Online business guides make starting and managing a business sound like an adventure. Many people, however, struggle to hang on and enjoy the ride. In fact, 90% of all startups fail miserably, and the reasons are pretty simple.
For example, founders are overly optimistic about their efforts and don’t understand the harsh reality. Of course, starting a new business is an exciting thing, but failing to prepare for challenges is a bad idea that results in bad things.
While I completely understand that an introduction like this one is rather discouraging for startups, I also think that it’s good to emphasize the fact that many startups crash and burn because their founders fail to work smarter and harder.
That’s why I compiled the list of 12 dos and don’ts for startups to help them reach their goals.
DON’T LAUNCH A STARTUP SOLELY FOR THE MONEY
When people decide to launch a certain business purely for financial gain, chances are they’ll fail. Let’s consider this example. Lebron James, possibly the best basketball player on the planet, is worth about $400 million right now. Was money the main driver for him to get into the National Basketball Association? Of course not. This unbelievable money is the result of unmatched love for the game and the desire to be the greatest of all time.
The takeaways here are pretty clear: money should not be the main motivator for you. Why?
- Chances are you’re not going to make a lot of money at the beginning, which will break your heart if money is what you’re after.
- Profits can overshadow other more important things like caring for customers.
The bottom line: if you’re launching your startup to make tons of money, you’re doing it for the wrong reason.
DO AVOID PANIC
Doing business is all about overcoming challenges and solving problems. Surely, some of them will seem insurmountable, and your office energy can quickly become negative. But you shouldn’t worry.
A friend of mine launched his company in 2016 and was going through his fair share of problems in the beginning. He actually had a competitor from right across the street visit his offer and tell him that his company would go out of business within weeks because they didn’t know what they were doing.
My friend did what he was supposed to do: He politely asked that person to leave before anyone heard him saying these words. Can you imagine how demoralizing it would it be to his employees? The spirit of panic makes an immediate impact by demoralizing and distracting, so avoid it at all cost.
DO HIRE THE RIGHT PEOPLE
Hiring is difficult but hiring for startups can be even more difficult. Nobody knows you, so you don’t have the luxury of choosing the best candidates among thousands of people wanting to work for your new company.
Your best bet is to follow these practices:
- Hire people who share your vision. Is your startup “green” and selling environmentally friendly products? Well, you should look for people who share this viewpoint, because they’ll be more motivated. Read Timberland’s environmental policy for an example of a brand with an awesome vision.
- Be a great place to work. If your team loves working for you, chances are they’ll tell their friends about it. Word of mouth is a powerful tool for recruiting (in fact, according to LinkedIn, word of mouth is used by 50% of job seekers to get information on new jobs!).
- Offer interesting and challenging projects. “Job seekers consider professional development as one of the most important factors,” says Ryan Paine, a talent acquisition specialist at Proessaywriting. “Clearly, they won’t develop professionally if everything you have for them is boring, mundane work. Grab those who want to work on challenging projects!”
DON’T PLACE BLAME ON OTHERS
This is a tip for you as a startup owner. As your company leader, you’re responsible for everything, including failures. Don’t make excuses or blame others because it’ll be an easier way to forget about the failure and focus on what needs to be done to improve.
DO INVEST IN THE RIGHT TOOLS
Your people need to have the proper tools to ensure that your business follows the leading practices of marketing, customer support, and so on. By proper tools, I mean office supplies, computers, a content management system, and other software.
If you do your research, you’ll discover you can get a lot of software for free. Check out Inc’s list of essential tools for building your startup to see what’s available.
DON’T RUSH TO MOVE INTO AN OFFICE
Of course, having an office is cool, but can you really afford it at this point? If using your folks’ apartment as your office saves you money for business-related purposes, then that’s what you should do. If this ensures the survival of your startup, there’s no reason to be insecure about not having an office address.
After all, many big brands (including Apple, Amazon, and Disney!) began in garages and other facilities that aren’t exactly designed for doing business.
DO FOCUS ON CUSTOMER SERVICE
The importance of customer service for new companies is difficult to overstate. It can make or break your business, so doing your best is essential.
- Automate the process to respond to everyone. There are a lot of customer service tools for startups out there, so invest in them.
- Never promise something you can’t deliver if you want the customers to return.
- Implement 24/7 support if possible. Customers appreciate quick answers, so they’ll be glad to know that you’re always ready to assist them with any issues.
DO HAVE A RESPONSIVE WEBSITE
Google prioritizes websites that deliver an excellent user experience to mobile users, so check if your site is mobile-friendly using Google’s free mobile-friendliness test and make appropriate changes.
DO CONSIDER OUTSOURCING
Outsourcing for startups is a strategy worth considering because it reduces costs and eliminates the need to hire highly skilled people to do complex irregular projects. The core practices that make your brand unique, however, should not be outsourced because you wouldn’t have a complete control over them.
DO PRODUCE GREAT CONTENT
To ensure your content is relevant and interesting to readers, you should research the interests and typical problems of your target audience using reader personas. Also, you can identify the most popular topics on social media by using free tools like BuzzSumo.
DO FIRE FAST
If an employee’s performance doesn’t meet your expectations, parting ways as soon as possible is your best bet because you don’t have all the time and money in the world to grow your company. Every new employee should know you have a policy to hire for a one- or two-month trial period. You’ll know whether to keep or fire that employee after that trial period expires.
DO AVOID CHEAP CUSTOMERS
While you should strive to deliver an excellent service to everyone, try to focus on the customers who spend the most. Those demanding deep discounts are hardly worth your time because they’ll keep your profits low.
MAKE THESE STARTUP TIPS WORK FOR YOU
Managing startup is a challenging task, but these tips can help you level-up your startup’s game. Keep up the good work, learn lessons from every bump you experience along the ride, and turn your startup into a thriving business.