Facebook, Uber, AirBnB, Google, PayPal and Apple are just a few examples of startups that all began as an idea or solution by individuals who saw an opportunity to explore a grander vision.
Most of these startups share a common thread with a story of humble beginnings and small teams working diligently with a sense of purpose that inevitably shapes the company culture and its trajectory. Visionaries and Entrepreneurs understand It takes more than great ideas and hard work to go from concept to successful startup and while there is no one magic formula for achieving startup success, here are crucial steps that I recommend.
I have met a number of successful startup heads because of what we do and I can say that they all possess a certain commanding presence and air of confidence. A few have even shared that this presence comes from fearlessness. Most successful startup founders would have developed this sense of fearlessness because the road from concept to startup is not always paved or straight and narrow. The fear of failure can inhibit action and in the fast-paced startup sphere, if you snooze you lose. It helps if your sense of purpose and vision are so clear that fear becomes irrelevant. In the eyes of a fearless leader, there is no failure, only lessons learned.
Know Your Market and Competition
Doing research on the market that your startup will serve can be the difference between sinking or swimming. The analytical data that research can provide paints a clear picture of the strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats that exist and you can make your plans accordingly. This should be an ongoing process that will help develop and redevelop your concept to best suit the needs of the market.
Know and Grow Your Customer Base
These questions are absolutely vital for any business to ask. Who is your customer? Who will likely be early adopters? How do they think? What do they like and dislike? Where can we find them? And other relevant lifestyle information informs your marketing at a high level and helps you find your consumer where they are so you can build authentic and lasting relationships. These relationships are what sustains brands and keeps your consumer coming back again and again.
Find Your Edge
No matter how unique your idea, there is always a good chance that it’s been done, is being done, or at the very least, someone is already doing something similar. Know what makes you different. This is where company culture and values come into play. Today’s consumer likes to be aware of what make companies tick, and things like values they can connect to will make them decide to spend their money with you instead of the other guys. This is why you MUST know your why. Check out our blog post about our recent companywide exercise to find our why that resulted in a re-branding, here.
Build the Best Team
Don’t go on the long journey alone. Build a team of professionals that can bring valuable experience to the project. One of the reasons I had a hard time calling myself a CEO, is because of the top down culture that implies. I can proudly say Upstack has been built by an extremely invaluable team of talented people. Which makes our culture much more horizontal than the traditional top down work environment. A good leader clearly understands his strengths and weaknesses and builds a team of people to compliment those.
Of course, in the world of business there are many gray areas and so many things to consider; like making sure you are properly financed, and the numbers make sense – knowing what goals need to be accomplished to become profitable, etc. But those are the technicalities, I believe if your foundation is solid – all of those things will come and as a leader of your fledgling vision, it’s your job to make sure that you start on the right foot and stay there. It’s important to note, that these base level re-evaluations should happen regularly during the life of a company, something we are learning at Upstack as I type. Stay tuned for more of my thoughts as we go through our own growth.