Failure vs. Success: How to start and run a startup without ruining it

You will most certainly agree that creating a startup is hard work. Running it is even tougher. Many entrepreneurs that are now successful have once failed with their previous attempts.

Want a few examples?

Take perhaps the two most iconic persons in the tech industry – Bill Gates and Steve Jobs. Once Gates founded a company named Traf-O-Data, which analyzed data from traffic tapes, and failed. He did not manage to create a good product and sell it. But then he set up Microsoft and made it one of the most successful software companies ever.

And you know the story about Steve Jobs – one of the most innovative entrepreneurs ever was fired from his own company – Apple, only later to create a new company – NeXT, and get acquired by Apple.

The bottom line:

As you see nobody is protected from failure, not even the greatest ones.

Back in 2011 Startup Genome Report was released showing that about 92% of all tech startups fail. Whoa! That means that your chances of success are only 8%. Sounds bad? Yes, it is!

But do not give up on your ideas now. Our purpose is not to discourage you from following your dreams. Just the opposite! Our goal is to help you achieve them.

The first thing you need to know to run a startup is that there is no sure way to success and you are not protected from failing. But there are ways of making failure less possible. And we have made a list of some really good ones:

Do not start unless your idea is absolutely great

run a startup

We hear this from a lot of entrepreneurs these days and it is one of the first things you need to consider when launching a new business.  Once one of the most famous startups now Airbnb was going through the Y Combinator seed fund. And what the startup mentor Paul Graham told to Airbnb CEO Brian Chesky was truly great. He told him ““Build something 100 people love, not something 1 million people kind of like.”.

And that is what you need to achieve as well. If you want to run your startup the proper way and prevent yourself from failing, you need an idea that is so good so that people will beg you to give you their money and will stand in lines to buy it. Unless you have that idea, you better not start at all.

Find the right co-founder

run a startup

How do you know if you have found the right co-founder? It is like knowing that you have married the right person. You have a clue, but you cannot be sure at first. But in the same time having a business partner that is not appropriate for you leads to only one thing – failure.

That is why you need to look for a person that is familiar with your industry, but not exactly with the same background. For example, if you are a tech geek, you most probably lack financial or sales skills. So you need a partner that is familiar with these.

Another important aspect is to find a co-founder that has the same goals for your company as yours. If both of you want to target different markets, you will most definitely fail.

Do not start big

run a startup

If you want to succeed, do not start big. At first it may sound strange, but in fact this is one of the best advices you will ever hear. When launching a product or service do not waste many resources in instantly delivering too many functions. Instead start with something small and if you see that people like it, ask about it and want more of it, build on. That why you guarantee that you do not waste a whole year in developing a product only to see that nobody wants to buy it.

Keep your focus

run a startup

Another mistake startups often do is to lose their focus. When you create a plan about your business, follow it and do not change it too often. Many companies start doing something and then they come up with 10 more ideas they think are great and they ultimately lose their primary focus.

Hire the right people

run a startup

Your idea might be great, but not having the right team will set you up against a big hurdle. And by having the right time, we mean having a team that you do not need to manage every other second. In our opinion, the best option is to hire people that are smarter than you, so you do not need to babysit them and always tell them what to do and how to do it.

Do not be afraid of networking

run a startup

Networking is essential for entrepreneur. It has so many benefits that we will need a whole new article if we want to mention them all. But for a business owner networking is good as it gives you the opportunity to meet new potential clients and customers. No business thrives on its own and in isolation. So do not be afraid to go to industry-specific events and talk to people there, even with your competitors.

Be prepared to work day and night

run a startup

Every day we watch successful business owners on TV, we read about startups and entrepreneurs in the news, and we think that their life is great – they do not have a boss and make tons of money. But in fact in the most cases launching your own business means hard work (way more than the usual 9 to 5 schedule) and no salary.

If you are not prepared to work long hours without sure incoming, you better not start.

Sales matter

run a startup

Another huge mistake is that many entrepreneurs underestimate the sales process when they launch a new business. They only think of their idea and how to make it happen, but then they do not have the necessary skills to sell what they do. One way to solve this problem is to find a business partner with experience in sales and business development. That way you can focus on your product or service and leave the selling to a person who knows how to do it.

Find customers before you have a product

run a startup

This tip applies to all kind of new businesses. Whatever is that you do, finding your first customers after your product or service is already launched, is too late. Instead you need to build demand earlier. Sell whatever you do before you have it. You might think that is impossible, but there are ways to do it.

A good option is to offer pre-order. A lot companies, especially, in the tech industry, do it these days. Offering something at pre-order means that you allow customers to buy before you officially release it. Then they receive your product after it is released.

Do not be obsessed with your business

run a startup

We left that for the final, but it is as essential as all the other. Although it is very important to love what you do it is twice more important not to be obsessed with it. Do not look at your business as crucial for your life. Look at it as way of growing, as a path towards greater success. At a certain point your business will either fail (we hope it doesn’t!) or grow and get sold, and you will need to cope with a new reality. In both situations not being desperately obsessed with it will help you move forward.