Most businesses don’t survive, so what do you do to keep yours growing?
“The only way to win is to learn faster than anyone else.” Eric Ries. Hopefully, you’re reading this post because you’ve on a path to create an exciting and profitable startup.
The first major hurdle is launching; then, getting your first customer; and then, proving the
concept and generating a wage for yourself in a scalable way.
What happens after all that?
Now it’s time to run your business, and your decisions from here out will make or break it in the long term.
Here are some business rules or philosophies that will help you as a business owner.
Test Every Assumption
You are better off launching quickly and paying attention to real data rather than making assumptions.
This doesn’t just apply to launching; it’s a general business principle that you can apply for almost every decision.
Most of the assumptions you have prior to and after launching your business will be wrong.
In the 2000s, people assumed mass market electric sports cars were impossible. 10 years later, Tesla brought out the mass-produced electric Model S and won car of the year.
Your assumptions don’t have to be as dramatic. The business world is changing rapidly, small things don’t get tested.
If you have an open mind, you can easily test your assumptions and those assumptions made by others in your industry.
Similar to the examples above, there may be assumptions in your industry that have prevented people from doing certain things.
There’s a very good chance they haven’t been tested recently. One small discovery might be enough to kick-start a whole new business or product.
Solve Problems As They Arise
A lot of business owners spend time solving problems they don’t have. Rob Walling refers to this as premature optimization. Examples include:
- Optimizing their website before they have traffic
- Hiring staff before they have work for them.
- Investing in the best systems before they have enough work to warrant it.
These days, you can solve most business problems quickly. There’s no reason to spend any time on problems you don’t have.
Doing so will only cost you valuable time and money. It will take attention away from the work you should
There’s a good chance that if you are a new business, you only have one problem: not enough customers. That’s where you should be spending your time.
Do What You Say You Will Do
Being true to your word is a very important part of building trust in business.
Whether you are offering services or selling a product, make sure you always deliver on what you promise.
You can do everything else right, but if you are the guy or girl that promises the world and doesn’t deliver, your mistake will be uncovered in the end.
Your reputation is everything, and it will impact every business you start, not just this one.
It’s far better to under-promise and over-deliver, or at the very least deliver exactly what you promise every time.
Learn From Others And Yourself
Don’t debate every last issue internally until you are blue in the face.
Whatever you are discussing can probably be solved by either looking at what other companies have done before you, or implementing a quick decision and learning from the real data.
The minutiae that you are debating could be distracting you from a fundamental problem that you aren’t seeing.
Out Learn Your Competition
Eric Ries says this best:
“Startups exist not just to make stuff, make money, or even serve customers.
They exist to learn how to build a sustainable business.
This learning can be
validated scientifically by running frequent experiments that allow
entrepreneurs to test each element of their vision.”
The companies that learn the quickest, win.
This is partly because they do no not make decisions based on assumptions and partly because they learn from their predecessors.
While your competitors are debating which assumption is better than the other, you can build a competitive advantage by gathering real information from your customers.
Your own personal happiness and motivation are the most important keys to the success of your business.
I know plenty of people who have created great businesses, taken them to a point, and then lost all motivation.
If you are struggling with motivation, join a forum, start a mastermind, find a cofounder, hire people to do the hard work, and get back to what you’re good at.
Take the warning signs seriously.
You should be more excited about Monday than you are about Friday. If that’s not the case, there’s a good chance things aren’t going to work out.
Cull Difficult Customers
Difficult customers will waste your time, kill your confidence, and destroy your motivation (and soul).
No amount of money is worth working with a difficult customer.
Every difficult customer can be replaced by a better one, generally much quicker than you think. The work required to replace them is a far better use of your time than any work spent trying to help them.
My team prides themselves in sniffing out potentially difficult customers prior to sign-up and scaring them off. I also cheer when the team lets a bad customer go, or they leave on their own accord.
I want to work with good people, and my team values time and group sanity.
Normally it’s simply people being unreasonable. Customers with high expectations are great because they can push your business forward, but some people are unreasonable, and you are better off without them.
And lastly, love your work If you don’t, the rest will fall apart. It’s that simple.