3 Tips for Successful Startups

Have you jumped on the startup bandwagon? Sure, the success stories can be pretty alluring. But the threat of failure can be terrifying. According to the Wall Street Journal, a whopping near 75% of startups fall apart: “About three-quarters of venture-backed firms in the U.S. don’t return investors’capital, according to recent research by Shikhar Ghosh, a senior lecturer at Harvard Business School.” Yikes.

Why do they fail? Forbes has a few ideas. George Deeb, Managing Partner at Red Rocket Ventures, summarized thirteen top reasons why fortune doesn’t smile on startups. You can take a look at his reasons here. Among them, a lack of go-to-market strategy, competitive research, revenue model, flexibility, and leadership seem to draw the red X on certain foreheads. Additionally, he cites the more terrifying factor of, simply, fate: #13, “Bad Luck or Timing.”

Entrepreneur’s article, “Don’t Make These 10 Startup Mistakes” also cites similar blunders. Dismissing a business plan, lacking flexibility, and even picking the wrong place to launch are all mistakes that can cost someone their business dream, according to John Rampton, Entrepreneur Contributor. He also makes note of the timing issue.

But let’s focus on the positive. What can you do to set yourself up for success? You may not be able to control the random whims of the thunder gods, but you can be as well-prepared as possible.

Here are three great tips for a successful startup.

1. Gather Your Ducks

You may disregard this one as a no-brainer, but it’s still worth a mention. Before you launch, you better have a few big business ducks ready to get sorted into their rows.

A few of the biggies:

Plan for the Monies (Past, Present, Future)

Don’t be financially in the dark. Know what you need now, and what your strategy is for the future. Consider everything you’ll want or need from investors, if you choose that route. Get ready to draw up a revenue plan for when you need it.

Market Strategy (Research, Plan, Prepare)

Make sure you understand where you are and what’s around you. Do the work. Find out what you’re up against, how your product or service really stands out, and what you’ll need to do with marketing and financial planning for a successful launch.

Hiring Strategy (Team Building and Leadership)

Don’t drop this duck. It’s easy to not spend a lot of time on this one just yet. Maybe you can’t even hire anyone right now, so you think you’ll just get to this when it comes up. It’s better to have some idea of what people you might need in the future, where you’ll find them, and how you’ll keep them. Have an honest idea of how you and your partners will really fit into the picture, and prepare for best-case-scenario growth.

Plan B (What To Do If It All Falls Apart)

Not to bring down the house with sadness and tears, but you need to have some idea of what you’ll do if, worst-case-scenario, the whole thing goes kaput. If your startup blows up, you do have other options. Write up this plan, so you don’t feel as if your entire life is riding on this one success. Some entrepreneurs toggle between projects, dropping things when they realize that death is near. You don’t have to stick with this Plan B exactly, but preparing for options that depart from the optimal situation is a good way to keep yourself flexible. And flexibility in the world of startups is key.

2. Review This List

Entrepreneur has a great list of questions to ask yourself before you launch. You might think you’re geared to go, but are you really? Run through this list, honestly, at least a few times before you pull the trigger. Check them out here.

3. Chill It Out

Now that you’ve done the hard stuff, take a much needed break. Round up some buddies and hit happy hour. Take a kayaking trip. Gently groom your noble steed. Do whatever it is that helps you relax. Launching a startup is no simple feat, and the pressure might keep coming. Start learning how to de-stress now. (Hey, even check out our post about mindfulness for a little breathing meditation courtesy of you-know-who…)

There’s a lot that can go into launching a startup, and there are tips galore on how to make it successful. We’ve narrowed it down to our top three, but what ideas do you have? Let us know in the comments below!

Photo credit: jenny downing

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