A simple and clear path to a successful startup does not exist. Let’s get this out of the way first. If such a road did exist, you wouldn’t be reading an article about successful traits of a startup.
First of, it takes a lot of commitment, passion and guts to fund a startup. Especially since most people will throw the “eight out of ten” myth around to dampen your spirit. One of the best ways to learn is to take from the success, and mistakes, of other entrepreneurs before you. Since we live in the age where almost any information is readily available at the push of a button or swipe of your screen, these lessons in success(or failure) are not hard to come by. Even if you get everything right, unforeseeable circumstances, such as economic flaws, geopolitical issues, natural disasters can spell doom for any startup, regardless of how well everything else is going.
But let’s leave this gloomy mindset and say you’re all ready to make it big in the startup world. What should you look for to make your startup more successful than others? It is true that successful businesses do share some common traits between each other, and we will look into a few of them going forward.
1. A product that brings innovation
It is definitely harder to succeed in a field that’s been done over and over. So you should make your product as innovative as possible, as this goes especially well if you’re looking for venture capitalists to help you get off then ground.
Creating an innovative products does not mean you should start from scratch. Look for an existing problem and create a solution with what is already available, in a way that nobody has tried/thought of before. Just know that with great innovation also comes great risk and it is up to you to weigh the pros and cons and decide if your idea will able to go big at some point in the future.
2. A clear and unwavering focus
It is best to decide early what your focus will be in the beginning, then plan the long-term game. If you try and focus on too many tasks or projects at the same time, especially if you have only a small team and you’re just starting out, your business will fail.
Focus on what matters most and let everyone know what the focus is. Communication is vital, as your whole team must be laser focused on the important tasks at hand and not just work for the sake of working and clearing tasks so they have something to show in their weekly/monthly reports. Good leadership will also help a team focus on what is important and understand why it is important.
3. Knowledge of what the customer wants
Before you start selling a product or a service, you must first know who you want to sell it and how much they want it. You can try to make a product that you think someone will want, but without proper research beforehand you might just be opening a fully shelved store that nobody wants to go inside. Many startups struggle with finding a market fit for their product, or have greatly overevaluated the demand for their product.
Even if the initial reception of your product or service is well-received, you have to take into account that later down the road it might now have the necessary level of support to be successful. A successful startup will constantly change or adapt their initial idea or product concept until they find right product-market fit. The sooner you find the right niche or target audience for your service or product, the more clear your path to success will be.
4. Start out small
Even if your product is appealing to a large market, you have to start out small at first. Trying to tackle a a large market can be very difficult our outright impossible, so most successful startups begin with smaller markets to test the appeal of their product or service. This is also great way to avoid competition with established names in the market you’re aiming for.
Tests on smaller market sizes can help you understand where something needs to be changed and how it can be changed. It is much easier to deal and adapt to feedback from a small sample of customers than it is from a larger one. Facebook started out only in Harvard and a few other Ivy League universities and didn’t go for a global approach from the get-go. This allowed the company to fine tune itself to user feedback and constantly innovate, before taking on the world.
5. A killer team under a stellar leader
The success of a startup does not have to be only on the leader’s mind. Aside from possessing the right skills to get the job done, it must also be in the employees best interest for the company to be successful. Innovation, initiative and hard-work are quintessential to an employee that does more than just work at a company. However, it is up to the leader to be able to share and convince his employees of the company’s vision. A good employee is nothing if he does not believe in the vision set out before him and a good leader is nothing without a team that believes in him.
As your startup grows and expands, a leader needs to adapt properly and hire the right people. What initially worked in the beginning might not be suitable now you’re seeing some growth. As the company matures, you will have to seek out those that are experienced with larger scale operations to ensure that your business will thrive.
In conclusion, founding a successful startup is not a clear-cut process where you only need to follow the recipe and voila, success is achieved. Most successful companies are a result of hard-work, unwavering determination and rarely just an overnight fluke. Learning from failure will most likely be the key asset that will fuel a company’s growth and in order for that to happen, you must not be afraid of failing. No startup only ever met success, but an essential aspect is that after failure, successful startups have continued to try, explore and innovate and that determination and vision awarded them with prosperity.