Just because you’re starting your own company, doesn’t mean that you’re on your own. You’re now part of a thriving community of fellow founders and entrepreneurs, who you can reach out to for encouragement and support with vital startup lessions.
This is important to remember, because sometimes it might not feel that way. The challenge of doing your own thing is exciting and liberating, and that’s great. But sometimes it can also be stressful, confusing, and isolating. Loneliness can hinder your performance, so you need to make sure you stay connected with people who understand.
Lessons From Successful Startup Founders
Startup founders and entrepreneurs from various fields have already offered some useful lessons to help you get started. HeadwayCapital have put together this handy infographic of 20 bite size lessons from startup founders to get you started.
You might feel nervous or cynical about looking to others for support, but it’s important that you do. According to Michelle Schroeder, founder of lifestyle website Making Sense of Cents, “The most painful mistake I see first-time entrepreneurs make is to see others in their niche as competition. This can hold you back.” Engaging with your peers could be one of the most rewarding parts of your new career.
Networking within your niche, or more generally with other entrepreneurs, can be a great way to build sympathetic and supportive relationships, find out useful information about your industry, and get strategic tips and recommendations. Schroeder recommends going to industry events and conferences to keep up-to-date with your fields and seek out opportunities to meet people.
Find a mentor
Networking is a great way to make contact with peers for mutual support, and also to find out about any mentors who may be available to help you. Many established business leaders have a wealth of experience that could really help you to build effective strategies and avoid making mistakes.
Kimberly Eberl, founder and CEO of Motion PR advocates finding “a solid mentor to coach you, introduce you to people, and bounce ideas off of,” because “nothing can really prepare you for the real-life hurdles of owning a business.” A great mentor should be passionate about what they do, have the appropriate expertise to guide you, and be someone that you can trust not to coddle you, but to hit you with hard truths from time to time.
An inspired idea won’t get you very far unless you put in the time and effort to make something of it. It’s really important that you know how to organise your time so that you can put your business plan in motion. Marketing training entrepreneur and founder of B School, Marie Forleo says that developing a consistent routine is one of the most vital startup lessons and “can do more for your long-term growth and fulfilment than anything else.”
Think about how you can segment your working day to encourage bursts of productivity. For example you can separate your daily tasks into small chunks and mini tasks to establish a habitual working practice, and then portion out longer chunks of time to focus on one key activity over days and weeks.
Know your project
It might sound pretty simple, but it’s vital that you have proper clarity about your idea.. Larry Kim, founder of Facebook marketing platform MobileMonkey says that “It takes so much time and effort to go all-in on a business idea,” so aspiring entrepreneurs need to be able to articulate why it is unique and viable.
When you’re getting started with your business plan, you need to run a SWOT analysis to get a thorough understanding of the strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats of your idea. If your strength and opportunities prove that your idea is worth pursuing, you will also benefit from being aware of weaknesses and threats that you need to address.
Whether you are self funded or reliant on loans or investors, you really can’t afford to mess around when it comes to budgeting for your startup. Most startups are financially unstable at first, and unnecessary outgoings could set you back if things don’t go to plan. Noah Kagan, founder of software deals site AppSumo says you shouldn’t “waste time or spend money on non-core issues when starting a business.”
Kagan goes further, saying, “In fact, don’t spend any money until you make some.” That’s a pretty extreme stance. Of course, some things are worth investing in from the outset, such as your business plan, market research, legal and financial advice and customer service.
Startup Lessons Conclusion: Don't lose sight of the bigger picture
When you have a wonderful idea, it can be really tempting to try to do everything all at once. However, it’s easy to get distracted from your grand plan by the details of the work itself. Rhett Power, co-founder of toy company Wild Creations says “New entrepreneurs spend too much time working in their business and not enough time working on it.”
It’s very important to continue to develop the business side of things and “think strategically about the big picture.” A set of SMART (Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant, and Time-based) goals should be part of your initial business plan, and something that you allocate time to review and revise on a frequent basis.
Take a look at the infographic for more useful lessons from successful startup founders.