Topics: Products, Roles (Not Rolls-Royce), Decisions, Team & Operations.
No matter how much Business experience you have, you won’t know everything there is to know about running a business the moment you launch your first startup. There’s a pretty steep learning curve, and odds are – you’ll find yourself saying, “I wish someone had told me that,” at least a few times along the way. If you want to prepare yourself for some of the more difficult and unexpected challenges of entrepreneurship, it’s crucial to listen to the experiences of those who have been in your shoes before. Fifteen CEOs of new & existing companies reflect on what they’ve learned, and impart their best lessons to aspiring startup founders.
A. Your Product
#1 Look at everything as an Experiment.
No product is perfect, no idea fully formed. You will make assumptions, and you should trust your instincts, but the only real way to prove your product is by testing it on real customers. So, don’t be afraid if the first cut of your product isn’t perfection. It will invariably change over time and hopefully get much better.
#2 Listen to your Customers.
We’ve got an experienced team of developers, product managers & marketers, but our customers know our product inside out from using it. We know that they are what brings the product to life. There is nothing better than a customer suggesting a product feature or opportunity that we hadn’t thought of. By being open-minded to consumer feedback, we’re able to build a better product to serve them.
#3 Find people who already Believe in you.
Instead of launching in the whole USA, we needed to focus on our existing Customers from our precious products, because that’s where we had eager ears. If you get loyal Customers who already know and are interested in you, you’ve just got a more powerful Rocket for the launch.
B. Your Roles
#4 Follow your Mission.
Let your core Mission\Vision be your guide. It is your core that started you down this entrepreneurial path you’ve chosen, and it is your guide to the key to unlocking the strategic steps that make the most sense for your venture. If you continuously remind yourself why you’ve embarked on a particular journey, you’ll continue to move closer and closer to your ultimate Vision.
#5 Don’t be afraid to break the Mold.
To succeed as a Founder/CEO you need to be steadfast in your beliefs and not always conform to the perceived ‘norm.’ CEOs will ultimately be measured & respected by their actions, reactions, rate of success of how they impacted the world during their time at the helm Today is the best time to ever be at the executive level of a company, but the power a CEO has goes way beyond producing great results for your company. It has more to do with leaving your legacy. We all can help bring the world to greater frontiers.
#6 Become an multi-talented Expert.
Be sure to learn from all fields of your business, whether it’s Design, HR, PR, or Marketing. When tasks need to get done, when questions need to be answered, when upgrades are required or additional research needed — even though it may not be your field of expertise — you are the answer to make the final decision.
#7 Recognize when to Scale up and change your role.
Every company has a turning-point, at which time that Founder has to understand, that his role has fundamentally changed and he needs the skills of a good CEO – management & leadership. He also needs to set the long-term Vision and build the capabilities to achieve this Vision — as he continues to continue to scale the company.
C. Your Decisions
#8 Be aware of your Distractions & Opportunities.
There will be many distractions or opportunities that will try to steer you off your chosen course from your plan, which will lead to a high probability of failure. There will be opportunities that you will not want to pass up, but they just have to be vetted thoroughly. Be aware of everything around you – such as the market you are attacking and additional Influencers or Investors will help you becomesa more effective leader.
#9 Be open to all Feedback.
As a CEO, you sometimes can get stuck in routines of innovation & development that don’t always include the opinions of your subordinates. We routinely have meetings where employees at all levels can provide insights & opinions on how to improve and optimize how we work. You will be surprised what you can discern from individuals that don’t have any other interest in telling you anything but ways to make your company better.
#10 Harness the power of ‘No.’
There are so many opportunities to consider and it may seem counter-intuitive to forego them. The problem is – that while these opportunities are attractive & create return – they come at a cost and these costs can be disastrous for the company. The nature of a startup is to become a leader in a chosen market segment. It is far from a trivial target: How does a small company with limited resources become a leader? Only through focus and the utmost discipline + knowing when to say ‘No’ to certain opportunities that don’t have a good Return on Investment [ROI].
D. Your Team
#11 Hire people who are smarter, better & faster than you.
Forget your ego — this isn’t a contest! Don’t believe that people who are smarter than you won’t respect you or support your decisions. On the contrary, they know if you are in your position, you’ve worked hard to get there. If you hire people who are ineffective, you will end up doing a majority of their work for them – wasting your time.
#12 Have a Backup plan for your Team.
As a startup, we have ingrained in our minds that we must operate as lean as possible, especially staff. However, it’s equally important to hire for growth – especially when it comes to specialized positions. You should never have a situation where, if a certain staff member were to leave, your operation would slow down or stop. Hire people with multi-talents that can backup each other as needed – until you find the replacement.
E. Your Operations
#13 Define & focus on your Niche.
Looking back at our history, we stopped chasing extravagant Customer deals and focused more on our Core Customer base of small & medium-sized businesses. These are the customers that get deceived by some of our competitors and the ones we know we can help the most.
#14 Know when to be Aggressive & not.
You must win & re-win Customers almost every day – even the loyal ones. We were focused on making a better product to solve an important client’s problem, but we did not overwhelm them in all we were doing. Maybe we were passive & polite, when we should have been a little more aggressive and direct. Had we rocked their boat, we would have had a chance. Instead, the boat sailed and we missed it.
#15 Pay attention to Fund-Raising & Investors.
“In 2015, we successfully raised the largest round of funding on AngelList … and learned how well Crowd-Funding really works. It provides not only an efficient fund-raising model, but also adds valuable Investors to your network – who can be very helpful in accelerating your business.
“An entrepreneur is someone who has a vision for something and a burning desire to create it.” – David Karp, Tumblr
“Your most unhappy customers are your greatest source of learning.” – Bill Gates, Microsoft
“If you’re not a risk taker, you should get the hell out of business.” – Ray Kroc, McDonald’s
“I’m convinced that about half of what separates the successful entrepreneurs from the non-successful ones is pure perseverance.” – Steve Jobs
“Don’t worry about failure; you only have to be right once.” – Drew Houston, CEO, Dropbox
“You have to be very nimble and very open minded. Your success is going to be very dependent on how your adapt.” – Jeremy Stoppelman, CEO, Yelp
“Timing, perseverance, and ten years of trying will eventually make you look like an overnight success.” – Biz Stone, Co-Founder, Twitter
“Whether you think you can, or think you can’t – you’re right.” – Henry Ford, Founder, Ford Motor Co
“Risk more than others think is safe. Dream more than others think is practical.” – Howard Schultz, Founder, Starbucks
“Always deliver more than expected.” – Larry Page, CoFounder, Google
“It’s in our best interest to put some of the old rules aside and create new ones and follow the consumer—what the consumer wants and where the consumer wants to go.” –CEO of Walt Disney
“Engineering is the closest thing to magic that exists in the world.” – Elon Musk, CEO, Tesla & SpaceX
“Tech industry does not respect tradition – it only respects innovation.” – Zuck, Facebook
Comment: Do you know any other Lesson you should learn when you start a Business?
fm Biz News Daily 7/20 enhanced by Peter/CXO Wiz4.biz
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