Secrets To Startup Success That VC’s Won’t Tell You

Posted in: Business

The idea of launching your own startup is definitely an exciting one.

Working as your own boss, making your own decisions, and taking your company in the direction you desire are all exciting prospects. If you're like most entrepreneurs, you've got endless amounts of ambition and big dreams for your startup. However, ambition and dreams aren't always enough to reach success. Read on to explore a few of the best-kept secrets to startup success that you won't hear from your average venture capitalist.

Follow Passion (Not Money)

Of course, venture capitalists are all about that bottom line. But you, as an entrepreneur, will never be successful if you're not passionate about what your company has to offer and only see dollar signs. While it may be tempting to get into a specific industry that's financially lucrative, you'll likely end up regretting it down the road if you don't have genuine interest.

You see, you've got to believe in your brand. You need to be passionate about it and be willing to pour your heart and soul into it. Otherwise, you'll be miserable and your target customers will see it. Oh, and hire a team that's willing to put 110% into your company as well.

Go Big or Go Home

No matter what industry you find yourself in, you've got to dream big. Always be striving towards a huge goal, even if it seems unattainable at the time. The most successful startup entrepreneurs are the ones who take chances and shoot for the stars. If you aim for mediocrity, you'll have a mediocre business.

Of course, a venture capitalist won't likely give you this kind of advice. Why? Because dreaming big is inherently risky. If you have high aspirations and don't reach them, you might lose out on profits. But that's where ambition and perseverance come into play; keep challenging yourself and your team. It'll pay off in the end.

Don't Rule Out Crowdfunding

All venture capitalists are going to act in their best interests--not necessarily yours. As such, if you find yourself in need of funding to launch your startup or to continue pushing your startup in the direction you want it to go, a VC is likely going to warn you to stay away from crowdfunding as an option.

However, crowdfunding can and often is a great way to get the funding you need from multiple sources rather than relying on one investor. Of course, pursuing a crowdfunding campaign will require just as much (if not more) energy and effort from you as would seeking funding from a VC; still, the end result can be worth it when you have the funding you need in addition to a group of investors who truly believe in your brand.

Considering crowdfunding for your startup? For the best chances of gathering support, aim for a campaign that:

  • is engaging

  • tells a story

  • incorporates video

  • shows investors what's in it for them

Just GO For It

While it's important to have done your research and written a viable business plan (or “business guess” as I like to call it), too many new entrepreneurs make the mistake of holding off on launching their startups until every last detail is in place.

If you wait until everything's perfect before you decide to pull the trigger on your startup, you'll never be confident enough to launch. Instead, keep in mind that many of the most successful startup companies were launched with plenty of loose ends and "what if?" scenarios. Heck, when I first started, I traveled the country demoing a software I hadn’t developed yet!

Understand that there's never going to be a perfect time to take the plunge. Instead, have a little faith in yourself, your team, and the research you've done this far. Anticipate challenges--lots of challenges--along the way, but have the confidence and knowledge you need to overcome each obstacle as it presents itself.

Be All In

Another piece of advice that you likely won't hear from a VC is that, in order to be successful as an entrepreneur, you'll probably need to let your startup consume just about every aspect of your life. Many people make the mistake of thinking they can launch a startup and continue working 9-5. This is never the case with a successful startup.

Be prepared to work long hours. Be prepared to lose sleep. Be prepared to make sacrifices in other areas of your life (at least in those first few years) in order to get your business heading in the direction you want it to go. Say goodbye to long weekends and being able to "punch out" on a time clock and forget about your work responsibilities.

When you're an entrepreneur running a business, you're never off the clock. If you do "punch out" emotionally or mentally, your business will suffer because of it. This might seem harsh, but if a successful startup is your ultimate goal, the hard work you put in towards the beginning will pay off exponentially in the long run.

Take Care of Yourself

Sure, this might seem a little contradictory to the above tip regarding dedicating the majority of your time to your startup. But let's be real: you can't function if you don't take care of yourself. Keep your mind sharp and your body healthy by doing your best to get at least 30 minutes of exercise each day.

On days when you can't possibly fathom finding the time to hit the gym, give yourself five minutes in the middle of your busy day to go for a walk or do some meditating. A little bit goes a long way, even if it means doing something as simple as taking the stairs instead of the elevator at your office building.

Find a Mentor

Too many entrepreneurs operate under the assumption that they're on their own in their business ventures; they shouldn't have people helping them along the way. However, this couldn't be further from the truth. Having a mentor can help you reach your goals faster.

Ideally, a mentor should be somebody who's already been in a position similar to yours and has proven successful in the past. This could be another business owner, a friend, a colleague, or just someone you look up to. But, be careful about working with a mentor who has a conflict of interest with your startup; for example, you'll want to avoid working with people in your same industry who may be considered competition.

Finally, if you can find a mentor who doesn't ask for anything in return from you, that's going to be your best bet. However, this isn't always easy. If nothing else, consider offering a share in your company's stock or some other small financial compensation to a person who offers to mentor you.

There are many "secrets to success" when it comes to starting a successful business, but there's also a lot that VCs won't tell you because of the difference in priorities. At the end of the day, by following the above tips for success, you'll be in the best position to launch or develop a successful startup.

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