These days, it seems as though everyone has a burning desire to unleash their entrepreneurial spirit by starting their own company. For many, becoming a startup founder has an irresistible allure. However, the path to success is full of treacherous pitfalls, resulting in 90% of all startups failing.
Here are 5 things new startups should learn from successful entrepreneurs:
Take risks and be willing to fail
Entrepreneurs take risks because they know that no business idea can become a glorious reality without a robust willingness to put everything on the line. However, it’s crucial to try to anticipate any possible results so you can have contingency plans in place.
General George Patton had these words of advice: “Take calculated risks. That is quite different from being rash”.
Visionary business owners love to take risks because it’s a terrific way to differentiate themselves from competitors. Too many would-be entrepreneurs kill their innovative ideas by settling for mediocrity because it’s safer. The business visionaries who ended up being resoundingly successful forever changed the way things were always done.
These out-of-the-box thinkers took lots of risks to realize their ambitions, and you should too. You’re going to fail a zillion times before you succeed, so don’t let the fear of failure prevent you from making your entrepreneurial dream come true.
Never stop networking
The benefits of building a solid business network are incalculable. Often, people think of networking as something to do after their business is up and running. However, networking during the startup stage makes launching an enterprise infinitely easier.
Networking allows you to hone your communication skills to a razor-sharp point. This is an ability that’ll come in handy when it’s time to woo investors with your brilliant business idea.
Connecting with other entrepreneurs helps you meet people who can serve as future mentors. It also gives you a much-needed psychological boost when the going gets tough.
Networking enables you to build a presence in your local business community. People want to work with those they know, and networking is a powerful way to create that trust.
Networking can be a fantastic way to build a robust customer base. People you meet at networking events can put you in touch with individuals who are eager to buy what you’re selling. The powerful exponential effect of forging connections this way shouldn’t be underestimated and is one of the best ways to get referrals.
Set aside time
To make networking work for you, you'll need to set aside time to do it. During the startup phase of your business, there's so much to do. This means that networking can fall by the wayside.
Don't let this happen because networking should be a cornerstone of any business strategy. Schedule time each day to connect with others on social media, and make it a goal to attend one in-person event every week.
By doing that, you’ll discover which networking events and organizations are the most valuable. Then, you’ll be able to eliminate the ones that aren’t beneficial.
Attending networking events
Don't go to a networking event without clear goals of what you want to accomplish at them. Meeting investors and connecting with potential customers are two different goals and require two different strategies and two completely different types of events.
When you attend a networking event, bring business cards and exude plenty of positivity. Focus on listening more than talking, and instead of thinking about ways others can help you, think about how you can help others.
Don’t monopolize anyone’s time, and get contact information from those you want to follow up with. Send out emails a week or two after an event to those with whom you wish to continue to network. This is how you forge the relationships that will help you build a successful company.
Never stop learning
Ask any successful entrepreneur what the secret to success is, and many of them will tell you to keep on learning. For startup founders, learning doesn’t end once you leave university. It’s a continual process, and you should be gaining knowledge from every encounter, situation, and experience you have.
Forget everything you know about natural-born entrepreneurs. Even if there's such a thing as innate talent, you'll still have to acquire knowledge if you want to succeed. The ability to learn and take advice from others separates the wildly successful from the merely mediocre.
This includes the ability to learn from your mistakes. Say you want formal educational opportunities to explore. In that case, you can do everything from attending industry conferences to taking courses taught by leaders in your industry.
Fixed vs. growth mindsets
Dr. Carol Dweck describes the different approaches to learning in her book “Mindset: The New Psychology of Success.” She places people on a continuum according to their understanding of where ability comes from.
Some say their success arises strictly from innate talent. Dweck sees these individuals as having a fixed mindset. Other people believe their success comes from hard work, perseverance, and learning. These persons have a growth mindset.
People with a fixed mindset aren’t receptive to learning new things. This is one mistake that could be detrimental to your ability to be an industry leader. Hire team members who constantly strive to learn new things and encourage them to develop their knowledge and skills.
Unhappy customers are your best teachers
You also need to learn the lessons disgruntled clients can teach you. Bill Gates says, "Your most unhappy customers are your greatest source of learning." By constructively listening to their complaints, you’ll be able to understand product flaws. This helps you improve them.
Many of us go into business not only to make money but to also make people happy. That's why even one unsatisfied customer can feel like you’ve just been dealt a death blow. Studies have shown that criticism is much more deeply felt than praise.
We need to reframe how we think about unhappy buyers because they can be a treasure trove of actionable insights into better ways of doing business. Negative feedback from disgruntled customers gives you a precious gift: more opportunities to improve your offerings than a happy client ever could.
Understand your industry
To experience long-term business success, you’ll have to become intimately familiar with industry trends. This will help prevent you from becoming a dinosaur who hangs on to old-fashioned ways of doing business long after they cease to be relevant.
For example, in the heyday of the compact disc, many companies failed to comprehend how digital music would disrupt the industry and subsequently watched their enterprises crumble into dust.
Here are some tips and tricks to stay in the loop:
SEMINARS AND CONFERENCES: Every industry and niche has regularly scheduled conferences and workshops where people gather together to discuss the latest industry trends.
DISCUSSION BOARDS AND FORUMS: Check out the groups and discussions on LinkedIn to stay abreast of what’s going on in your sector.
BLOGS: Subscribe to blogs in your area of expertise to get other people’s perspectives on the exciting things happening in your industry.
ONLINE WEBINARS: This is yet another way to stay in the loop with industry trends you need to know.
NEWSLETTERS: Subscribe to newsletters put out by experts, institutions of higher learning, and consulting firms that offer substantive information about exciting developments in your niche. Harvard Business publishes a particularly informative one.
Strive to be an innovator
To keep your company relevant, you’re going to need to come up with a steady stream of fresh new ideas. In business, this is known as innovation, and it plays a vital role in the life of any enterprise.
Innovation allows you to carve out your own unique identity in a crowded market. As such, it helps differentiate your company from a sea of competitors. The best innovators look at problems differently from everyone else. That way, they come up with solutions others struggled to arrive at.
By harnessing the power of innovation, you can offer your customers something extraordinary—products and services that never before existed in physical form on this planet.
Innovation needs to be deeply embedded into your enterprise and should be an integral part of your company’s culture and day-to-day operations.
To foster innovation in your organization, form multidisciplinary growth teams. These are groups of employees who are constantly looking for new ways to innovate. Members should come from many different departments to provide your team with the divergent thinking it needs to be innovative.
However, innovation shouldn’t be solely relegated to your growth teams. Give every employee the time and space for innovation, and let everyone know that you value ingenuity above all else. This means allowing team members to pursue passion projects.
For years, Google had a “20% time” policy where the company encouraged employees to devote 20% of their time to side projects. This resulted in an impressive number of innovations, including Gmail and Google AdSense.
The best advice for new startups
As a startup, one of the best things you can do is to outsource your hiring efforts by hiring a recruiting firm with the keen expertise, cutting edge technology, and extensive industry contacts to give you a steady stream of high-caliber candidates.
Hunt Club is one such firm. We’ll help you build a pipeline that’ll provide your company with the talent it needs to scale.