Top 7 Lessons Learned for Creating a Successful Startup
For a successful startup introducing a new product or service is a very challenging undertaking. There are many hurdles to cross and many problems to solve for you and your customers.
Some of these are associated with the development of the service or product, whether it be a new piece of hardware or software or even a mobile app. But any successful startup requires adherence to prudent rules.
These seven I have learned, are essential.
Startup Lessons 1: Create a founders team
Create a founders team of two or three people who will be responsible for the concept, direction and fulfillment of the project. In a successful startup co-founders support one-another and build on each others strengths and ideas and compensate for your weaknesses.
If you can’t sell some one else on the value of the opportunity you offer, you will have difficulty selling the venture capitalists and the market.
Startup Lessons 2 :Be sure there is a market
A successful startup defines and addresses a compelling need to be filled. Identify the problem you are planning to solve. Understand how your product is the solution. Be sure users will want YOUR version of the solution and test it often with real people.
Startup Lessons 3: Accept the fact that YOU must sell!
How Much? – That depends on how good a salesman you are which is represented by how you represent yourself, how well you represent your product or service and how well you get to solving the compelling need.
At a minimum you must sell yourself to your co-founder(s). Then you must sell the opportunity to good associates who are willing to align their futures with your dream for less than market pay or a promise of future riches.
Then there are your suppliers, your financial sources, your clients, and perhaps your family. A successful startup requires additional good salesmen later; but, until then, it’s all up to you.
Startup Lessons 4: A failure to plan is a plan to fail.
That may sound trite; and, it is. But, more importantly, it is true.
Make a plan and constantly monitor your progress against it. If you are on track, the plan will comfort you. More likely it will permit you to detect variances early, in time to minimize the damage by the timely making of any necessary correction.
Monitor!-test! question! Recognize when a change is necessary. Be flexible; acknowledge when you are on the wrong track.
A successful startup requires you to prioritize your two most critical assets: the founder(s)’ time and your cash. Spend your time on those activities that MUST BE DONE NOW..
Control your cash miserly. When you are out of cash, you are out of business.
Startup Lessons 5: Find the right people
The right associates, the right customers, the right funding sources. Connect with other people in the industry. They are not likely to have the desire or the ability to steal your great idea, at least not all of them!
Keep a distance between your business and your friends. If a friend is also a business associate, that’s a bonus. But, if a friend is just a friend his critiques are not likely to insure a successful startup.
Startup Lessons 6: Identify and sustain your (potential) competitive advantage.
You will not obtain external funding without one. It may be undisclosed technology, it may be patents it may be a market niche that others are not inclined to nurture. But, a successful startup requires a competitive edge to protect against copy cats.
Startup Lessons 7: Launch at the right time.
Not too soon with an unproven product, not too late. Avoid the temptation to continue endlessly improving the product and ship something, test your assumptions, so you can build & measure & learn – continuously.
Identify the least complex version that is marketable and GO. There will be a continual iteration of improvements following the successful startup.
It is prudent to deliberately withhold some features for later release to keep the copy cats off balance and to ensure you don’t add features to a product that your market research and out of building customer tests have proven no-one wants anyway
What’s Your Lesson?
Think I missed something? Cant believe I ‘ve left it out?! What has your experience been with your startup? Jump In and share your thoughts and comments in the box below.
Simon J Co-Founder of Digital Hinge and a serial entrepreneur with over 17 years spent building 8 businesses in 3 countries and 4 industries. Simon is also an Early Stage Micro Venture & Start-Up Seed Investor. Contact him at simon[at]digitalhinge[dot]com Lean Startup Evangalist. View All Posts By Simon J