Starting a company is not for the faint of heart, especially since most fail within their first few years of existence. The rewards of building a successful venture, however, can make it well worth the sacrifice, hard work, and risk. Having started 17 companies, the following are 17 tips for entrepreneurial success I’ve learned along the way.
1) Do something you love
I only pursue business ideas that truly inspire me…that make me not want to go to sleep at night and have me naturally waking up early in the morning. To succeed in building a company you have to work harder and with greater passion than others in the space or others considering getting in the space. When the hard work and focus come naturally because there’s nothing else you’d rather be doing, it makes the realization of your dreams and achievement of your goals much more likely.
2) Purpose and mission statement
In starting a company you must be clear on your purpose and ability to articulate it in a simple mission statement. Make it about the people you will serve, not your personal aspirations. It should be in successfully accomplishing the former that you will realize the latter.
3) Trust your gut instinct
Succeeding in starting and building companies requires killer instincts. You either have them or you don’t. Go with your gut and pursue it hard. You’ll quickly find out if your instincts are on point. If the signs along the way indicate you’re moving in the right direction, don’t look back, trust your gut and plow full steam ahead.
4) Starting and operating your own company is a lifestyle, not a job.
If you’re considering starting a company as an alternative to taking a job or replacing your current career, beware that having your own company and being employed are two entirely different things. A job consumes part of your time and psyche. To start and build a successful company requires full immersion of your time and envelopes your entire being and psyche. Start with the proper expectations and preparedness for the degree of commitment necessary for success.
5) Consider the possibility of starting and growing your company self-capitalized.
Pare your business idea down to the least common denominator–cause of transactions, drivers of growth and figure out how to start down the path of generating a positive cash flow with whatever you have to work with. If you start to get the results you expected, watch how getting the things you need for growth, including capital, will fall into place. Its the surefire way of proving worthiness of your idea.
6) Start a company only if with great clarity you understand from where the revenue will flow and why.
When I am approached by someone asking for advice on a company they are interested in starting, the first question I ask is: “Walk me through in specifics the process and mechanics of how, from where and why money will land in your bank account?” If there isn’t a concise, clear and realistic answer, its probably not a viable business model.
7) Focus on the idea, not the money needed
On considering starting a business most people tend to be overly focused on raising capital. My advice is focus on the idea. If the idea is right, and you’re the right person to see it to fruition, the money will come.
8) If you have a business partner, make sure there is an equilibrium of passion, commitment, ambition, and willingness/ability to manage stress.
Starting a company with a business partner is like a marriage. You shouldn’t go into a marriage uncertain and you shouldn’t start a company with another person with uncertainty. There have been many great ideas for companies that failed for no reason other than an imbalance in the partnership and the tangential issues that arise as a result.
9) Don’t allow accountants to dictate the direction of your company.
Capable and loyal accountants are a necessary component of a growing company. That doesn’t mean letting them run the show. Consider their input and advice, but make decisions, take action and set the course of your company based on what you know to be best.
10) In hiring, loyalty is paramount
Without loyalty, you have nothing. When hiring, I would choose a candidate with a lesser skill set but who is loyal over anyone more skilled but who lacks in loyalty. Every time.
11) Success in business means being a skilled problem solver.
Building and operating a successful company is effectively solving a never ending stream of problems and challenges. Hone your skills to be great at forecasting problems, acknowledging them early, and putting efficient solutions in place quickly. Consider problems to be cancer cells to your business that require real-time extrication in order to prevent spreading.
12) Learn from your mistakes
While always focusing on the future and keeping your eyes on the horizon, consider experiences of the past to avoid repeating mistakes. While this may seem overly obvious, beware repeated mistakes occur as a result of whatever weaknesses you may have. So the benefit here is not only remaining conscious of avoiding repeated mistakes, but also in the process being able to more clearly identify your weaknesses, giving you an opportunity to put measures in place to strengthen them.
13) Maintain control of your company as a top priority.
Only let control of your company go if there is no alternative option for going forward. If, for example, you have to give up control of your company to secure absolutely necessary funding, do so in a way that leaves open the opportunity to regain control–ie: setting earn-back hurdles, etc.
14) Control expenses
Draw a correlation between every dollar of expense and the benefit of that cost to the bottom line performance of your company. From the purchasing of paper clips, to leasing space, marketing expenditures, and especially in hiring employees, etc.
15) Objective vs. subjective decision making
In most cases in the Internet age there’s no excuse for allowing subjective decision making to overrule objective feedback. You can find out almost anything you need to know to inform yourself on key decisions that will have profound impact on the performance of your company. Particularly by interacting with the marketplace via your company’s online presence. Know how to utilize available online tools to feedback information you need to make wise decisions.
16) Adhere closely to your vision/mission
The construction of a quality house requires a solid foundation. Your vision and mission statement is the foundation from which to build a sustainable, successful company. If it ain’t broke don’t fix it. Stick with what works. Don’t get distracted. As circumstances change and time passes, making adjustments will become necessary, but always do so adhering as closely to core company competence as possible.
17) Exude passion
Exude authentic passion and love for your idea or product in a way that draws others into supporting and furthering your mission. Don’t just talk the talk, walk the walk, with enthusiasm and bounce in your step. Nothing will draw others to your mission more than the enthusiasm you truly feel and show for it. This should come naturally and shouldn’t be something you have to consciously put forward.
Nick Matzorkis is a serial entrepreneur having started 17 companies to-date. He is the founder of the people search industry, has an extensive background in the music industry, founded a NASDAQ company, the first ever U.S. based technology company to launch in mainland China, and introduced and popularized the sport of stand up paddling, the fastest growing water sport on Earth, with the launch of SUP ATX paddle boards. Currently, he is a founder of Union Square Media, a digital advertising agency with offices in New York, Boston, Miami, Austin and Los Angeles.
*’Perspective’ pieces are submitted by individuals, and lightly edited by StartUp Beat for spelling and grammar. Any claims made or errors otherwise are attributed to and the sole responsibility of the author.