How to Launch a Successful Startup
What makes a new business
succeed? Success needs more
than just your best efforts, but other
elements to blend in together and
work in your favor. Here are 12
factors that are important in
creating and building a successful
start up business:
You start a business with the hope
of seeing it succeed. You put a lot
of passion, time, money and
resources to the business --
whether your goal is for your
business to become the next
buzzword or to just earn enough to
support your family.
Sometimes your new business succeeds, and sometimes it fails despite all your hard work and efforts.
1. Have a long-term vision: Develop a clear short and long term vision for
your business. Your vision will give you purpose and help you keep focused on what you want the business to achieve. Without vision, your business cannot prosper and grow because you are reduced to keeping things the way they have always been.
The power of your vision and your devotion to it work to inspire others-- who, sensing purpose and commitment, respond. Your vision will help your clients understand what you and your business stand for, and keep your employees and investors (if any) focused on your goals. Then set your strategies and your goals, clearly specifying a definitive time plan for achieving it.
2. Hire the best people and manage them well. For a solo entrepreneur, you are your own business. Run your business with aplomb, but do not forget to take care of yourself as well. Nourish your personal self, spend time with family and friends, and congratulate yourself for all the little milestones you achieve as you start your business.
Even as a solo entrepreneur, you may need some outside assistance e.g. virtual assistant to help with day-to-day tasks, accountants for bookkeeping and tax preparation, or even a web developer. When choosing outside contractors, always go for quality and not necessarily the price. You should only focus on the best for your business, even though that might not be the cheapest.
But as your business grow, you will be faced with the enormous task of hiring and managing other people. The quality of your team will spell a huge difference in the success or failure of your business. In fact, many successful entrepreneurs consider the quality of people as key to success. Find people who share your passion and vision for what you want to accomplish with the business. Look for people who are ready to fully commit themselves to your business.
Then work hard to keep your good people. Make them feel that their contributions to your business are important. Invest in your people, and they will appreciate working for your company.
3. Keep your focus. In today's tough and highly competitive environment, focus is a key ingredient to the success of your business. It is important to identify and concentrate on making the unique aspects of your business as superb as possible.
Be clear what your business stands for, and stick to it. You don't have to grab all opportunities that come your way or try to do too much too quickly. Keep your eyes on the prize and spend your resources, time and energy in focusing on the attainment of your goals -- running and developing a successful, profitable and viable business. Every day, your focus should be on how to further enhance your business.
4. Innovate; dont duplicate. Even in the midst of success stories (think successful Web 2.0 startups), it is important to do your thing. Think differently and resist the urge to be a clone. Sometimes when you hear a
success story, the instinct is to copy them outright and hope that youll enjoy the same success as they are having.
Your business is unique, and the factors that worked for others may not be present in your situation. Instead of copying others, differentiate yourself through your concept or presentation. You may be offering the same products, but clearly define your unique selling proposition to help users see your business apart from your competitors. This is how Joost, the p2p on demand video player that offers professional programming, differentiates itself from YouTube. PlentyofFish.com and Match.com are both dating sites, but their business models are vastly different with the former free and the latter a paid service.
5. Keep realistic expectations. Starting a business is not easy. You've
heard the statistics that 80 percent of all small businesses fail within five years yet you think that yours is going to be different. Good for you to have that kind of optimism! But don't forget for a minute that making money is hard, period. For some, it even takes up to a month, or worse, even six months before they even get a sale!
If you're making a business plan, think and re-think the assumptions that you are using. Are you really going to have that much sales in the first year? Are your marketing strategies and manpower resources aligned to support your sales number? Are you clear about the risks and stumbling blocks your business may face? Revenues are not going to come instantly, and customers are not going to be banging on your door immediately. Despite your best hopes, the reality may be different, and you'll fare much better to know it - and keep it in front of you - beforehand.
6. Have a clear understanding of the market and your competition.
Businesses do not operate out of a vacuum, and it is important to learn as
much as you can about the industry, the market and the players. Market
climate, user trends, technology innovation, even the economy, can all
affect how your company does and who it attracts You need to recognize
competitive threats and opportunities; in order to give you time to prepare
contingencies for either.
By understanding the market, you will be forced to maintain a market-focus.
It is important to know how you fit in and what your competitive advantage
and core competencies are. Ask yourself what unique services/products do you bring to the table that is not easily replicable.
7. Run your business lean. Keep your expenses and spending as lean as
you can for as long as you can. It is important that you dont spend what you dont have! You dont need a fancy office at the start of your business, or an office space in the high-rise tower in downtown. If you can hold off hiring that additional programmer or administrative assistant, then save your resources instead.
Avoid the mistake of spending what you think will come in remember, payment can be delayed, or worse, the money may not even come in at all. Youll be stuck with all the bills but without the money to pay for them, and that could spell the end of your business. Spend only what is absolutely necessary and forego things that are not critical to your current operations.
8. Get the right partners. Bringing in a third party into the business whether as a business partner or investor is one of the most important business decisions you will make. Like marriage, if you choose the wrong one, your business can be in a lot of trouble and it will be a pain to work with them.
With a business partner, determine first the compatibility of your mindsets and entrepreneurial styles. It is important that you share the same vision with a potential partner. Find one that complements your knowledge and expertise, even one who may be smarter than you. Before you jump in and take the partner into the business, get to know each other; you dont want a situation where you cant stand working with the other person just a month into the partnership.
Most important of all, never ever start the partnership without any signed agreements at all. Have a clear partnership agreement, including a buy-sell agreement in the event you or the partner wants out of the business. Even the closest of relationships and friendships end badly when business partnerships turn sour.
9. Develop a culture of success in your organization. Business success and your work culture are linked tightly together. The way you do things in your business must be conducive to success and this requires a strong leadership and focus.
The culture of a business is set through the owners leadership what is acceptable and not acceptable to you as well as the basis with which you reward employees. The process by which you, and your employees (if any) do things should be geared towards the attainment of business short and long-term goals. Everyone in your business must be on the same page, whether the task at hand is accounting to selling to developing a brand strategy.
10. Conduct regular business and market review. It is important that you take time to regularly review, revisit and revise your business strategy. Look at changes in the overall economic situation, analyze your industry and determine how and where your business stands.
Your business does not operate in a vacuum, and it is essential that you take time to analyze where opportunities for your business lie. If the assumptions and strategies with which you started the business are no longer applicable, then be flexible enough to modify them and even possibly change your business model.
11. Learn, and keep on learning. Your willingness to learn can play a huge role in your success as an entrepreneur. Whether you think you have the smarts to become a successful entrepreneur, or you have no idea how to become one, continuously educating yourself is important. Keep yourself informed and read -- a lot. Read about stories of other successful entrepreneurs, how to improve yourself and your productivity, and read about what is happening in your industry. Always make time to read books, top blogs, and business and trade publications.
Learning gives you the confidence and inspiration to do things and pursue your vision. It also gives you intelligence into the market, what's happening now, what might happen next. It can also play a really important role in connecting you with other people you need to know in business.
Learning can also take the form of talking to fellow entrepreneurs, and asking for their advice or mentorship support and assistance.
12. Prepare for changes. Be ready to make the shift. When you start the business, the key driver to the success of your startup is your entrepreneurial fortitude. It is your vision, drive and passion that will spur
However, as your business grows, the needs of your business changes and you will require help in developing and executing your vision. Hence, your managerial skills become critical.
Examine your new role when you start growing your business: you may be a great founder, but a poor manager. You need to know how to manage people in conflict, as differences are very likely to come up in any organization. Learn how to shift your role in the business.
Take time to learn and understand how to manage employees. And if you think you are better off doing other things for the business other than managing the staff, hire a professional manager for your business and focus on what you think you do best.
At the end of the day, your goal is to create the best business you can possibly be, and do the best that you can and enjoying the process along the way.