So, you’re thinking about leaving the 9 to 5 grind and starting your own business.  Good for you.  But before you hand in that letter of resignation and head out on your own, you’d better do some soul searching.

Most Startups Fail

The truth is that most of startup businesses fail—about 90%, in fact, according to Forbes, which offers this important reality check for would-be startup founders:

“Nine out of ten startups will fail. This is a hard and bleak truth, but one that you’d do well to meditate on. Entrepreneurs may even want to write their failure post-mortems before they launch their business.  Why? Because every optimistic entrepreneur needs a dose of reality now and then. Cold statistics like these are not intended to discourage entrepreneurs, but to encourage them to work smarter and harder.”

What’s the Problem?

Why do so many startups barely get out of the starting blocks?  There are many reasons.  For some, it’s a lack of pre-launch planning and research.  For others, it’s running out of cash.  Perhaps it’s a lack of marketing expertise, a product that consumers don’t want, or even something as simple as a poor location.  But there’s one factor which is more important than all the others:  the founder.

So, What Does It Take to Create a Successful Startup?

Every business—and every startup—is different.  They’re in different industries, have different types of employees and market to different audiences.  For this reason, no set of prescriptive rules will apply to all.  There are, however, some general traits which virtually all successful startup founders share.

5 Traits of Successful Startup Founders

  1. A long view:  Successful startups don’t just consider what will happen next week, or even next year.  They recognize that they need to be prepared for changes in the business environment for many years to come.  Businesses that didn’t pay attention to the growing influence of inbound marketing, internet marketing, and social media 15 years ago soon found themselves at a decided competitive disadvantage.  Successful startup founders take a long view of business and market conditions. They also make a commitment to shifting their strategy as those conditions change.
  2. A “never-say-die” attitude:  No one is successful without a few failures.  The difference between winners and losers is that winners learn from their failures, while losers are overwhelmed by them.  Said differently, successful startup founders don’t give up, and they don’t sweat the small stuff.  They understand that taking a few wrong turns is inevitable and are dedicated to overcoming obstacles and eventual success.
  3. An ability to prioritize:  As a startup founder, you’re bound to face myriad challenges, from hiring the best people to distribution problems to figuring out accurate financial forecasting.  The challenge is in knowing which issues are sufficiently important to deserve your full attention.  The best entrepreneurs are those who know how to distinguish between problems that should be outsourced to experts and those which they should handle themselves.
  4. The ability to communicate:  You’ve got some great ideas, but you won’t get very far with them unless you’re able to communicate them to others. You must be able to communicate persuasively to including investors, C-suite executives and middle managers in an engaging and clear way. The best founders know how to persuade those around them that a given strategy will work.
  5. The ability to listen:  The fact is, some of your ideas might be better with honest input from others.  If you’re serious about hiring the best people, then you should be serious about listening to what they have to say.  That doesn’t mean you’ll necessarily take their advice, but it does mean that you’ll weigh that advice fairly.

Concluding Thoughts

Most startups fail, but many succeed.  The ones that make it have founders who stick it out through the tough times, communicate clearly and openly with those around them and make decisions based on the best information available. By cultivating those traits in yourself, you can boost your chances of success.

To learn more about the ways our financial modeling, CFO, bookkeeping, capital raising, and financial reporting services can help your startup succeed, contact us today.

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