Many ambitious entreprepreneurs embark on new ventures by buying existing companies rather than launching their own from scratch. Existing companies have well-defined product and service lines, loyal customers, reliable sources of revenue, in-house expertise and other qualities that buyers find attractive.
On the other hand, buying an existing company is a challenging, logistically complex process. It also requires substantial resources that many young entrepreneurs lack. For this reason, many founders choose to start companies from scratch—building their dreams from the ground up.
If you’ve chosen this route, you’ll need to give your nascent organization every possible chance to succeed. At minimum, you’ll need to do these six things to ensure that your company is one of the lucky 10 percent that make it.
- Understand Your Industry
Before you launch your startup, learn as much as you can about the industry. Employment experience is always preferable—many of the most successful founders worked in their future startups’ niches prior to striking out on their own. Complement real-world experience with intensive market research and technical investigations. You want to know at least as much about what you plan to do as the competitors who’ve already made it to market, and you need the confidence to address every realistic eventuality.
- Choose Your Moment Carefully
Don’t start your business before you—or the market—is ready. If your life situation isn’t conducive to a 24/7 startup lifestyle, hold off until conditions are more favorable. Delay on your launch until your market analysis suggests there’s a ready audience for your product or service.
- Don’t Try To Do Everything
Startup founders are expected to be generalists, but it’s simply not possible for them to do everything. Once your business is up and running, assign a discrete portfolio to each founder or key employee. As your company’s needs change, hire additional team members to fill specific roles. Ensure that these workers remain true to your company’s overarching vision, but don’t micromanage them—if they know more than you about a specific piece of their portfolio, your input may do more harm than good.
- Sell Friends, Family Members and Colleagues on Your Vision
Unless you’re fortunate enough to have a ready source of outside capital, you’ll need to rely on friends, family members and former colleagues for financial and logistical support. Devote ample time and resources to selling them on your vision and cultivating their largesse.
- Build Buzz Early
Your friends, family members and colleagues are useful for another reason: building buzz and fleshing out your critical pool of early adopters. Recruit people you know and like as evangelists for your brand, giving them deals or freebies on your products and services as necessary.
- Develop a Culture of Excellence
Clearly, startup businesses need to embrace a culture of excellence. In the rush to get off the ground amid competing demands for your attention and the ever-present sense of urgency fed by acutely limited resources, it’s tempting to cut corners on one project or another.
Resist this urge with all your being. Even if your customers are never going to see the fruits of a particular initiative, invest yourself fully in its completion. Encourage your partners and, later, employees to do the same. Excellence—and the continued pursuit thereof—builds on itself.