With the knowledge you have today, would you go back 10 years in time to live out your life? We’ve probably all thought about the idea at one point or another, because we look back at all the different experiences in our lives to date and there’s always something we could’ve changed. There’s always something we could’ve done better.
As a start-up founder – whether you have years of experience or just starting out – you will make mistakes.
Here are some best pieces of advice that many established founders wish they knew before they started their journey.
Don’t be afraid to make mistakes!
If you are afraid of failure and afraid of being wrong, then entrepreneurship might not be suited to you. From the words of Elon Musk, “You should take the approach that you’re wrong – that you, the entrepreneur, are wrong. Your goal is to be less wrong.” Embrace your mistakes, learn from them, and commit yourself to never making them again. The journey to success is not easy but learning to get back up after you fall is a skill found only in the strongest of minds.
Adopt an entrepreneurial mindset that everything is an opportunity for learning and self-development. Seek criticism every chance you get from your friends, your family, from anyone you can. You need to understand that if you aim to seek perfection in your product or idea, honest opinions will matter. You’re not going to like what you hear a lot of the time, but the alternative is the loss of your company, all your invested time and money.
Connections. Connections. Connections.
A lot of start-up founders wonder about the importance of networking when it comes to business success. It is an absolute must if your goal is to raise money. The business world revolves around two things: relationships and money. If you are someone who has neither, it’s time to start getting your name out there! Attend networking events. Build relationships with people (especially like-minded entrepreneurs) on a personal level. Engage yourself with start-up communities. Oh, and build your LinkedIn profile because it just so happens that more social network connections could be positively correlated to greater financial start-up success. Never doubt the power of connections – it could be the make or break of your company.
“Sell dreams, not products!”
People don’t care about what your idea is. What they care about is how your product will benefit them and change their lives. Communicate your story in a way that will inspire your audience and show them that your idea will bring them prosperity and goodwill, because that is what people want to hear. That is a story worth telling. Effective communication is a developed skill that many have dedicated their entire lives to. And so, understanding your consumer base on an emotional level and being able to influence them as such can translate into a very powerful message.
Know your market
Based on the analysis of ‘101 Startup Post-Mortems’, the top reason for why start-ups fail is due to a failure to understanding the needs of the market. In many ways, it goes hand-in-hand with effective marketing communication. But please, research your market! Who are they? What are their needs? How does your product solve their problems? You could do everything else perfectly but if nobody wants to buy your product, it’s over.
All in all, every start-up founders’ circumstances are different. In 10 odd years or so, a day may come when you’re asked for advice from someone in their early days of their start-up journey. Appreciate the long road of hardship that you’ve taken and be jubilant by the fact that you’ve made it so far.
What do you think you’d tell them?