The Keys to Startup Success: The Founder28-4-2017 Formation Startups
In this article I will explain the abilities that a Startup Founder should have to maximize the chances of success.
Don’t look at it as a trait’s test where you have to check “if you have it or not” but rather as an auto-analysis tool with which you can evaluate yourself on a 1 to 10 score on each and every single one of them.
If you are about to create a Startup and you realize that you don’t have many of these abilities… don’t worry! Most of them can be learnt and improved with some practice.
1. PASSION FOR THE NICHE
Do not get involved in a project specifically for economic reasons (business opportunity, market volume, etc.) because when you find yourself in a problem, that economic motivation won’t be enough to drive your business forward.
Feeling attracted to the market niche to which you are aiming leaves you in a great position when it comes to developing a product for the market itself. This feeling will also give you knowledge and an appetite for learning how to solve problems for your potential customers.
Furthermore, probably it will be you the one to identify an unresolved need and you’ll become the “client-zero” (“client-one” is the first that pays for your product).
2. PROGRAMMING SKILLS
This applies if the product you want to create has to do with Software (a website tool, a mobile app…). It helps a lot, especially if you want to reduce costs when it comes to testing the market with a Minimum Viable Product (MVP) as you won’t have to outsource anything.
But at the end of the day it doesn’t matter if it is you the one who programs or if you finally outsource the development: A consultant with technical skills has more capacity to launch software products to the market than someone who doesn’t have those skills.
If you don’t know how to code, stay calm, there are other types of digital products that you might want to create: e-books, video courses, podcasts, etc.
3. LEARN TO DELEGATE TASKS
In order to manage a project successfully you need to know how to recognize talent in people and have the ability to delegate, outsource and supervise others’ work.
In the beginning, you might be able to do everything yourself but the time will come in which you will have to hand over some responsibility to other people if you want to launch other projects at the same time.
4. PRODUCT ORIENTATION
Knowing how to create things other people will need is an art itself. Many people think they know in advance the characteristics and features a product needs in order to succeed.
Nevertheless, you have to pay more attention to your users instead of your own ego. The ability of being flexible, overcome your assumptions and adapt to changes in order to modify the product based on your first user’s feedback is key to a successful Startup.
5. KNOWING HOW TO SELL
A Marketer isn’t born, but made. This point is highly important and covers many and diverse capacities, such as knowing how to speak in public (presentations), knowing how to tell stories, writing well, being creative (design-wise), having analytical capacity (A/B Testing)…
Having a great product and not knowing how to sell it is much worse than having a mediocre product and knowing how to sell it.
6. KNOWING PEOPLE
This doesn’t refer only to the amount of people you have in your contacts’ list but rather to the ability of naturally building relationships with other people.
For example, being able to phone a friend or acquaintance for him to check out your new product and giving you feedback is a considerable advantage.
Even more, if you are an accessible person and have a wide contact list it’s easier for other people to contact you to give you new ideas or just because they need help for their own projects.
7. ABILITY TO FOCUS
Launching a project might take you 3 to 6 months but in order to make it grow until you get recurring revenue might take another year and a half. Knowing to learn from your own mistakes to keep going without falling apart is something that requires plenty of tenacity.
The worst enemy with which we as entrepreneurs have to fight is ourselves. We need to be very disciplined when launching a Startup as not everything will be OK at the first time. We need to have plenty of will and determination to avoid chasing “shiny objects” (such as new Startup ideas) without having finished the first one, the one you are currently developing.
If you are easily distracted and you find it hard to finish what you started, take a look at the Getting Things Done System.
8. HAVING SPARE TIME
It’s not the same to have a couple free hours each afternoon after work than having 80 hours per week to focus on your Startup.
A person who is 100% dedicated to his Startup has many more chances of success than somebody who has family or job responsibilities.
9. HAVING ASSETS
Have you heard the expression: “it takes money to make money”? Well it’s true, even if you don’t like it…
Having a financial cushion and recurrent passive income lets you breathe comfortably and make ends meet. This eases the feeling called “abundance mentality”, it lets you avoid having to sell your time in exchange for money thus being able to focus on your own projects. It allows you to outsource and invest in Marketing campaigns… and this, in the end, increases your chances of success.
Nevertheless, for the ones who have to start from scratch not everything is lost. It will mean more hours and effort and we will have to control our expenses (both personal and the Startup’s). The term Bootstrapping refers to the cases in which you launch a project without resources and with you having to do all the work.
But money isn’t the only important thing. There are also other assets that can be of great advantage when it comes to launching a new project. For example, having an audience. A blog with plenty of traffic and SEO, thousands of followers on Twitter or a list of e-mail subscribers might have an incalculable value when launching new projects.
You still haven’t got an audience? I recommend you to buy the e-book called Traction, by Gabriel Weinberg and Justin Mares.
10. TAKE RISKS
A large number of entrepreneurs are single, men and under 35 years old. This happens in other sectors such as investment banking. And it’s not that I’m being sexist, it’s all statistics: this population segment is more likely to take risks (that’s why they pay a higher car insurance).
People without children, mortgages or with nothing to lose are more into taking risks than others with more delicate financial situations.
Workwise, we could classify people depending on their willingness to take risks:
– Conservative: Works as a public servant or is sitting for an official exam. If he hasn’t got a mortgage yet it’s because he is waiting for a vacancy in his city.
– Moderate: He works for a company or is applying for a corporate job. Shares a flat or lives on a rented house and is willing to move to another city if there is a better job awaiting.
– Risky: He has worked for companies and also for himself. Surely he has lived abroad already or at least he has spent his vacations backpacking in exotic destinations.
And you, in which group are you right now?