START-UP SECRETS : 15 TIPS THAT WILL HELP CUT OUT THE CRAP

28 May 2016

Below are the 15 success factors which have been the most critical during my entrepreneurial journey thus far:


1. Stick Stick Stick 

Being passionate about your idea or business and sticking with it is key to finding success.

More businesses fail than succeed because entrepreneurs lose their passion, get lazy or can’t handle the knocks involved in getting a start-up off the ground.

This is why it is so important to brainstorm business ideas that don’t just put a dollar sign in your mind. 

Dollar signs are good, but if you are not passionate about the idea you will eventually get burned out and will most likely become a statistic in the failed business column in another textbook.


2. Solve an important problem

Take a look around at the products and services you are currently using and surrounded by. 

Why are they there? 

Well, it’s because they are solving a problem, pain or filling a need you would otherwise be experiencing.

This is how all great inventions and start-up businesses are born – from a problem or need.


A great example: Spanx


PROBLEM: 

Panty hose traditionally covered the entire foot, including toes, which is not ideal for some shoe types. If the hose is cut, it rolls up the leg.

SOLUTION:

Sara Blakely developed and introduced footless pantyhose with her company, Spanx (I love her story!)

Ask yourself what problem does your start-up or idea solve, and how painful is that problem?” Think critically about this question.


3. Be the best

Seth Godin’s words from his book The Dip appropriately highlight the importance of being a leader in your market “Being better than 98% of the competition used to be fine. In the world of Google, though, it’s useless. It’s useless because all your competition is just a click away, whatever it is you do. The only position you can count on now is best in the world.”


4. Invest in the right people

Business is all about managing people.  

The people you decide to bring on board can either make or break your company. 

Trust me I’ve been there!

It’s not pretty when partnerships go sour (I will elaborate on this in a separate blog post about my personal experience.)

Do your homework.  Screen potential employees/partners.  Get a character reference from a reliable source and DO NOT give away equity so easily.


5. Move Fast

The market changes rapidly. 

Don’t delay until you are 100% ready, or risk loss of sales/revenue/users in the process.

Get out there and then adjust to the inevitable and make changes where necessary. 

Be agile and go to market fast for feedback purposes.


6. Take Risks

I recently finished reading the book Originals: How Nonconformists Move the World by Adam M. Grant. (A MUST READ FOR ALL YOU NON CONFORMING INNOVATIVE RULE BREAKERS ;) 

Grant highlights this point so well when he states: “To become original, you have to try something new, which means accepting some measure of risk.”

If I had not taken any risks as an entrepreneur, I would not have gotten to where I am today -even though I still have tons more to learn and a shitload to do to get where I want to be.

You need to be gutsy, ballsy and never accept NO for an answer!


7. Failure is part of success 

One of the greatest challenges of entrepreneurship is understanding that you need to fail many times before you have your light bulb moment and become a success.

I can totally vouch for this!

Every single time a plan or idea has not worked out it has lead me to bigger and better opportunities and made me stronger.

Failure is a blessing in disguise.

Failure forces you to dig deeper, work harder and think smarter.

Never give up. Ever.


8. Take your emotions out of it

Sometimes you are working so hard that you become too emotionally attached to your business concept.

When making business decisions always make sure you take your personal feelings out of the equation.

Always get an objective opinion from a friend or family member - who you TRUST! 

3 years ago I was working on a start-up which I was very passionate about. I believed in the idea so much and put all my blood sweat and tears into it. I pushed like crazy. Worked my butt off but ultimately the concept was not taking off the way I intended it to. 

I had to put on my big girl panties, put my tail between my legs and acknowledge that it was time to move on.

Always trust your gut!  

You need to know when to press the pause button and re-evaluate where you are at.  

Don’t waste more time on getting your start-up off the ground if you are feeling that something is not quite right. 

As tough as it is to make this decision, it is a sign of strength not failure!  

To be a success you need to try many different ideas before the right one works.

Deciding to move on was the best decision I made.

This opened the door to one of the most unique, exciting opportunities which I will share with you all soon :) 


9. Get a good attorney and accountant.

Focus on what you do best.

Leave the rest up to the experts.


10. Remain Lazer focused

Keep your business strategy clear and focused. 

A scalable business model is much more likely to succeed and is attractive to potential investors.

Basically it means that your business has the potential to multiply revenue with minimal incremental cost.

Do not allow other social media platforms and profiles distract you from your goals.  

I understand how easy it is to look at other competitors in the same market space, compare yourself and start to feel deflated. 


DO NOT let this happen!


***REMEMBER*** that all these social media platforms are just fake personas that people try to portray online. 


THIS IS NOT REAL LIFE. 


It is just a fabricated filter of what people want you to see.  

It is not real, authentic or transparent.  

Do not get caught in the social media hype or you will lose yourself.  

You will waste so much precious time getting stressed out by what others are doing that you will lose focus on achieving YOUR goals.

Instead of trying to portray an image of perfection I focus on trying to be as real and transparent as possible.

I want to be able to relate to people and connect with my audience on an authentic level.

I don’t want anyone to think I have this ‘picture perfect’ life because this is not true!  

It is not about the number of “likes” and “followers”

WHO CARES!

Every single day is a new challenge and adventure. 

Nothing and No one’s life is perfect.  

Perfection doesn’t exist.


11. Exceed Expectations

You only get one chance to prove yourself.  

You only have one reputation.

There is so much competition in the market in all industries.

There is absolutely NO excuse for average or mediocre service and performance.

In today's saturated market you need to over deliver to gain the loyalty of your customers and be bolder than your competition.

Every single contact point of your business from answering the phone to your email signatures need to enhance your customer’s experience.


12. Make Your Mission CLEAR

Simplify what exactly your business is, what it does and what its core values are. 

You should be able to nail the outline of your business in a 60- to 90-second synopsis. 

Remember: Clear, Concise and to the point.


13. Do More With Less 

When you have limited resources you need to be as creative as possible to make sure you use them as effectively as possible.

Take what you have and turn it into gold.

I used to think you needed a lot of money to really get a leg up in the beginning phases of your start-up.

BUT 

This is not the case! (I promise I’m not just saying this to make myself or anyone else out there who has or is going through this phase feel better about yourselves – it’s the TRUTH!)

This exercise will make you understand the value of money. How to spend it wisely, how to work smart and save.

It is a blessing in disguise! 

You will thank me eventually;)  


14. Do your homework

Be very clear about the business landscape you are diving into.

Do a thorough competitive analysis of others playing in the same space as you.

Make sure you are better and offer a more unique value proposition than they do which cannot be replicated.

Discuss your concept with mentors and close people to you and get as much feedback as possible.

Build a prototype and test it.

Very important to note: DO NOT GO AND BLABBER YOUR MOUTH TO EVERY TOM, DICK AND HARRY. 

You need to keep your business concept (IP) extremely close to your chest.

Be strategic with who you discuss your ideas with because let’s be honest an NDA means nothing and will not protect you!


15. Get excited

If you wake up in the morning and you aren’t excited about going to work, something is wrong with your business. 

The last 8 years have been an amazing experience.

Despite the challenges, the drama, the tough decisions, the crappy days, the great days and all the learning curves I can truly say I LOVE WHAT I DO!

Every single day is a new adventure and I can’t wait to see what the next 8 years bring.


All you entrepreneurs inspire and rock! 


Believe in yourself. Invest In yourself. YOU cannot be cloned.


I would love to hear your feedback and start-up tips! 

To join the #DS.comTribe you can follow me on Twitter @danzshapiro, Connect with me on LinkedIn and like my Facebook page 'Daniella Shapiro' for more biz, marketing, social media and startup inspo.

Digitally Yours

DS xxx