Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.
It is easy to romanticize launching a technology startup. Promising entrepreneurs often imagine success favoring those with an innovative idea, a stomach for failure and a penchant for hard work. And while those are certainly some of the prerequisites to creating a successful startup, building one is a long and arduous journey that can be marked by difficult decisions, limited resources and a steep learning curve.
Building a company has been among the most difficult things that you could do, but it can also be among the most rewarding. Beyond learning the importance of having the right partners in your corner, hiring the right people with strong skill sets, and navigating the daily challenges and constant ups and downs of the journey, there are other key lessons that may help others achieve success with launching a business.
Spotting opportunity is the first step
Great entrepreneurs identify needs in the market. They locate problems, and they develop solutions. Success often comes from the recognition of an opportunity to serve an untapped segment of the market. Entrepreneurs need a vision for products or services that create a better or unique experience, something that is more efficient, user-friendly or engaging than other solutions in the marketplace. Once the idea and opportunity have been identified, that’s when you must take action. The willingness to act is what separates entrepreneurs from employees.
You must persevere, especially early on
A good idea is, of course, foundational to launching a technology company, but coming up with one is no easy feat. In fact, the only part of the journey that is more difficult than conceiving a winning idea is having the courage to put it into action.
Start by defining the concept, remembering that the idea does not need to be original. You might have a wholly novel idea, but successful startups also emerge from improving upon existing products or services. Either will require data to corroborate your vision and the market demand. While this is an iterative process reliant on open feedback and criticism, you must also retain a fundamental belief in the idea, the vision and the need for your product.
Early on, your concept will likely have little support or backing, so unyielding passion and confidence in the venture are necessary each and every day. This will build momentum for the business but also help you develop resolve as a leader and give you the strength to make critical decisions.
You’ll never stop learning
Accept early that you are going to make countless mistakes along the way. You are going to get things wrong, and you will find yourself navigating challenges throughout your career. It’s part of the entrepreneur’s DNA and par for the course as a business leader.
But those missteps provide an opportunity to learn and grow. You learn more from mistakes than from successes, so embrace them when they arrive and find the lesson in the experience.
Mistakes may come as you fill early staffing needs and perform roles outside of your expertise. That will change as you grow your team, so be ready to delegate tasks and heed guidance. Great leaders surround themselves with people who have strengths that are different from and complementary to their own.
Ultimately, fear of making mistakes can’t impede growth. You’ll have to take chances and be accountable for the outcome.
Don’t lose your dedication or commitment
Being an entrepreneur isn’t a 9-to-5 job. It’s a lifestyle, and in many ways, it will essentially take over your life. The business is your baby. You have to show up every day, unconditionally, on the good days and the bad, even while on vacation. This level of commitment and dedication is the only way to find success, scale and market share.
While not everyone may share your level of passion and enthusiasm for your project, you cannot do it alone. We have built a team of professionals that share our vision and goals for the company. Cultivating the right team and culture is vital to achieving benchmark goals and staying on course.
When we first had the idea for our company, the technology we wanted to provide didn’t exist and ecommerce was still a new concept — but we didn’t stop innovating. We continued to follow the space, and evolved the idea alongside new market demand and advancements in technology. That is long-term dedication to an idea.
Great technology is not a one way ticket to being a successful entrepreneur. It takes a truly innovative, market-changing idea. We have seen examples of these innovations everywhere, in virtually every part of our lives — from behemoths like Uber and Airbnb to fintech disruptors like Robinhood and PayPal.
But technology alone won’t transform our world. You must have vision, effective leadership and perseverance to truly make a difference. Building a successful fintech or technology company is hard. Not everyone can do it. But with the right level of passion, dedication and a willingness to evolve and learn from your mistakes, you’ll have a chance to reach your goals.