Startups are the fuel that powers the global economy with over half a million new businesses created each year. However, 50% of these startups fail within the first 4 years – a harsh statistic that weighs on any entrepreneur. What can you do as an entrepreneur to keep your startup from becoming a part of this statistic?
- “Keep it tight” When it comes to starting a business, “bootstrap” is the guide. The needs of any new business can easily become a pages-long list. The most important thing that you can do for your business: don’t overinvest! Push off any expenses that you can, for as long as you can.
Staying frugal is important. – The reality is that you WILL make mistakes, even if you are a veteran entrepreneur. Make sure that these mistakes won’t bring your entire business down, and that your lean attitude will help you through the learning process.
- Learn from others Entrepreneurs, by nature, are inventive – but don’t reinvent the wheel. Look at good operations in your industry and when in doubt, copy what they have done. Attend trade shows and use all your networking opportunities to build your pool of wisdom. Don’t be afraid to shop your competition. They have faced many of the same challenges that you are facing, and their solutions can be seen in the way that they run their business now – learn from them.
- Have a narrow focus Know your core competencies and focus on them. Don’t fall into the trap of thinking you are an expert financier, and expert marketer, an expert sales person, and an expert ops manager – all at the same time. (If you are such a person, we would like to hire you!) The reality is that all it takes is to know how to do one thing well to create a competitive advantage. Don’t feel less than adequate if you are average in all areas outside of your core competency.
On the same note, have a broad vision but a narrow first step. Tackle your broad vision one step at a time. Speed is critical, so keep a bias for action – what you do doesn’t need to be perfect to be good … and you can always perfect it later with Version 2.
- Be flexible Be nimble and retain your ability to adapt. This is a trial and error process for everyone. Signing long term contracts in an effort to save money can actually be more costly in the long run. Fact is, you don’t know what will happen in 6 months, let alone 2 years. Be it an office lease, web hosting, or any other service contract – give a premium to flexibility.
- Have a broad plan And stick to it! Embarking on an entrepreneurial venture is a journey in the truest of senses. As you take each step make sure that it not only leads to, but helps, the next step. Mark milestones with each step and evaluate as you reach each one to cement what you have learned.
It takes more than a great idea or a great product to succeed as a startup – indeed, many startups with great promise fail. The common thread that runs through every successful startup is a combination of hard work, financial discipline, the ability to adapt, and the drive to move quickly.
Chief Executive Officer
Pacific Business Centers
Prior to starting PBC in 2003 (rebranded as Pacific Workplaces), Laurent held executive and management positions at Sun Microsystems, Litchfield Advisors, and Hewlett-Packard, with responsibilities in Corporate Real Estate, Corporate Development, Operations, and Finance. He holds an MBA from the Haas School at UC Berkeley.
Currently serves as a Marketing Manager with a focus in online marketing and market strategy. Prior to joining Pacific Business Centers (rebranded as Pacific Workplaces), Nick consulted with small businesses to assist in a business development and public relations role.