You can pick it up when you’re turning profits. Starting you’re own company is harder than anything you’ve ever done. Anything. Twenty page business plans, fancy office space and check lists of essential qualities aren’t worth a damn. Getting you’re startup off the ground and surviving year one is a battle of wills.
Here are 5 things you must do to have your startup headed for year two.
1. Have a clear understanding of your why
Profit margins and marketing plans will be ever changing. I can’t stress how important it is to have a clear understanding of why you are starting you’re business. What is the change you want to create? Based on what beliefs? Know what you stand for and what you’re willing to fight for. That’s how you’ll build your brand and a hardcore customer base. WATCH: Simon Sinek’s rockstar TED Talk.
2. Grind your face off
Office hours, days off, and vacations don’t exist. Make it a point to return any emails or calls within an hour. Work around the clients schedule, not your-own. If someone is on the fence and they can’t meet for a few days tell them you will drive to their house or hire a babysitter for their kids. The more time they have, the less chance you have. I have grad students take the metro to our local stop and I go pick them up. If it doesn’t compromise your brands values you should be doing it.
3. Best is a luxury entrepreneurs can’t afford
Learn to live w/ good enough. The clock is always ticking and you’re ability to make quick (not rash) decisions will play a vital role in how quickly your company grows. The font on your website and whether you should use tweetdeck or hootsuite (go w/ hootsuite) should be made in a matter of minutes. Make a decision, move on, adjust as necessary.
4. Are you picking up, what I’m putting down
Sell, sell, sell, then sell some more. I know, Entrepreneurs (myself included) aren’t in it for the money, it’s about creating a greater change. You’re not going to be changing a damn thing if people aren’t using your service or buying your product. And I’ve never heard of any VC dumping money into a startup w/out seeing a PROVEN sales track (note: this has changed since originally posting).
5. Avoid the hype
This is the fastest way to kill your startup. You’ve gained a little steam, started reading all kinds of articles about other startups and their successes. Then it happens; you come crashing into a brick wall. You start believing a little momentum and a few sales will have you landing on Inc.’s 30 under 30.
It’s important for you to read as much as you can and understand who the big players in your industry are, but as soon as you catch yourself reading success story after success story run the other way! It’s not the Inc. 30,000 under 30 for a reason.
Survive year one, fight for every inch, that’s how you create change.
Disclaimer: I originally wrote this as a guest post on a blog that no-longer exists. I’m posting it here because I believe in what I wrote and didn’t want this message to be tossed away.