The beginning of any business or startup is always fraught with challenges and false starts.
Even seasoned entrepreneurs have tried to get a business up and running, only to find out they’re short on networking, time, or resources.
But if you’re experiencing difficulty bringing your idea to fruition, you’re already well on your way to becoming a success. I know. I started my first business venture in 2004 when I was only 20. I didn’t have much in the way of personal possessions; I couldn’t even afford the apartment I was living in.
But I did have something else: the urge and will to build something. Something great.
Today I – among other ventures – run a successful investment firm, Dotcom Capital, alongside Mads Emil Fast Dahlerup. We want to help and support young and talented entrepreneurs to realize their dreams.
But how do you know, if you have what it takes? Read on and learn my 8 best tips for new entrepreneurs.
8 Tips for Running a Successful Startup
1. Execution and Drive Are Key
Do you work hard? Now, I’m not talking about high grades. Are you dedicated to your business?
Whenever I’m reviewing a new startup, I always start out by looking at the startups’ founder/founders.
You need to have drive, passion, and take charge. I need to know that if I invest in your project, you’re going to do what it takes to succeed.
2. Prioritize Your Business’ Health – Above Your Own Wealth
The vast majority of entrepreneurs are not millionaires. For good reason. You’re the last person getting paid on your entire team.
The funding for any good and healthy startup should go to making your business grow, nurturing your assets, and retaining the best employees for the job.
3. Accept Your Time is Limited
Can you – for a time – accept that you’ll have a lot less time to spend with your friends, familie and partner?
Startups take time. That means your personal time becomes increasingly limited. Especially in the first year, when you’re trying to get on your feet and grow your business. That also means you need to communicate clearly with the people you care about that you’re not blowing them off, because you don’t want to spend time with them.
This isn’t necessarily a bad thing. It can even have a couple of benefits:
- The most important people in your life stick around
- You get a new perspective on who – and what – is important to your life
- You’ll get to know a lot of new people by growing your business’ network
4. Surround Yourself with Competent People
While a lot of startup culture emphasizes large personalities and single entrepreneurs, a founder is nothing without their team. You need people who know and understand things you don’t. Programmers, copywriters, graphic designers, salespersons.
Your time is limited. So is your expertise. If you want your business to grow, you need to prioritize doing the work you’re best at – and letting others do what they do best. When your business starts to grow, and you’re required to leave more up to other people on your team, you want to know that each and every assignment is in safe hands.
5. Spend Your Own Money to Entice Investors
If you’re not willing to put your own money on the line, why should I? Or any other investor, you’re courting?
It’s important to invest in your own business. And once your business starts generating profits, you’re going to see returns. It’s not money spent, it’s money invested.
6. International Potential is Crucial (if you’re not in the US)
If your business is not in the US, or if you don’t have a plan to go international, your startup is less likely to attract interest from investors.
That’s a sad truth, but it’s nevertheless the case for most angel investors and investment firms. A local business is a fantastic way to make a living, but if you’re looking for investors you need to be thinking about five-year-plans, expansions, and global reach.
Your home country is a playground, your home base, but if you’re going to run a serious business, you need to be prepared to play away as well.
7. Even Leaders Require Structure
To be truly successful, you need to be structured. A lot of founders and entrepreneurs are filled to the brim with enthusiasm, but structure makes that energy and your ideas come true.
So firstly, you need to be able to create structure in your own day-to-day life. Then, you need to lead, set goals, and check in with your employees. When your team delivers, you need to do the same.
8. Know Your Startups Value
Your idea doesn’t need to be perfect. It doesn’t even need to be refined from the offset. But it does need to have a clear value proposition. It needs to create some tangible benefit for your customers – that creates value for you and your investors.
You also need to dare to make mistakes. If you’re not making mistakes, you’re most likely not making much of anything at all.