As the world of business continues to change and evolve, startups must make the necessary adjustments to be competitive. The days of over-inflated valuations and seemingly endless sources of money, skyrise startup offices, and lines of angel investors seem to be over. The market is adjusting, and investors are adjusting with it—forcing startup entrepreneurs to rethink the way their business works. In place of the glitzy, glamourous portfolios of days gone by, entrepreneurs are returning to a bare-bones mentality. It may seem outdated, but this iteration has proven successful in the past, resulting in entrepreneurial giants such as Steve Jobs and Richard Branson.
In many ways, the ‘new’ focus of entrepreneurs is nothing new—it’s been considered standard business practice for many years. A return to the traditional, old-fashioned ideas may seem outdated, but in the shifting sands of the entrepreneur marketplace, taking a long-term approach to business may be the smartest move you can make, regardless of the type of business you’re in. For entrepreneurs just starting out, a return to the basics, such as the following, can be an asset.
1. Put business first.
At first glance, this may seem like a nod to prioritizing business over every aspect of your life. In reality, it is a warning to entrepreneurs who place a higher priority on making a fortune than on building a viable business. Many entrepreneurs are drawn by the fabled overnight success stories, where money seemed to be limitless and anyone with a good idea could strike it rich.
Psychologists have discovered, however, that a sudden influx of large amounts of money clouds a person’s ability to think clearly. (See past lottery winners as an example.) Instead of putting your focus on how quickly you can make money, focus on establishing a functional business. The money may follow, but without a solid business plan, it is unlikely to succeed. When the foundation of the business is secure, the sky is the limit.
2. Choose wisely.
It may seem better, or even easier, to find a partner on your path to becoming an entrepreneur. Sometimes, however, it can make things worse. Choosing a business partner is more than finding someone you can get along with, and it requires more basis than friendship. Your potential business partner should have a skill set that works well with yours, and has a personality that is compatible with yours. To keep things in perspective, while 50 percent of marriages end in divorce, nearly 80 percent of business partnerships fail. Carefully consider who you are going into business with before forming a partnership.
3. Focus on finishing well.
In recent years, the focus has been on building a company that can be sold for maximum profit as quickly as possible. As a result, entrepreneurs have crafted artificial timelines, cut corners, and focused solely on immediate returns, neglecting to position the company for long-term, sustainable growth. Now that the market has shifted, entrepreneurs are seeing the value in creating companies that are durable and have long-term viability. When a business owner focuses on long-term growth, they may pass up what seems to be a ‘good offer’ in lieu of creating a great company.
4. Enjoy the ride.
Many entrepreneurs have achieved celebrity status. Naturally, there are those who would love to follow in the footsteps of such iconic figures as Elon Musk, Bill Gates, or Steve Jobs. It is important to remember, however, that these men did not set out to be famous—they set out to create a successful company. Their fame grew as their business grew. Some of today’s entrepreneurs have made fame their goal, and they create companies to help them achieve their dream. Analyze your motives in becoming an entrepreneur. If the journey of entrepreneurship isn’t appealing to you, chances are good that fame won’t find you. Instead of focusing on becoming a celebrity, focus on becoming a successful entrepreneur.
5. Learn from your mistakes.
No matter how prepared you are, you’re going to make mistakes. Embrace your mistakes and learn from them. Position yourself to recover quickly and move forward, using your mistake as a stepping stone to improvement. Avoid the temptation to brush your mistakes under the rug and pretend they never happened. Own your missteps and use them as a catalyst to new achievements.
6. Build a team.
Entrepreneurs tend to want control. It’s understandable. After all, you built the company from the ground up. However, it is impossible for you to do everything on your own. An important avenue of growth in a successful business is understanding your limitations and giving others the tools they need to be a success. By creating a team of people that you can collaborate with, you are maximizing the abilities you have while generating traction for the growth of your company.