3 Tough Lessons for new Business Startup EntrepreneursLast Updated: January 1, 2019
It is crucial for the new business startup entrepreneur to prepare for a tough road in the early stages. Here are three of the toughest lessons you will learn. If you succeed, you will remember them for the rest of your career.
THE startup phase is not for the faint of heart, but a fundamentally simple approach is likely to see new business startup entrepreneurs through. Efficiency is the key, as is trying to conserve the necessary mental and physical energy to focus on the all-important ‘big picture’ and long-term business goals. Here are three of the toughest lessons new business startup entrepreneurs are likely to receive in their earliest stages.
1. Put Yourself in Your Customers’ Shoes
BEING successful in business means continually reassessing the purpose and unique selling point of your product or service.
Former tech entrepreneur Grace Regan jointly took innovative audio news app Clippet to the point of attracting interest in Silicon Valley, but brought the project to an end when she lost the belief that the service she was pitching for was truly necessary.
“I was continually asking myself, ‘Do I care about this?’ and ‘Do I genuinely believe the world needs this?’,” Regan told AGENT.
The problem was that Clippet’s human dimension had been tweaked into an automated service that she no longer felt passionate about, and so she walked away.
An extreme example, and possibly unthinkable for the average new business startup, but truly, if such questions are occurring in your mind, it’s an indication that not everything is well in terms of your connection to the business. Over the long-term, this could spell major trouble and painful failure.
The reality is that your target market will sometimes be quite indifferent—and even not really care at all—about the aspects of your service or product that you take most pride in.
You have to work hard to figure out what customers want.
Despite Steve Jobs’ famous remark that people don’t really know what they’re looking for until you show it to him, his every interaction with developers and designers showed that he cared intensely that customers would identify Apple products with simplicity and ease of use.
Jobs’ biographer Walter Isaacson wrote that Jobs was “totally immersed” in the iPod, and his relentlessly repeated demand was: “Simplify!”
“[Jobs] would go over each screen and apply a rigid test: If he wanted a song or a function, he should be able to get there in three clicks. And the click should be intuitive. If he couldn’t figure out how to navigate to something, or if it took more than three clicks, he would be brutal,” Isaacson writes.
So, be honest with yourself. This is business. Not personal. Tell yourself that, over and over, treating your ego like Tony Soprano dishing out mob wisdom to some flunky until you see the light.
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2. Keep Focused and Lean
KEEPING lean is another huge challenge for the average new business startup. It’s about learning not to bite off more than you can chew.
At a micro day-to-day level, if you don’t keep things manageable and achievable, you’ll have a chaotic operation.
And big problems can occur if, in your eagerness to secure funding to take your new business startup beyond the intial stage, if you take on more investment than your business actually requires.
It’s important to look at the situation critically, possibly by considering your business from the perspective of those on the other side of the table in the investor’s boardroom.
Try to look on your effort to secure investment as something that is already understood. Your actual pitch for funding is not of primary interest to them. What they’re looking for is passion and commitment, and sound business thinking, not a pitch for money that may be not be appropriate for the level of business you are operating at.
AGENT frequently reads the articles and interviews of tech entrepreneur and investor, Yoav Leitersdorf, who frequently cautions young businesses about taking on too much investment. Leitersdorf’s pitch to WhatsApp founders Jan Kourn and Brian Acton was turned down, but what he remembers is not the rejection, but, as he told Bloomberg Business, “the most humble, intelligent, determined, in-love-with-their-baby, understated pair of entrepreneurs I have ever come across”.
Keeping your operation effective means keeping it lean—it’s one of the key things startups need to remember in the year one battleground.
3. Stay True to Yourself
YOU’RE at a stage of your business development where you are most likely going to be at your peak as a listener. Even AGENT frequently extols the virtues of mentoring.
However, the important thing for the entrepreneurial mind behind a new business startup is to be selective and make sure you’re listening to the right advice.
The right advice is the advice that is appropriate for you.
That’s why it is is most important to adhere to the core purpose of your business, your motivation and driving engine, and come to know intuitively what is appropriate and what is not.
Here is a fascinating little video that within its very brief running time illustrates this conundrum—or what could be a conundrum if you are not immersed fully within and deeply connected to your business.
It’s a Simply Business debate via Skype, in which David Galbraith of SWIG Flasks, discusses experiences that arise from apparently ‘bad’ advice.
If that doesn’t convince you, consider what Shark Tank star Mark Cuban wrote on his blog in 2012, about being advised to “follow his passion”.
“What a bunch of BS,” Cuban fumes on his aptly named BlogMaverick, about the thing that startups are advised perhaps more than any other thing.
“If you have been able to have some success, what was the key to the success,” Cuban writes. “Was it the passion or the effort you put in to your job or company?”
“If you really want to know where your destiny lies, look at where you apply your time.” he advises.
In a field where passion is prized, Cuban’s writing is counter-intuitive stuff. But it works for him, and how! He has a net worth of $3.2bn. There is a lesson in there.
So here’s the takeaway from this crucial lesson for new business startup entrepreneurs—know and be true to yourself, and most importantly, work very, very hard.