More people than ever before are thinking about starting their own businesses. Perhaps you have already tested out a few ideas but failed or you are currently building a company. Founding a business is a long and challenging journey, at times filled with frustration, doubt and disappointment. However, these crucial tips for starting a business can make the journey a little less stressful and lead to greater success.
1. Be tenacious.
You see failures as opportunities to improve. Despite receiving hundreds of rejections, you keep going, because you know that there will eventually be a yes. If that sounds like you, then you may have what it takes to be an entrepreneur━tenacity.
Some of today’s most successful people heard “no” hundreds of times before someone finally said “yes”. No one succeeds every time, especially in their first attempt. Harry Potter author J.K. Rowling received tons of rejection letters from publishers before one of them said yes. Before founding the e-commerce giant Amazon, Jeff Bezos tried to develop an online auction site called zShops. It utterly failed.
Tenacity doesn’t mean that you blindly push forward without absorbing sound advice. Sometimes, there are bad ideas that won’t work no matter how much time and effort you put into building them. Instead, tenacity helps you learn from those bad ideas, so that you can have brilliant ones later. Here are a few ways that you can use tenacity to build your company:
- When an investor rejects your pitch, ask if they would be willing to give feedback. Some will offer honest advice that can be hard to swallow but will make your business better in the long-run.
- Ask customers for feedback when they decide to leave your business.
2. Build a community.
Before you can build a successful business, you need to build a strong community. For example, when it comes to finding capital for your startup, investors rarely invest in cold pitches. If you’re introduced to them by someone they respect and trust, they are more likely to hear what you have to say. If you want to get press for your launch, it will be a lot easier if you already have a relationship with someone that works for a media outlet.
Build relationships before you reach the point where you need or are even ready to ask for support. People are more likely to help someone when there is a pre-existing relationship and foundation of trust.
3. Find a mentor (or several).
Within the communities that you build, there should be one, if not several mentors. You can’t do everything on your own. Mentors are incredibly valuable sources of business knowledge and can even connect you to people in their own networks who can help develop your company.
If that doesn’t convince you, then this fact may: 70 percent of small businesses run by mentored owners live 5 years or more. That is more than twice the longevity of those without mentors.
4. Know your market.
Oftentimes, startups fail even if they have an innovative idea. Why? Because the founder didn’t have the necessary knowledge of the market to enter it successfully. Knowing your market reduces risk and can improve your overall product. Some key factors you need to know are:
- Who are your competitors?
- How saturated is your market?
- Who is going to buy your product?
The takeaway: Don’t enter markets in which you have no experience or knowledge. It wouldn’t make sense for someone with a background in marketing but no experience at all in healthcare to launch a Health IT startup. Unless, they had strong experience in technology or a strong co-founder or founding team that had expertise in healthcare and the industry.
5. Focus on customers and traction.
Traction is a startup’s way of showing credibility. When you have traction, that is when media channels want to feature you, investors want to connect with you and customers ask you about your product first. Traction can take many forms. The primary one is customers. If you can show that there is a need and interest for your product or service and that people are willing to pay for it, then you become instantly more appealing.
If you decide to bootleg your startup or get seed funding without having traction, you still need to think about it. Eventually, you’re going to need revenue. There are countless ways that you can get traction. (Reddit got a lot of it after venture capitalist and computer scientist Paul Graham wrote an article. Airbnb used Craigslist to find some of their first rental hosts.)
However, remember that you need to first have a product that people want to engage with or buy before you can have traction. Growing a company can be stressful and exhausting, but when the pieces finally all come together, it can be incredibly fulfilling. For more resources and help growing your business, reach out to us at StartUPLabs.