Startup: Every small business owner has a common goal: to see their company thrive. Why risk everything (time, money, and emotional energy) on a risky new venture that may or may not succeed? Still, a surprising number of them do.
“A fundamental truth or proposition that serves as the foundation for a system of belief or behavior or for a chain of reasoning,” as defined by the New Oxford American Dictionary.
Ultimately, a company’s guiding principles determine its fate. They are the foundation of the company. I’ve come up with ten such tenets that, in my opinion, form the basis for the development of the most successful small business in the world.
1. Customer-Focused Thinking
It’s a no-brainer that requires no thought at all. As business owners, we owe our very existence to our clientele. The success or failure of our business will be determined by our ability to attract new customers and keep existing ones.
And the only way to achieve that is to prioritize the needs of your customers. Do not choose a Startup business idea, product feature, or problem to solve simply because you like it or think it will be successful. Instead, focus on the client by asking them these questions.
- Will they like your idea?
- Will the feature matter to them?
- Does this seem like a problem they want to have resolved?
- Will they find an appropriate answer in your product or service?
Consider what your customers will have to say before making any choice, no matter how minor.
Keep in mind that it’s simple to prioritize metrics like these because they are the ones that define success: profit, revenue, sales, conversion rate, margin, revenue per transaction, and so on.
However, you won’t succeed if you ignore your customers, who are the true engines behind your business’s bottom line. Your success or failure will be determined by the satisfaction of your target market with your offering.
Read More: How to Write a Business Plan?
When you’re an entrepreneur, you have legal title to the things you make and create. Legal title involves two concepts:
- Putting long-term success ahead of immediate gains
- Officially representing the group and the business
As an entrepreneur, you are responsible for every aspect of the Startup, from ideation to customer acquisition to feature prioritization to sales to hiring to scaling. Long-term objectives should always take precedence over shorter-term ones while you’re working on them.
You could, for instance, be tempted to select a feature because of its potential tomorrow-day impact on unit sales, valuation, and capital-raising efforts. Although it’s tempting, you shouldn’t give in. You risk damaging your brand and revenue if you create false expectations and lead to future disappointment.
I’ve seen it happen countless times, and it’s the reason why so many promising business owners end up busted. However, the inability to increase prices due to market forces ultimately does these businesses in. Although tomorrow will be crucial, you should keep your sights set on the long-term objective. Maintain your sense of direction.
And this is the result. Once you’ve taken the entrepreneurial plunge, everything you do is fair game for your company. Nothing you do, say, or decide is done in your individual capacity. In this context, you are the “entrepreneur you” making these choices and fielding these calls. Always keep that in mind and make your decisions accordingly. That’s the whole point of having a stake in something.
3. Show the guts to disagree and stick to your convictions
Sometimes as a business owner, you’ll need to stand firm and express your disagreement, and other times you’ll want to fully commit to an idea or initiative. As well as the intestinal fortitude to accomplish both. Don’t misunderstand me.
It will become increasingly difficult to answer with a simple yes or no as your commitments and responsibilities increase. You’ll never be able to relax because of your perpetual fear of making a poor choice. There’s too much at risk: the future of your Startup, your team, your fans, and your backers’ money.
The fact remains, however, that as responsibilities and obligations increase, it becomes necessary to alternate between firmly saying yes and no.
There should be no hesitation or second-guessing. Do whatever needs to be done. Display some intestinal fortitude.
4. Establish Credibility
Trust is the deciding factor, and you’ll need it at every stage of your business’s growth. When trying to convince people you care about that your business plan will work, you have to earn their trust that you will do well. You risk losing their approval if you don’t.
If your team believes in you and your ability to see the plan through, they will stick with you no matter what. To purchase your product or service, potential customers must believe that your solution is superior to alternatives. If you want investors to put money into your idea, you need to convince them that you can be trusted and that your product is a good bet.
You can’t make it through a single day on this planet without the trust of at least one other person. As well, trust isn’t something that can be built overnight.
Brick by brick, through your actions and reactions, you must construct it. There need to be hundreds of positive actions before people will trust you, but just one mistake can ruin your reputation completely. Keeping that in mind, it’s important to prioritize building and maintaining trust.
This is another case where there is absolutely no room for doubt. Avoid frivolous spending and spend wisely. It’s been said before, but it bears repeating: this is the one factor that will ultimately determine your success or failure. In the beginning, you may be relying on your personal savings, a small loan from family and friends, or even credit cards to cover your expenses. It’s imperative that you carefully budget your funds until you make your first sale.
Make sure you’re only spending money on necessities and not extras. Think carefully about whether or not you actually need that item before you pull out your credit card to buy it.
Just because you think you might need it in a few months or a year is not a good enough reason to make a purchase right now. For instance, if you find a survey tool to your liking and it happens to be on sale, you might consider making a purchase. Putting money aside for a potential future purchase is a smart move.
However, it is important to do the math before making a purchase. What is the cost? Just how much do you plan to put away? How much money will you be wasting if you leave it parked and unused? Is there anything more pressing that needs funding right now?
Calculate your options and then make a call. Never forget that hundreds of businesses have failed because their owners ran out of money just as they were about to cross the finish line. Beware of becoming a tragic statistic. Use thrift.
6. Quality of the team and the culture it fosters
The success of any endeavor depends entirely on the quality of the team and the culture it fosters. Because of this, it’s crucial to carefully select top managers who will personify the culture you intend to foster. When your company’s culture inspires your employees (your greatest asset), it will result in happy workers and happy customers. People need to feel like they are contributing to something greater than themselves for the culture to succeed.
7. Don’t enter the business world just for money
Huh? To make a profit, that’s why people become business owners, right? The goal of starting a business is to create something new. To put it bluntly, money shouldn’t be your primary motivation, especially in the beginning when you’re just starting out and you’re bound to encounter a lot of setbacks. Not enough to warrant the effort and determination needed. Begin a Startup because you’re convinced of the value of your idea and the opportunity it presents. Don’t fight for money; instead, consider yourself a missionary.
8. Expect to fail and accept it
This is a horrible word, and we despise it. But entrepreneurs always fall down when they try to accomplish their lofty goals. Don’t let setbacks destroy you; instead, use them to propel you forward. Don’t be embarrassed; it’s to be expected. You need only hum the familiar tune that encourages adventurers to pick themselves up, dust themselves off, and try again.