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You’ve got your great business idea, but how can you execute it? It’s easy to feel like passion and excitement are all you need to get a business off the ground. The rest will come together as you go along, right?
Wrong. Unfortunately, inspiration and emotion do not make a successful business. The good news, though, is that if you’re willing to invest some time, effort, and resources, you can dramatically increase your chances of success.
There are many easy-to-overlook factors that, when tended to properly, can give your startup a much higher chance of taking off. If you’re starting a business, here are three key areas to take into consideration as you prepare to get things up and running.
1. Purposefully develop your leadership skills
Focusing on your strengths is tempting as you look for ways to get a company off the ground. Maybe you’re good with money, have a creative eye, or a history in sales.
These are all good things, but there’s one area that you have to be comfortable with more than anything else if you want your startup to get going on the right foot: leadership.
One of the easiest business areas to underestimate is the demands and complexities of being an executive. CEOs and other members of the C-suite aren’t just responsible for making practical decisions in a startup. They also need to establish the heart and soul of your company.
If you and your founding partners need help finding your footing as a founding team, take time to invest in developing your leadership skills. You can do this by finding mentors or reading books on leadership. You can also work with an executive coaching firm to guide you.
If you’re launching a business, make cultivating leadership skills a priority.
2. Keep your founding team lean
As you look for ways to help your startup thrive, remember that you don’t want to inflate your staff with unnecessary hires. A lean, mean founding team is almost always the best recipe for success.
As you consider hiring your initial staff members, don’t “follow your gut” or listen to third-party advice — and for goodness sake, don’t hire your family members or best friends because they need work.
Instead, invest in a thoughtful, targeted hiring process. Co-founder of Under30CEO, Matt Wilson, recommends a three-step system for choosing each member of your bootstrap staff. This includes:
- A phone interview
- An in-person interview
- A group interview and reference check
Wilson adds that once hired, you should still keep an eye on new employees. “One of the hardest lessons I’ve learned with regards to staffing is that things are not always as they seem during the interview,” he says, adding, “Behavior, work ethic and attitude can shift once a new employee clicks out of interview mode and into work mode.”
The takeaway here? Build your team thoughtfully. Make each hire slowly and evaluate each team member as they settle in. Make sure everyone is buying into your startup culture, vision, and mission — and they’re contributing to your group efforts and pulling their own weight, too.
3. Stay flexible and ready to adapt
Finally, remember to stay flexible as your startup gets off the ground. This is commonly referred to as a “growth mindset.” Stanford psychologist Carol Dweck coined the phrase as a way to differentiate from a “fixed mindset” — that is, a stagnant belief that your abilities, talents, and intelligence are inherent and unchangeable.
In comparison, a growth mindset believes humans can grow and adapt to feedback.
While this is excellent self-help advice, it also applies to a startup mindset. As you build your business, remember to stay resilient, flexible, and ready to adapt to whatever circumstances arise as you go along.
Pivots have saved many companies in the past. Sometimes these happen within the scope of a business, such as Netflix shifting from DVDs to streaming. At other times, it is a full-blown deviation. That’s how Slack was born from a failed gaming company.
Whatever your startup’s initial goals may be, don’t be afraid to adjust them as you go along in the name of chasing success.
So there you have it. Develop your leadership skills. Keep your founding team lean. Stay flexible and adapt when necessary. If you can master those three elements, you can give your startup the best chance of starting on the right foot.