As startup enthusiasts, many of us actively run companies or would like to launch our own company one day (like myself). The thought of turning our innovative ideas into reality is tantalizing. Yet, it is no easy feat. Unsurprisingly, data shows that 80-90% of startups fail.
Learning from our CEO Jayson Ho and reading about the most successful entrepreneurs, I have found that these are the most crucial steps in the preparation of launching a startup. They are less about standard business protocol and more about self-reflection. Preparing to launch a startup company requires a great deal of self-awareness:
What are your goals?
When entering the startup ecosystem, it is much like jumping into the deep end. However, with some planning, you can at least look where you are going. Many startups fail because they do not have roadmaps for the long-term – they tend to be from point A to point B (making profit, spinning off an IPO, selling). Before taking the necessary steps to launch your company, make a detailed business plan for yourself, not only investors. This will allow you to set milestones and benchmarks to track your company’s progress.
Additionally, you need to define success. Is it about making money? Think about what you want to achieve more specifically – short term and long term. Perhaps you see your company expanding in the future or you dream of spinning off your IPO. Launching a startup is not just about surviving – it is about vision and the kind of impact you want to make.
Know your strengths and weaknesses
Our CEO Jayson Ho often says, “Do not fight against the tide.” In other words, know where you do not perform well. Swimming upstream will cost you time and money, leading to a high risk of failure. Sit down and write down all of your strengths and weaknesses – both tangible and intangible skills/qualities. You need to have a deep understanding of what you are good at and what you are not – perhaps it is managing people, communication, or even patience.
Once you understand your strengths, leverage them completely. Your company should specialize in what you are good at and passionate about. Confucius once said, “Follow your passion and you will never work a day in your life.” Your company should be central to who you are and what you bring to the table.
“Follow your passion and you will never work a day in your life.”
Then, be humble and work with your weaknesses. This can be done by outsourcing through another company; for instance, hiring contractors for coding or another for accounting. Additionally, you can work with your weaknesses by actively improving – perhaps by learning the native language if your company is foreign.
Leverage your network
Relationships are crucial in the business world. The startup world is competitive, but it is also a highly collaborative environment. Make allies and build your network – utilize coworking spaces, join Meetups, and attend startup conferences. Meetups are a great way to get to know other startup enthusiasts and expand your knowledge.
Meeting others with different areas of expertise will help you learn and potentially offer opportunities for collaboration/partnerships. Maintain these relationships in the long-run and you will find yourself as a serial-networker. A large network will provide support and resources as you launch your startup, allowing you to curb obstacles and competition more easily.
D8ii hosts several Meetups monthly, check them out here.
Expect challenges and be unwavered
Obstacles will certainly be inevitable, whether they manifest through financial budgets, strategizing, or market penetration. In the months (and years) to come, rejection and hardships will greet you before success ever does. Keep your commitment, passion, and vision unwavered during the most difficult times to move forward.
Additionally, keep the momentum going on your team – continue to motivate and reward them. When your team is equally ambitious, your company’s drive will be unmatched. Lastly, allow time for yourself away from work when needed – so that you can recharge and be unstoppable.
You can learn more about embracing adversity here.