maintain open networks when possible, especially for potential clients, partners, and investors.
Don’t let your focus linger on others for too long. You still need to make strategic decisions for yourself.
For Chris Buttenham, co-founder and CEO of Tasytt, picking out the right contacts and networking events is key to keeping your eyes on the prize. Buttenham says that he “does his homework” beforehand and only attends networking events that he has a particular “ask” for.
The final lesson is simply to know yourself. Gaining and maintaining self-awareness is important for keeping a level head, learning from past failures, and keeping perspective.
Personality and aptitude tests are not a perfect science. However, they can give you a new perspective of yourself that can help make or break your business.
- Myers-Briggs, widely accepted as a reliable way to track personality traits, can help you get a clearer idea of your work habits, decision-making skills, and critical thinking.
- Learn to suspend traits that are incompatible with your environment, such as inflexibility or hasty decision-making.
- Open-mindedness and an appreciation for diversity open doors for different perspectives that could result in success.
Even in the very early stages, tracking the movement of your startup will help for larger decisions down the line.
- Value all feedback, both negative and positive, equally.
- Track results of key decisions and use that to piggyback on other decisions.
- Reflect on successes and failures frequently and identify patterns.
- Analyze qualitative and quantitative results.
Do you have what it takes to start your own business?
Take a look at this infographic to learn more about the habits of successful startup founders and what they have to say about success, failure, and everything in between.
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Author: Brian Wallace
Infographics scholar, Founder of @NowSourcing. Columnist @cmswire | @sejournal, @GoogleSmallBiz advisor, #thinkbig activist