By Arman Sadeghi
Airbnb and Zenefits are some of the success stories that inspire modern startups, but were there any particular startup tips they followed to ensure success?
These companies began as a startup with ideas – ideas to make the lives of their customers easier and at reasonable costs, and within no time they grew to the giants they are today. But this is only one piece of the puzzle. Business owners and startups alike, are realizing that the successful growth of their business is not just based on their great ideas or superior product quality, but on their ability to attract and retain paying customers. So, to achieve successful and sustainable growth, these 5 startup tips will set you on the right path.
1. Don’t Spend On Unnecessary Infrastructure
How many times have you heard the adage “you have to spend money to make money”? What they don’t tell you is that this only works if you spend money on the right things. You need a proper foundation and good working systems to grow and expand easier and faster. Things like getting your lead generation, accounting, and internet connectivity right will save you future headaches.
However, when starting out, there are expenses you need to avoid. For example, instead of focusing on hiring staff, it may be better to allocate your resources to securing reliable outsourcing partners. Get freelancers to work on your projects rather than hiring full time employees.
Another unnecessary expense is office space. If you can work remotely or from a home office, this can save you costs which you can apply elsewhere. While the lease cost is the main overhead you will be paying out, offices come with additional expenses such as maintenance, utility costs, parking fees, and insurance costs.
2. Ensure Each Member “Owns” A Part of the Business
One of the driving forces that propel people to move from employment to business ownership, is that sense of owning something. When you are working for something you own, you tend to be more passionate, more productive, and more driven to achieving positive results.
As a business owner, you want to tap into the passions and dedication of all other members of the startup. Your co-founders, employees, advisors, and financiers, all need to believe in your business and pool their resources to attain successful growth.
One of the ways of ensuring “ownership” is by distributing equity in a way that is both fair and logical. You should discard the notion of even distribution as this complicates decision-making and slows down growth.
Apart from equity distribution, you can also give responsibility according to ability and strengths rather than giving job descriptions to employees according to qualifications. What this means is members are given authority to come up with ideas, work on them, and build them to fruition.
This model differs from a job description where the employee reports to work and is given a set of tasks to perform with deadlines to adhere to. When members own their ideas and have a more or less free hand to execute them, there is a deep sense of ownership.
3. Document Activity and Build Systems
One great fear for most entrepreneurs is having their ideas and designs stolen, or having to compete with former partners and employees. Subsequently, they tend to keep their cards close to their chest, and the business grinds to a halt any time the owner is not around to run things.
A better way to run your startup is to create systems that will keep all processes running even in your absence. This is where a professional startup business coach may be useful, as they will teach you methods to protect your valuable designs and ideas by automating processes such as accounting, marketing, research & development, human resource management, and customer care systems.
Apart from creating systems to automate your processes, you need to properly and securely document activity. The most important reason for activity documentation is that it keeps your business on track and reduces distractions. Documenting startup activity provides sets of instructions on how to perform your internal processes. This creates uniformity, improves efficiency, and eliminates waste. Documentation also creates synergy, as all your members will be focused on moving in the same direction and achieve goals faster.
4. Invest More Time Than You Think You Need To
The concept of making millions out of four-hour-workweeks, as Tim Ferriss puts it in his best-selling book, is tempting for anyone going into business. However, even Tim recognizes that in the initial stages of a startup, the business owner should be prepared to spend more time than they originally thought they would need to.
The truth is, that the amount of time it takes to lead a starting/growing business may actually be much more than the 9 to 5 of regular employment, due to the new and seemingly endless challenges faced day to day. It’s well known that one of the reasons owners spend more time working in the early stages of their startup, is because they have to “wear many hats”, and do the job that large corporations employ a handful or more people to perform. A startup owner may have to manage human resources, project expenditures and revenues, turn on the marketing charm, respond to customer care queries, and vacuum up the office all on the same day. The unpredictable constant switching of roles takes up lots of time and energy.
Don’t fall into the time management black-hole. Recognize early on that the growth of your startup takes a lot up-front. Factor that in to ensure success later on.
5. Network, Network, Network
When starting a new business venture or even running an existing one, one of the most important facets is your network. Your network will help you raise capital, attract the right clientele, open up marketing channels, and provide discounts on supplies.
Even if you are unknown in the industry and in the geographical location of your business, there are many ways you can create valuable networks and leverage these networks for business success.
- Join a startup accelerator such as Y Combinator, and benefit from the expertise of mentors, coaches, and industry leaders.
- Attend startup meetups on Meetup.com for a chance to engage other business owners and potential investors in your local area.
- Comment on relevant articles, blogs, and social media posts in groups online that are relevant to your niche. Opinionated discussions on industry-specific credible online forums also gets your name out there and attracts like-minded people.
Sweet, Sweet Startup Success
To ensure the successful growth of your business startup, you need an edge – tips from people in the industry that can have you achieve long-term, sustained growth – while keeping true to your core mission and values. It’s a dog-eat-dog world in the realm of startup business in America, so start off on the right foot with these tips, and who knows, you could weel be the next Uber…
Arman Sadeghi is the Author of The Business Bible and a keynote speaker. He is a serial entrepreneur who has started over a dozen businesses and specializes in business coaching and helping business executives with peak performance. He holds a neurobiology degree from UC Berkeley and attended Harvard Medical School for two years. @