Creating a startup changes your life, introducing you to the world of entrepreneurship and a new identity emerges. This is different from the role of a parent, husband or wife, employee or employer. With this business venture, you now become visible to the world.
It’s possible that starting your own business, becoming an entrepreneur, has been your dream for many years, perhaps stemming from a unique business idea or business model. It may have taken a long time to summon the courage, the wherewithal, and the necessary resources like seed funding or venture capital.
You are doubtless raring to go, but it’s probably unwise to start this startup venture all by yourself, lacking experience, with only your own MVP (Minimum Viable Product) vision to launch you into the business world.
No doubt you’ve already worked out a business plan, created a roadmap for your product or service, and set-up your startup incubator or accelerator-ready business. You are the proud owner of your startup.
You might have friends and associates, maybe even potential co-founders, only too willing to help. But perhaps they too are absorbed by your vision and lack experience in scaling strategies and the practicalities of business strategy. So whose advice should you seek?
It’s time to meet the people who can actually help you; those with years of successful business experience.
Since spending physical time with these role-models isn’t always possible, the next best thing is reading what they have to say. Study startup advice from startup articles or follow a blog for startups; there are hundreds online. Better still, listen to the following advice from the world’s most successful entrepreneurs while thinking about the keyword: productivity.
Startup advice #0: I’ve been busy isn’t the right answer
Nobody replies with, “I’ve been productive” when asked ‘How have you been lately?’ However, in business, “productive” would indeed be a great reply, especially in the context of growth hacking and achieving a product-market fit.
Fidji Simo, now CEO of Instacart, advises, “Focus is really about aligning with your purpose – whether it be your purpose on a specific project or your higher purpose in life. When actions reflect intentions, you’re in alignment with your mission. Only then can you truly shine.”
To be productive, you need to focus on your goal, your purpose, your mission. This is the key that opens the door for success, rather than being busy just for the sake of it. Entrepreneurs clear their clutter, both literally and figuratively, so what’s left is focused on productivity, with very clear priorities.
Business startup advice from top entrepreneurs
How to focus on what’s essential, and how can you avoid getting distracted by fluff?
Nick Kellet, Co-founder of Listly, brings in his entrepreneurship experience when he speaks, especially in the context of marketing. What he emphasizes shows the importance of business strategy when deciding what to focus on.
He said, “Be careful who you choose to listen to. Too much of the wrong feedback and ideas can choke your creativity and your beliefs. Feedback is the lifeblood of a startup, but you need to align it with your business model and vision. Does the person giving you feedback share your lens? Do they fit your product-market fit or target persona?”
This attitude is paramount when you conduct market research, a crucial step in any business plan. Communicating effectively with your customers and gathering feedback from those who understand your startup vision will help you separate the wheat from the chaff, essentially achieving MVP (Minimum Viable Product) validation.
This is a step-by-step, chronological guide to launching a successful startup, keeping in mind the advice from successful entrepreneurs:
- What entrepreneurs say about Learning and the importance of continuous startup mentorship.
- Becoming a successful entrepreneur means more than just bootstrapping; it means hard work.
- Hard work also means facing the mental hardships of being a founder.
- Hard work is futile without market research and knowing your market.
- Most of all, it’s about being passionate and motivated, the essence of entrepreneurship.
- Learning from advice by taking action, much like the iterative processes in lean startup methodologies.
Learning, and mastering how to learn, are the first steps in the startup journey.
What Entrepreneurs Say about Learning
The best startup advice, especially for those in early-stage startups, is to remain in a learning mode. “You will never know enough. You will always be forced to make a decision without fully understanding what is coming. As a founder, that’s just the reality of venture capital cycles and startup incubators.
You have to get comfortable with uncertainty,” says Aaron O’Hearn, Co-founder and CEO of the Startup Institute. However, maintaining a balance is key.
Tony Hsieh, the founder of Zappos and a renowned figure in startup networking, warns, “Don’t play games you don’t understand, even if you see many other entrepreneurs making money from them.”
Taking risks, like seeking angel investors or considering equity distribution, is necessary to progress in the entrepreneurial world. But it’s vital to make them calculated risks. Greed never yields long-term results.
Learn to walk before you chase scaling strategies. Testing your ideas, maybe even within startup incubators, is a way to ground your vision. “Get five or six of your smartest friends in a room and ask them to rate your idea,” Mark Pincus, CEO of Zynga, suggests.
In the end, it’s all about learning, evolving, and heeding the startup advice from those who’ve walked the path before.
Learning is also about mastering the startup journey, especially when it involves learning how to fail and not repeat mistakes. “Don’t worry about failure; you only have to be right once.” These entrepreneurial words of wisdom were shared by Drew Houston, Dropbox founder, and CEO.
The idea is simple: Giving up isn’t an option in the startup ecosystem. Your subsequent startup venture will be more fruitful because you’ve discovered the pitfalls of your previous business model and understood what doesn’t align with your vision.
So, for those on the startup journey, remember to be courageous, but also understand how to be fearless without getting scorched.
Arianna Huffington, President, and Editor in Chief of The Huffington Post Media Group, a leading voice in the startup networking world, advises, “Fearlessness is like a muscle. I know from my own life in the business world that the more I exercise it, the more innate it becomes to not let my fears overshadow my startup vision.”
Becoming a successful entrepreneur means Hard Work
Learning is the initial step, but as any startup mentor would tell you, practice is what refines your skills.
“If you don’t hustle, coupled with grit, sweat, and even traditional sales techniques, your business strategy may falter. Be willing to make the calls, embrace bootstrapping, get your hands dirty, and put in the relentless hours.”
Nicole Munoz, founder, and CEO of Nicole Munoz Consulting, Inc. certainly knows the grind of the startup ecosystem.
This startup advice resonates deeply, but it doesn’t suggest rushing into product-market fit or scaling strategies before being prepared.
Consider Biz Stone’s input, who, as the co-founder of Twitter, has vast entrepreneurship experience. He suggests that “Timing, perseverance, and ten years of iterative processes, MVP validations, and continuous learning will eventually make you look like an overnight success.”
Stay hands-on but practice patience simultaneously. Remember the lessons learned, and consistently apply the startup advice gathered over time.
“Have patience. Ideas, much like lean startup methodologies, don’t manifest overnight.
Things might stretch out longer than anticipated, be it fundraising, product development cycles, customer acquisition, or finding the right startup incubator. In places like Silicon Valley, this is challenging, given the culture thrives on swift growth.
Have resilience and don’t relent hastily. Persevere another day, and continue refining. Those equipped with patience and resilience will eventually uncover success.” Thus imparted Jonathan Tang, Founder, and CEO @ Vastrm.
Hard work means going through the mental hardships of being a founder
Hard work equates with consistent determination in the startup journey. Don’t be afraid to embrace grit and resilience. Let Kathryn Minshew, Founder & CEO, The Muse – a renowned startup networking platform – inspire you.
“The best piece of entrepreneurial advice I ever received was that “no” is often just the starting point in the business world. Most careers worth having involve a fair amount of determination, bootstrapping spirit, and a cycle of ‘try, iterate, and try again’. That’s been the doctrine ten times over at The Muse, and I’m so thankful for this early startup mentorship!”
In the startup ecosystem, it’s paramount to strategize over time. A startup business isn’t a mere Monopoly game, and even that involves more iterative processes than a typical steeplechase.
Jen Rubio, an influential voice in the product-market fit arena and co-founder, president, and chief brand officer of Away, discusses business model development and scaling strategies.
“There isn’t a one-size-fits-all business strategy! When you’re incubating a startup from scratch, a playbook isn’t always available, making MVP validations crucial. It’s inevitable that mistakes will arise. Embracing flexibility and adapting to unforeseen challenges will help you maintain focus on the core mission, rather than letting minor setbacks derail your startup vision.”
The co-founder of Block Island Organics, Will von Bernuth’s advice is both clear and uplifting for those on their startup journey. “There’s nothing more fulfilling than founding your own business, but you must brace yourself for the startup ecosystem’s ups and downs. Emotionally, it’s a roller-coaster, with unparalleled highs and challenging lows. But my primary advice for budding entrepreneurs is: ‘just embark on it.'”
Hard work is futile without understanding your Market Dynamics
So is startup advice. Without comprehensive market research and understanding the pain points of your target audience, all entrepreneurial advice might prove in vain. It’s akin to launching an e-commerce website without truly deciphering the key products or defining “convenience” for your customer base.
Overlooking this aspect might seem unthinkable, yet even successful entrepreneurs like Will Manders, managing director of Zoonibo, have faced this pitfall.
“Market dynamics are often neglected by first-time founders. I’ve witnessed many, including myself in past endeavors, fail because the market demand wasn’t robust enough for scalability,” he reflects.
Alexis Ohanian, Founder of Reddit, Hipmunk, and Breadpig, provides a solution to this dilemma. “A common pitfall I notice among startups is not addressing a genuine problem. Aim to rectify a prevalent issue or devise a superior method than conventional ones.
Such insights typically signify a promising beginning… Hence, Y Combinator’s motto: ‘Make something people crave.’ Achieving this often means you’re on the right track.”
To excel in this, two essential qualities are paramount…
Most of all you need to be passionate and motivated
Andrew Filev, founder and CEO @ Wrike, a leader in the startup ecosystem, elucidates the genuine essence of entrepreneurship. He emphasizes the perils of chasing venture capital or short-term profits instead of zeroing in on addressing the customer’s pain points. This entrepreneurial journey is rooted in genuine passion for your niche and this should be the driving force of your startup vision.
His words resonate deeply with every startup mentorship session. “The only anchor that will sail you through the tumultuous waters of entrepreneurship — and expect several storms — is unwavering passion and dedication to your mission. If you divert, if you’re lured by quick bucks or ephemeral trends, the roller-coaster ride of startup life, with its highs and lows, will inevitably exhaust your spirit.”
In the startup journey, strive to innovate and craft a legacy like Alexi Nazem, co-founder and CEO of Nomad Health, a pioneer in healthcare networking.
“But, here’s the silver lining: establishing a startup bestows you with profound pride. It’s the art of sculpting a monument from mere clay. Thus, occasionally, take a moment of reflection, cherishing the milestones you and your dedicated team have conquered. The synergy of a small group of motivated individuals can indeed birth disruptive innovations.”
Embarking on the Startup Journey by Leveraging Mentorship and Taking Resolute Action
The concluding wisdom from these entrepreneurial gurus radiates a fervent call-to-action, a doctrine every business strategy should embed.
“In this startup ecosystem, you needn’t yearn for external validation. More often, it might elude you, so surge ahead. Prototype, launch, and iterate. Detractors might surround you, some cloaked in the guise of goodwill, others spurred by envy.
Your formidable challenge as a budding entrepreneur isn’t shrouding your disruptive idea or playing cards close to your chest. The real trial is to inspire belief in your stakeholders that your vision isn’t a fleeting dream but a viable, scalable venture.” Such sagacious insights, indeed, resonate with the philosophy of Sean Parker, Founder of Napster.
In other words: time to put the startup advice to one side and act
While treasuring the startup mentorship from top-tier entrepreneurs is crucial, it isn’t merely about collecting advice.
You must be proactive, harnessing entrepreneurial insights into actionable plans. In the ever-evolving startup ecosystem, the essence of your venture must be rooted in perpetual learning and agility. Numerous digital platforms offer invaluable resources on upskilling courses, expert counsel, and essential tools for startups. Venture into a simple Google search like “easy startup business 2020”, and you’ll unearth a plethora of insights. Furthermore, platforms like The Startup offer holistic business coaching tailored to the modern entrepreneur.
As you sail through this entrepreneurial journey, prioritize focus and productivity. Dive deep into the essentials you’ve earmarked for your venture. Analyze, strategize, and introspect. Establish a strong digital footprint.
Matthew Podolsky, a visionary attorney at Florida Law Advisers, P.A, champions nurturing businesses with unwavering confidence and strategic foresight. In his words, “While patience is key, and it’s pivotal to allow your venture to organically grow, be ever-alert. If profitability hiccups or other challenges surface, be agile in seeking solutions. Merely adhering to a pre-set course might not suffice.”
In the world of disruptive startups, it’s vital to be proactive, drawing inspiration from solutions championed by successful ventures. After all, leveraging the right startup tools and insights can be game-changing.
While onlookers might perceive your success story as a serendipitous overnight phenomenon, you’re well-aware of the grind and the myriad choices that sculpted your trajectory.
You’ve decoded the myth of the ‘overnight success’. It’s the culmination of relentless hard work, strategic decisions, and perseverance.
Echoing the sentiments of Jeff Atwood, Co-founder of StackExchange and Discourse, a beacon in the startup mentorship realm: “The best time to begin was yesterday. The next best? Right now. Embark on your journey promptly, savor the rewards, or swiftly learn and pivot. Eliminate the haunting ‘what ifs’ by diving into action. Because there’s no regret more taxing than inaction. So, without further ado, act! Forge ahead with fervor!”
FAQs about startup advice
What should I consider before starting a startup?
Well, kick things off by understanding the market need. Yeah, it sounds cliché, but if no one’s buying what you’re selling, then what’s the point, right?
Before you dive in, ensure there’s a demand for your product or service. Talk to potential customers, do surveys, and don’t shy away from the gritty details. Think of it as laying down the foundation of your entrepreneurial house. You wouldn’t want it shaky, would you?
How much funding do I need?
Ah, the big money question! First things first, it’s not just about getting investors to throw cash at you. You need to be clear about your business’s operating costs.
Create a robust financial plan, estimate your expenses, and consider how long you can go without turning a profit. Remember, it’s always better to overestimate than underestimate. Oh, and venture capital isn’t the only game in town. Check out bootstrapping, crowdfunding, or angel investors.
How do I find the right co-founder?
Look, finding a co-founder isn’t like swiping right on a dating app. It’s about networking and connecting with someone who complements your skills.
Attend entrepreneurial events, chat with people in your industry, and seek someone who shares your vision. Also, remember the importance of compatibility. It’s like a marriage; you’ll be spending a lot of time together. So, choose wisely!
When’s the right time to launch?
Haste makes waste, my friend. While you might be raring to hit the market, ensure you’ve tested your product extensively.
Gather feedback, make necessary tweaks, and aim for a minimum viable product (MVP). Once you’ve nailed the MVP and are confident about the market fit, blast off!
Should I worry about competitors?
Heck, yes! But not in a lose-sleep-over-it kind of way. Stay updated on your competitors but focus on what makes your product unique.
Your unique selling proposition (USP) is your magic sauce. Sprinkle it everywhere!
How do I protect my startup idea?
Ah, stepping into the mysterious world of patents and copyrights, are we? First, it’s not just about an idea; it’s about execution.
Still, consider non-disclosure agreements when discussing your startup. And if it’s truly a novel idea, seek intellectual property rights. It’s a jungle out there; better be armed!
Do I need a business plan?
In a word? Yes. Think of it as your startup’s GPS. Without it, you’re driving blind. Draft a plan, but keep it flexible.
The entrepreneurial road is full of unexpected twists and turns. And remember, the importance of scalability is key. Your plan should allow for growth and pivots.
How do I market my product?
Ah, now we’re talking! Marketing isn’t just about flashy ads. It’s about understanding your target audience and speaking their language.
Dive deep into digital marketing, leverage social media, and focus on content that adds value. Oh, and word of mouth? Still golden.
How can I ensure customer loyalty?
Winning customers is great; retaining them? Even better. Focus on delivering top-notch service. Address grievances, ask for feedback, and reward loyalty. Customers aren’t just numbers; they’re your brand ambassadors. Treat ’em right.
What if my startup fails?
A tough pill to swallow, but failure is a part of the entrepreneurial journey. It’s not the end of the road, just a bump. Analyze what went wrong, learn, pivot, and move on. And remember, every failure is just a stepping stone to success. Chin up, champ!
We hope these tips from famous entrepreneurs will help you not make any bad decisions. Or rather less bad decisions. You can also apply to various communities for online entrepreneurs like the Indie Media Club, do some networking, and learn from the other members.
If you enjoyed reading this article on startup advice, you should check out this one about startup failure.
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