You've gone through the basic steps to start your business — registering and licensing it, creating a website, setting up your social media accounts, writing a business plan, etc. But some of the most important components of starting up are the intangible ones you won't see on many "how to start a business" checklists.
Though the following steps may seem like common sense, some entrepreneurs still manage to overlook them in all the excitement — and chaos — of starting a business. Here are four things you can't afford to skip if you want to set your startup on the path to success.
Name your purpose
Successful entrepreneurs don't start a business "just because." Most startups are born out of a passion — whether that's a passion for doing something, or a passion for solving a frustrating problem. Whatever your reason is, make sure you know how to articulate it clearly and effectively to everyone involved with your company.
"Make sure your startup has a purpose; a reason for being that your customers, partners and employees can care about and get behind," said Derek Roos, CEO and founder of app development platform Mendix. "Mendix's purpose was born out of our personal frustrations with traditional application development approaches. When my founders and I come up with the idea for the company, we knew it would resonate in a big way."
Similarly, Avner Mor, co-founder and CEO of encryption and authentication solutions provider Dyadic, said would-be entrepreneurs should know why they're motivated — and be sure that it's for the right reasons.
"If you are just looking to get rich quick from an exit, then you have smaller chance of surviving the inevitable roller-coaster ride," Mor told Business News Daily. "All entrepreneurs should be working for something bigger than themselves, and if they are not, they should take a hard look at why they're in the game." [Are You Ready to Start a Business?]
Create a diverse team
If you're planning to be a solopreneur, you won't have to worry about building your founding team. However, if you're looking for business partners, make sure their experiences and backgrounds can complement yours by filling in any gaps.
"Pick really diverse founders," said Justin Benson, CEO of payment solutions provider Spreedly. "That way, you have expertise [that's] as broad as possible in-house from the beginning."
Scott Tannen, CEO of bedding and linens company Boll & Branch, agreed, and said he and his wife. Missy, work well as co-founders because they have completely different skill sets.
"There's nothing worse than when co-founders find themselves stepping on each other's toes because their talents are redundant," Tannen said. "In our case, we have the deep trust that co-founders need to have, but we also do entirely different things. Too many people choose to start companies with people just like them — I think that is awfully dangerous."
Raefer Gabriel, CEO of Delvv, reminded entrepreneurs that trust is essential when it comes to creating the ideal startup team. Make sure you consider trustworthiness, in addition to skills, when choosing your business partners.
"Trust is everything in the early stage of a business," Gabriel said. "If you can't trust your partners, you're doomed to spin wheels and end up in a dispute. When something goes wrong, and it inevitably will, a person who isn't trustworthy will gladly stab you in the back. If you have to ask yourself whether or not you trust somebody, then you probably shouldn't."
Mor said the most important step he took in starting and growing his business was developing a good relationship with his co-founders.
"A spirit of friendship, trust and harmony is essential," Mor said. "It's critical to partner with founders that show you your weaknesses and help you work through business conflicts. After all, it isn't optimal to operate in a vacuum."
Minimize your risks
No entrepreneurial venture comes without risk. The key to success is understanding those risks and trying to minimize them with strategic planning. David Ruggieri, CEO of Florida Technical College and a mentor to aspiring entrepreneurs, advises his students to come up with a carefully prepared plan before they dive into their business ideas.
"Study after study shows that the majority of businesses fail, not because there isn't a need for them in the market, but because of an ill-prepared plan or the absence of one," Ruggieri said. "You need to plan on how money is going to be handled, how you're going to brand and promote yourself, how are you going to grow and even when are you going to give yourself downtime to recharge your batteries. [Your] idea helps you decide what kind of business to launch, but the plan is what enables you to succeed."
Ruggieri also recommended looking at your competition — particularly the businesses that didn't survive — to learn from their mistakes.
"If you want to be a pet groomer, you need to know what other pet groomers are in your area and also which no longer are," he said. "What happened to them? Evidently, we didn't run out of pets. This exercise will shed light on strategies that work and those that don't. Also, bear in mind that success leaves clues. Identify entrepreneurs that have successfully done what you're attempting to do and look at how they did it. Learn from their experience."
Build up your personal resilience
Entrepreneurship is one of the most rewarding career choices you can make, but it's also one of the most difficult. You're in for a lot of challenges when you start a business, so knowing how to bounce back in the face of adversity is an invaluable skill to have.
"Being at the helm of a startup, you go through volatile ups and downs — on a typical day you can wake up feeling like everything is on course, and by the afternoon the world can feel like it's collapsing," Mor said. "To overcome this, [you] need to develop an internal sense of personal tenaciousness and resiliency."
This personal resiliency is also critical to your ability to remain true to yourself when you receive conflicting startup advice.
"[Startup advice] is often contradictory and only works if you have the same personality type as the adviser," Benson said. "Always listen and learn, but try and have a core set of beliefs and don't get too swayed."