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Beginning a startup journey is like shooting an arrow in the dark: You’re not at all certain if it will hit the target — uncertainty is among the foremost challenge entrepreneurs face. You simply don’t know where the market forces may lead, and unfortunately many startups don’t even get the chance to mature or scale. However, you can greatly increase the chances of making yours successful with adequate planning, adopting some relevant practices and avoiding mistakes unsuccessful entrepreneurs have made in the past. Here are some key factors that can help.
1. A clear vision of the business
Without a lucid and transparent vision, enterprises won’t sustain or grow. That’s why it is paramount to have detailed objectives set for your organization. A great early step is to write a vision statement describing its long-term and short-term goals as well as its purpose. This acts as a strategic plan for success, and will be a compass during tough times — will give you clarity regarding every decision from monetizing to scaling.
2. Time and fund management
Working without a schedule can decrease productivity, and if you are not careful you might find yourself back at (or never leaving) square one. So, make a point of differentiating what’s before you each day in terms of the number of tasks and their priority.
In a startup, there’s also a decent chance that money will be limited, and that you’ll need to work efficiently and with fewer resources. You’ll also require funds to keep operations running at every point, of course, so it’s doubly critical to have a budget in place so that progress is not hampered due to lack of planning.
3. Emphasize execution
To me, this word refers to how you lay out the idea of a business in reality, and is the foundational and most critical aspect that will determine its success. Efficient execution, along with an experienced team, will help you stay headed in the right direction.
The proper implementation of plans and strategies can change your position in the market. It’s not always the out-of-the-box idea that scales a business; sometimes even unique ideas don’t translate well in the real world, but great execution can make a difference and help you stand out from the crowd.
4. Keep customers up front
Customers are the defining aspect of any company. If they’re not happy with what you are delivering, the chances of them returning will be slim. Therefore, it’s essential to keep them satisfied with any product or service. To that end, it’s important to conduct surveys to gather information about their needs and expectations and modify your operations accordingly. This might seem like a lot of investment initially, but it will be worth the effort in the long run.
But remember to not go overboard with customers’ demands. When a business starts to scale yet you alter course with every demand, it may lead to under-delivery. It’s better to produce according to your capacity and so balance customer satisfaction accordingly.
Related: 5 Ways to Put Your Customers First
5. Don’t scale too quickly
Scaling means setting the stage to enable and support growth in a company — to foster the ability to expand without being hampered. It’s tempting to start to scale a business early, however, which can often become its downfall. Before attempting to do so, it’s vital to develop traction by identifying a product market and target customer base. If you start selling without any plan or strategy regarding stock, staff, funds, technology, etc., the business might not be profitable.
6. Adapt to changes quickly
To shape your product’s unique selling proposition (USP), you need to be agile — to quickly adapt to changes, including evolving technology. Doing this consistently will also lead to cost savings and enhanced productivity. But recognizing market changes is not enough; implementation also matters. If you cannot respond to the changes effectively, those responses could backfire. To stay ahead in the race and differentiate your product from the rest, keep an eye on the market, competitors and the economy and respond proactively.
7. Learn to accept feedback
Whether positive or negative, feedback indicates what customers expect from you and helps you make the right decisions, including ways of improving.
Customers have a sea of options to choose from. Even if you build a product based upon ample professional expertise, it’s their opinion that matters, and it’s your responsibility to give them a reason to stay. Valuing customer feedback increases satisfaction rates and helps build loyalty.
8. Stay socially active
The advantages of being engaged socially, including building networks in your industry, are many. First, doing so helps attract potential investors. Building a strong network on social media and creating awareness of your brand appeals to them and helps keep them close, which will help you create a long-lasting enterprise.
Promoting your brand online exposes you to a larger audience and gives you a chance to gain their trust. It also brings validation for a business, which will help you gain more customers and generate more revenue.
There will be many hiccups and challenges in your startup journey, and on occasion you’re likely to feel like giving up. Keep in mind, however, that risk is an integral part of the journey towards success. The important thing is dealing with it, along with other hurdles, and moving forward while learning from mistakes and other experiences.