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Start Your Business Startup Basics

Startup Success Tips from Today's Tech Executives

Startup Success Tips from Today's Tech Executives
Credit: Rawpixel/Shutterstock

For every new tech startup that launches, there's one that fails, sometimes before it ever has a chance to get off the ground. Tech has become the go-to field for young, aspiring entrepreneurs, but because it's so competitive, it takes a lot to stand out and succeed. Business News Daily asked startup founders and executives in the tech space to share their best advice for navigating the challenges, misconceptions and trends of the industry.

The myth of fast-moving, instantly successful tech startups

"One of the most common misconceptions is that ... everything is going to move really fast, and that you have a business just because you have a business card. Before you have a business, you have to have a mission and a target customer who you want to help, whether you have the product to help them just yet or not. It takes longer than anyone thinks." – Chris Savage, CEO and co-founder of Wistia

"What surprises people, even when they've done it before, is how long it takes to get to the next step in the market, even when you have the most exciting, terrific, disruptive thing out there. There's a certain amount of added time that it takes to get people to recognize and engage with [your company]. Especially in the enterprise market, you're dealing with jaded people, [and] you have to prove yourself all over again." – Ellen Rubin, CEO of ClearSky Data

"There are moments when you cannot imagine how difficult it is [to] figure out what to do next. A lot of entrepreneurs [think it's] all glamour and parties, but the reality is the opposite of that. It's very daunting, hard work. There are times when you're down the hole and don't know how to get out." – Penny Herscher, CEO of FirstRain [5 Challenges Your Tech Startup Will Face (and How to Overcome Them)]

The all-important product and its timing

"Build a product with a robust go-to-market strategy. [It's] like the launchpad of a rocket. Poorly defined go-to market strategies are akin to the rocket blowing up after takeoff or going off course. To avoid such disastrous outcomes, a go-to market strategy must be executable. Make sure the strategy [is] clear, concise, accountable and actionable." – Kent Keilback, CEO of Admobix

"If your product is too early to market, you may fall short of getting the traction you feel is warranted. If your product is too late, you will likely have several other competitors ahead of you and lots of 'noise' to overcome. Be heads down and working as quickly as you can, but always cognizant of what is going on in the market as trends start to bubble up." – David Hirsch,managing partner of Metamorphic Ventures

"You have to make sure that your product is one that will be able to develop as rapidly as the industry. You also have to make sure that your product really works. A lot of the time with startups, the pursuit of investments might make you push your product out sooner than you should. And if your technology is full of glitches and bugs, you won't get another chance to launch it." – Loic Moisand, CEO and co-founder of Synthesio 

Raising (and spending) capital

"Most entrepreneurs don't have millions of dollars to invest in their own businesses. You will be raising money for the first few years. In fact, it will likely occupy most of your time for months at a time, and once you close a round, you need to start thinking about the next one almost immediately. In order to raise money, you'll need to convince investors that your total addressable market (TAM) is sufficiently large. [In other words, ask yourself,] 'If I sold my product to 100 percent of the target clients, how much money would I make in one year?' Sounds easy, but getting the TAM right is often fairly difficult, [and] getting it wrong will turn off savvy investors." – Mark Poirier, co-founder and executive vice president of business development at Acquisio

"Whatever amount of money your business plan says you need, raise double, because you're going to need more than you think. Be smart about your cash — a lot [of startups] are spending too much." – Penny Herscher

Internal and external support systems

"Have a strong extended network. Align yourself with people that share your passion, purpose and vision. Startup life is not a straight line, and 'team' is everything. Isolate those first few key hires, and build a dream-team advisory board that touches specific areas of execution and relevant expertise." – David Hirsch

"The old days of taking time to manage and grow business relationships is not a route tech startups can afford to take anymore. With the pressure of meeting revenue projections and milestones, the entrepreneur must take a more radical approach and find HR talent that already has established books of business that are transferable and [provide] immediate cash flows." –  Kent Keilback

"Make sure your family and friends are behind you. Your spouse should be supportive. If you have kids, talk to them about what you're trying to do and why." – Penny Herscher

Finding your focus

"Don't try to do too much. Too often, entrepreneurs want to outdo their competition by offering more than their product can or should do. More often than not, this leads to a product that does a lot but nothing exceptionally well. Start with a real customer need, focus on one solution and make sure that your product does that one thing better than anyone else. Do not try to be an 'all-in-one' solution if it means that you are sacrificing the quality of the product. An exceptional best-of-breed product will always beat an average product that claims to do everything." – Loic Moisand

"Being authentic about who you are and what you're going to do makes people excited to learn about and work with a startup. It seems easier to get to a big market, but the way to get [people] excited is to start with a really small group that you can serve really well. Focus in [on them]." – Chris Savage

"Sheer perseverance is underrated. In the startup life, you get up every day and figure out how to keep moving in the direction you want to go. [Don't] lose sight. Focus and think for the long haul." – Ellen Rubin

Originally published on Business News Daily.

Nicole Fallon
Nicole Fallon

Nicole Fallon received her Bachelor's degree in Media, Culture and Communication from New York University. She began freelancing for Business News Daily in 2010 and joined the team as a staff writer three years later. She currently serves as the assistant editor. Reach her by email, or follow her on Twitter.

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