The startup community is filled with platitudes about failure. Most recently, Vinod Khosla gave his view on failure after FAILCon 2011. Yes, there is actually a conference about failing. I’m too morose to link to it.
If you’re anything like me, constantly reading about failure gets you depressed. Isn’t there a reason entrepreneurs build new products, raise millions of dollars in funding, and disrupt old industries? For a moment, I want to focus on the achievement of every entrepreneur’s hopes and dreams. In the spirit of success, here are 10 reasons why your start up will succeed.
1. You went above and beyond to close a sale you ultimately lost.
Selling is hard; especially selling a product that is young, buggy, and unknown. All startups fight tooth and nail for sales and lose them. The important thing — especially for the technical founders out there — is to realize that there are always more customers, and selling is one of the most useful skills you can master.
2. You stayed up two hours late to polish that presentation or new feature.
Sleep keeps you sane in the long run, but you know how hard eight uninterrupted hours is to come by. There are times to pull an all-nighter and times to get some rest, and you’re getting better at making those decisions every day.
3. You talked to your customers, took them to coffee and actually befriended them.
Your customers are your lifeblood. Even though you are immersed in your product, someone else has to find value in what you make. Be glad you found a customer who takes your calls and give you detailed feedback. Reward yourself — go grab a beer (with your customer, of course.)
4. You found someone complementary to hire or bring on as a co-founder.
The journey from startup to established company is rough. Many describe it as a roller coaster, except its ups and downs can last for weeks at a time. Not many people can withstand this stress alone. Luckily, you found someone who can complement your skillset and help you emotionally when times get tough.
5. You cut costs to extend your runway.
The timeline from start to success varies greatly, so the goal in the earliest stages of a company is to give yourself the longest runway possible. You need to give your business time to develop by keeping business and personal costs low. Let’s face it, at this point, the two are pretty much synonymous.
6. You thought about marketing before you needed it.
Most entrepreneurs I’ve talked to recently said they struggle most with marketing. I think this is because marketing just takes time. A skilled programmer can compress the time it takes to build a product, but a good marketer still needs time to build a presence and gain a following
7. You are out meeting people multiple times a week.
Networking is small-scale marketing. You can network with investors, customers, other entrepreneurs, pretty much everyone. Most cocktail mixers and conferences might be duds, but sometimes they can yield a first customer, star salesman, or big partnership.
8. You started a company that leveraged your network and expertise.
The most successful entrepreneurs are the ones that leverage their expertise and network. That’s why the young successful entrepreneurs are the ones that have been programming since 12 and young startups try to bring in as many angels on their seed round as possible. You want to build products quickly and get an important meeting in just a few phone calls.
9. You tell everyone how great your product/service is.
As Vivek Wadha says, when your company is young, everyone sells. You have to be passionate about your product to be talking about it constantly, and so does everyone else in your company.
10. You know when you need a break, and you take it.
Startups are an endless stream of work. There are new products to launch, marketing analytics to gather, and garbage to take out. Since you are in this for the long haul, you know how to take a break when necessary. Veg out to a few episodes of Mad Men, but then get back to work.
While it’s important to accept failure as part of the entrepreneurial process, entrepreneurs should be in the mindset of success. That drive is what keeps you up at night, outgoing at conferences, and aggressive on sales calls. Most of all, your passion shines through in your product and the company you build.
Why will you succeed?
Image credit: Scott Allison, jayneandd, buddawiggi, Ashley Good