You are convinced that you found THE idea? Even your friends and family told you you are a genius?
That you have to present it to the world as fast as possible? Running a start-up is as risky than trendy.
There are obviously things you need before the big dive. Which lessons you may ask? So here they are.
Have the right team
In my view the team is the most important asset of any start. First: make sure that you have the very best people with you on board with complementary skill sets.
Second: make sure that you are comfortable with your coworkers.
Ideally you have worked together professionally before starting your venture. Just because you are great friends does not mean you will be great business partners. Everyone has a different work style and personality.
Whereas in a large corporation you tend to work with many people, in a start-up you will work with a small number of people — very closely, exposed to more sensitive situations.
If you cannot work well with them this will have a severe impact on your chances of success. Is it for good reason that founder conflicts are one of the main reasons why startups fail.
Know your market and industry
Getting as much information as possible is essential. If you have figured out how a market and industry works before you start your company, you will have more time to focus on product development and sales.
It should not come as a surprise that VCs love founding teams, where at least someone on the team has deep relevant industry experience.
Talk to (potential) customers as early as possible
Every single situation you will meet before launching your company is a potential test phase and everyone must be considered as a potential client. As Steve Blank always says — you need to get out of the building.
Talking to potential customers, understanding their problems, and the potential need for your product/service is crucial. There is just no short cut around that.
Know what your strengths are and invest your time accordingly
While it is true that at a start-up everyone needs to do everything to a certain extent you should aim to do most of the time what you are really good at.
To do so, you need to be very well aware of your own strengths — and weaknesses — and act accordingly.
Do not spend too much time on perfecting the product
While it may make sense from a technical perspective, or even from the perspective of some stakeholders to develop the “perfect system X” or the “ideal feature set Y” think twice, whether it is the right thing for your startup.
If customers really want your product they will be able to cope with certain limitations. Better to put out a half-baked product/service and see whether there is any response in the market than perfecting something behind closed doors that no one actually wants to buy eventually. You’ll save money and energy.
It can harm to be the first
While it is generally probably not the worst idea to be innovative and to use new technology being the first is no guarantee for success.
Sometimes it takes some time before customers, businesses or stakeholders become ready for an idea. Even if you’re idea is very disruptive and could change people’s life, if too niche it doesn’t make sense.
Being the smart second mover that benefits from the groundwork that the first player has done can be a successful strategy, especially when creating a whole new product category.
Have an open feedback culture with your co-founders and team.
Within the founding team, you need a brutally honest feedback culture. This is especially hard when the feedback is not only positive but then the team has to make sure that the feedback is actionable and helpful.
Let go of something that is not working
Once you realize that something is not working, it makes sense to take a step back and evaluate the situation. What are the reasons why something is not working? Are there realistic measures one can take to fix the problems? If not, what are the alternatives?
If an attractive alternative comes along the way it might make sense to jump on board, even if that means giving up the initial plan.
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Starting a business is not an easy task. You will often feel like you are failing and some will say you are. Others will encourage you to go on and you will celebrate victories along the way. Every start-up is unique.
However, the challenges that come with launching your business are not. There is no need to make mistakes others have made before.
Read relevant blogs and books, go to events, network, ask for advice, find mentors. You will be amazed at how supportive others will be.
Read our Business Insurance to put your mind on managing your business rather than worrying about what ifs.
Naming a business is important too. Read our article for more information and tips.
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