If you are in Austin and you are an entrepreneur you are probably aware of the event that took place earlier this week, Capital Factory’s Demo Day. One of the event speakers was Bob Metcalfe and some of the points that he shared motivated me to write this blog post.
These are the 5 things that a startup needs to do to increase its chances of succeeding according to Bob Metcalfe, these are stay healthy, writing, speaking, sell and having a plan. The description under each one of them is my opinion about it, I hope you find it useful.
1- Stay healthy, sleep
This goes against the common idea that working in a startup means pulling all-nighters all the time, skip meals, skip social life, etc… While it is true that there are times when you need to be heads-down coding, designing, etc… it is also true that is not necessary to do this all the time, it is not healthy and it hurts productivity in the long-term.
To be productive, you really need to take care of yourself and be able to decompress often, it is necessary. When a person doesn’t take enough time to sleep and decompress that person ends up experiencing a burnout and by consequence not getting things done on time or not getting things done at all. This does not mean however that you need to be a slacker to achieve success, it means that there needs to be a balance.
2- Writing, write all the time
This is my favorite point, and I try to follow it as much as I can. Writing is good for many reasons and it is not coincidence that many successful entrepreneurs suggest writing and write a lot themselves, a few come to mind such as the following entrepreneurs which seem to follow the advice of writing: Joel Spolsky, Zuly Gonzalez, Paul Graham, Bill Gates, Jason Cohen, Dharmesh Shah, etc… A person who writes, is a person who will be able to absorb more information over time, every time you write, you are exercising your brain and it really helps you stay healthy as well.
If you don’t have a blog yet create one, start writing about anything you want the topic is not important, what is important is the process you have to go through to start writing and the writing and editing itself.
One of the hardest and more useful things to do in my opinion. This is by far the hardest thing to do for most people, if you are a techie chances are that you don’t like public speaking. You see, speaking in public is not easy for anyone, at least not in the beginning.
First of all, to be able to speak in public you do need to find a topic that you know very well and feel comfortable of talking about. However, you don’t have to be an expert in the topic, just need to know something really well and be able to share it with an audience.
If you have a startup or are planning on starting one, consider attending events where you have a chance to speak in public about you and your startup. For example, if you are in Austin or the Valley, the co-founders meetup group is a great opportunity to meet other like-minded entrepreneurs and a chance to speak in front of an audience about your startup.
At a startup everyone needs to be selling, especially the founders. If you think you cannot sell then it is going to be very difficult for you to even get started. In a startup you start selling your idea as soon as you ask people to sign-up for a demo, when you ask other people to join you, when you ask investors to fund you, and of course… when you ask people to pay you for the service or product you provide to them.
It is not about just having a great product or service out there, selling is by far one of the most important abilities for a startup to achieve success. This does not mean that you have to hire a sales team and play golf with your potential customers. What it means is that you need to have your idea well-defined so you can sell it/pitch it to anyone at any time. Consider attending local networking events in your area, attending these type of events and talking to different people about your startup will help you refine your idea and improve your elevation pitch which is one of the ways you start selling your idea, your service and product to others.
Of course not all selling is in person, consider creating Facebook ads, using a Twitter account and even a Linked In group to expose your service and product to the world.
If you are building a software product, try building the most simple and inexpensive piece of software first, this will be easier to sell to small businesses and individuals, once you achieve this you can go after the bigger fish.
5- Have a plan
Not a business plan in the common format, thought it won’t hurt if you have one just as a reference. Having a plan is about having goals and milestones well defined so you can keep progress of how things are going. Just by writing specific goals and milestones in a piece of paper or in the computer will increase your chances of achieving those goals, try it. When you want something, just make it a goal and take a very close look at all the things that you need to do to get to that goal, write everything down in a list, update the list as necessary and start reaching those goals one step at a time. Everyone has a plan, not everyone has the courage and consistency to follow it and update it as needed.
In the end, remember that to achieve success with your startup the first thing you need to do is to start. Starting a tech startup is not rocket science and there are many resources available these days to help you get started, you don’t have to know a lot about business, you need to build something people will love and charge them for it.