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What’s your most valuable advice for startups?

This question is a part of my Free Q&A Series where I answer questions posed by entrepreneurs around the world on sites like Quora, Clarity, and various freelancing forums.

Startups are volatile, emotional, stressful, rewarding, and overwhelming – all at the same time. Too often, they fail for a few simple reasons:

  • Pride
  • Not understanding the problem your audience is facing
  • Not understanding your role in solving that problem

For founders of startups, I recommend:

  • Have crystal clear core values: What do you stand for as an organization, what don’t you stand for? It may seem strange to put this before “business” advice, but your company culture will start to take shape the moment you bring another person into the fold. Better to have your core values decided early.
  • Define your mission statement? Why do you exist? This needs to be more than something cute to hang on the wall. This needs to be what gives your company life.
  • Be able to clearly define the problem or frustration your target audience is facing. So clear that, whenever you talk to people about [this one thing], they exclaim, “I KNOW! The other day I was {struggling with this thing]
  • Have a clearly articulable solution to that one thing. Stupidly simple. Not something that requires an entire paragraph of business mumbo jumbo. Clear. Articulate. Understood.
  • Relentless pursuit of solving that problem. You’re going to be working long hours; it is going to take more money; it is going to take you away from your family more than you expected – you’d better love whatever you’re trying to solve. The failure rate of startups is high enough, you’d better freaking love what you’re doing.
  • Relentless pursuit of solving that problem: part 2. You’re going to face a lot of opposition, resistance, short-comings, problems, and disappointments. You’d better freaking love what you’re doing.
  • Invest only in what solves your need after you have tried every other way of solving it. So many startups jump on board and buy tools, software, fancy desks, top of the line XYZ. Don’t. You are only wrapping a noose tighter around your neck. Instead, look at ways to make a dollar stretch to $5. Look for things that will save you time and money (time is money).
  • Fail fast. Once you realize it is a bad idea, move on. Try something different.
  • Hire slow, fire fast. You are going to be approached by every one you have ever met looking for a job. Hire for the needs of the team and your company; not because you went to school with a guy.
  • Learn how to be the best communicator you can be. Communication is everything at any level of business. If you cannot clearly communicate with your team, customers, investors, family, mentors, or critics, your job will be 10-times harder.
  • Have fun. It is hard work, but hard work can be fun. Don’t lose sight of why you got into the business in the first place.

Best of luck and keep me updated.



Photo by on Unsplash

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