Perhaps you often wonder which specific elements make a startup more likely to succeed than fail in an increasingly competitive marketplace. Indeed, figuring out those essential characteristics is crucial for today’s entrepreneurs.
You’ve probably heard widely cited statistics that remind people of how the vast majority of startups fail. However, that doesn’t mean yours will too. Here are five things that all startups should have for the best chance of thriving.
1. A Plan for Executing the Company’s Vision
Many entrepreneurs take the time required to develop a company’s vision — which encompasses their future hopes for the venture. That’s a great start, but it’s vital to go further and nail down the specific things you’ll do to get the enterprise to that point.
One excellent way to do that is by setting SMART goals which are:
Consider an example where you own a bath products company and want to offer more cruelty-free items. Even though you’ve researched some opportunities, they’re not yet part of your merchandise lineup.
In that case, you might set a goal to bring the first cruelty-free product to market within a year. If you already have external partners willing to help and have clear ideas of what to develop, that could be an attainable and realistic goal. It’s also specific, measurable and time-bound, making it fit all the SMART criteria.
It’s also easier to execute your company’s vision when you devote adequate time to strategy development. For example, besides choosing a strategy and sticking to it, you also need to get all stakeholders on board. Bear in mind, too, that your strategy should evolve with your business. Even when you believe it works as intended, it’s still wise to periodically revisit it to confirm that.
2. Leadership with the Willingness to Delegate
Many entrepreneurs initially find task delegation extremely challenging. They often believe they know what’s right for the business, and to let other parties bear some responsibility could be the company’s downfall.
Research indicated that women delegate less often than men and have fewer pleasant interactions with subordinates when they do. However, the investigation also showed that deciding against delegation leaves females with reduced time for big-picture tasks and mentoring opportunities.
It’s certainly understandable if giving tasks to others doesn’t automatically appeal to you. However, trying to focus on its benefits. For example, giving people the responsibilities that don’t align with your strengths opens more opportunities for you to apply your expertise where it matters most. More delegation could also help you stay more focused on single tasks instead of trying to do several at once. If so, your overall work quality could rise.
Delegation could also play a key role in your overall wellness. Running a business brings plenty of demands, and they’re probably on top of your family life and other interests. Even though it’s natural to want to go all-in with your company to help it do well, striking a healthy balance between work and other activities could help you avoid getting burned out and feeling frustrated.
3. Workforce Flexibility
The COVID-19 pandemic quickly illustrated how advantageous it was when companies could speedily pivot to have all or most employees work from home. It also highlighted why a flexible workforce helps a startup succeed.
For example, if you have the infrastructure to help everyone stay productive at home, you could minimize or even reduce physical real estate expenses. Many potential customers and clients will also like the idea of a remote workforce because it increases resilience during inclement weather or other events that could make it challenging to reach a company’s headquarters.
Helping your workforce get stuff done from wherever they are means assessing how to make their home environments suitable. That may mean adding more lighting. A foot-candle is a related measurement equalling one lumen per square foot. Most offices have at least 50 foot-candles worth of light, while the average bedroom has only 30.
Other necessities include assessing internet network reliability, checking that workers have enough outlets to use and verifying that there is supportive furniture to use. Having the ability to work from bed or a couch might seem attractive at first, but neither is a practical long-term option for keeping the body in the proper alignment.
4. Access to Necessary Resources
Business success at every stage largely depends on whether you can acquire the required resources, which could include:
- Technical expertise
- Relevant data
- Advice from trustworthy parties
- A larger team
- Real estate
- Supply chain partnerships
Of course, it’s not realistic for any company to have all the resources it needs at a given time. The idea approach is to confirm which resource deficits hold the company back the most, then explore effective ways to resolve those issues.
Perhaps inadequate funding is the main thing holding you back from launching a new product. In that case, consider exploring whether your area has any grants for local startups or similar funding sources that could apply to your situation.
If you need more equipment but can’t afford to buy it at full price, consider used items or rental programs. Many companies that offer them let customers rent for extended periods until they eventually own the equipment. That could be an appealing option for letting you spread the cost.
If your social circle doesn’t include other entrepreneurs, aim to change that by attending more virtual or in-person gatherings for people who own or run businesses. Besides giving you access to people who can advise on what worked for them, being in the company of others facing similar circumstances should help you feel empowered.
5. Extensive Knowledge of the Target Market
Most entrepreneurs feel nearly certain that whatever they offer fills a need in the market. Do they reach that conclusion via anecdotal evidence and limited external research? Those that do could encounter preventable challenges with their businesses later.
The people involved with successful startups know the importance of confirming a genuine need in the marketplace rather than assuming there is and continuing apace.
Collecting primary and secondary data is an excellent way to do that. Primary data comes directly from the first source — such as your potential customers — and secondary data accounts for all other materials, such as census reports, industry research and trade journals.
If you’re fortunate enough to talk to some people and get primary data, present your questions to get the most valuable data. For example, saying, “If I started an ethical chocolate company, would you buy from it?” may elicit only an affirmative or negative response, which isn’t particularly useful.
Instead, try to get into detailed conversations about how people feel about the treatment of workers and the environment within the cocoa industry, whether they want things to change and whether they ever thought about responsibly made sweets as items they wanted or needed.
You can’t know with certainty how well a product will sell before it reaches the market. However, doing thorough market research is one of the best ways to get a good idea of the potential outcomes.
Set Yourself Up for Startup Success
Having these five things for your startup will put you in an excellent position for helping it do well. They aren’t the only things you’ll need but will give you a firm foundation that promotes further growth and keeps people interested.
About the Author
Eleanor Hecks is editor-in-chief at Designerly Magazine. Eleanor was the creative director and occasional blog writer at a prominent digital marketing agency before becoming her own boss in 2018. She lives in Philadelphia with her husband and dog, Bear.