Originally published in Right Startups.
In the world of business there is nothing more valuable than experience, and the advice of those more experienced than you. This week, 8 startup founders shared their views on what they perceived to me the best decisions they ever made concerning their businesses. Each one disclosed their single most important decision ever made and why.
The panel is comprised of 8 successful entrepreneurs belonging to the YEC, Young Entrepreneur Council. Without further ado, here is what they each had to say.
1. The Right Co-founder is Everything
One of the best pieces of advice is to choose a cofounder carefully. A cofounder will be the other half of the backbone, which keeps the company running. This person will spend more time with you than anyone else, including any spouse. Therefore its important for the relationship between the two, be completely tolerant and honest.
Cofounders must be able to express when they’re not comfortable with an idea, and when the other person is getting on their nerves. But what’s more important is that they be committed to the project, and able to get over small fights and move forward. It’s a given that founders will fight and they will get mad at each other for weeks. But in order to keep a company running, they must be able to get over it and not hold grudges.
Customers and investors can see when cofounders have a respectful and committed relationship. It gives them a sense of confidence in the company. So in conclusion, a cofounder should not be someone you’re just friends with. They have to have the same passion in the company and professionalism to see it through.
– Martina Welke, Zealyst
2. Invest in a Mixergy Subscription or Mentor
According to Derek Capo from the Next Step China startup, his greatest decision was investing in a Mixergy subscription. This service compiles mentors abroad, advice, and courses. Through the service Capo was able to get real experience stories from mentors, and gain insight on what to expect from rejection, before they had to endure the pain.
This service was indispensable to the Next Step China team in thickening their skin, and gaining experience without first having to endure it.
– Derek Capo, Next Step China
3. Success Depends on the People
Aside from picking the right cofounder, the administrative team should take care to hire only the best that they can afford. This is referring to a staff that has a passion for the success of the company as well, who will be willing to put in nights or even weekends during the early stages.
Founders should be wary of employees who hold an ulterior motive for being a part of the company, or want to work there simply for their personal benefits. These are the employees that will jump ship whenever the going gets rough. The team needs to be able to function well together and be qualified in their tasks. This means no hiring friends just for the heck of it. Unless the employee can do their job, the company will not get anywhere, and money will be wasted on a salary.
– Danny Boice, Speek
4. Not Every Client is the Right Client
The biggest mistake a startup can make is taking on clients that do not benefit the core values of the company. This results in a huge consumption of energy on behalf of the team, and usually all they get in return is a relatively small amount of money. The company needs to serve clients that are on the same page as them. These clients will need the dedicated attention of the team, which is otherwise spent on unbeneficial clients.
Founders need to be able to distinguish the two and have the courage to say no to the wrong clients. Money is not everything, especially when looking for growth and experience.
– Cory Blake, Round Table Companies.
5. Stay Away from Crowded Markets
Business is successful when the company has a valid market to serve. A startup should locate a market that is not crowded, or already have enough large providers. This is not good for competition as everything has pretty much been thought of. Instead they should focus on a market that does not have enough providers or technology. A market they can bring new strategies and products to.
– David Ehrenberg, Early Growth Financial Services
6. Jump In
Many startup thinkers are wary of starting their endeavors for many reasons. This can be due to a lack of funding, not enough time, or just the fear of the overwhelming negative success rates of startups. But they will never know what lies beyond if they do not try. The best advice Nicholas Gremion can give is to just jump into the water and test it.
– Nicolas Gremion, Free-eBooks.net.
7. Focus on One Thing
In the beginning, startups should not be all over the place. They should focus on one market, and provide that market with a product, key word here is A, not many. This allows the team to focus on one goal. There is a greater chance of success when doing this. Focusing on too many goals consumes too much energy and resources, which are vital to the beginning stages of a startup.
Its best to get a footing with one goal and then expand with more products, or branch out to other markets.
– Shradha Agarwal, ContextMedia.
8. Research the Market Personally
Sure founders can have others research the company’s market. But doing it themselves will allow them to learn more about their own inner workings, than they would if they left that research to a third party. Always ensure adequate advice and services are sought out by qualified attorneys.
– Bryan Silverman, Star Toilet Paper.