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Lessons for Startups

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These are lessons from start-up experiences that began with a group of people and then grew quickly. If you own a small business by yourself and bootstrap with your own funds, some of these lessons may not apply to you.


[edit] Draw people you know and trust.

In the chaotic early days you need to know that your partners have your back. It helps to start with proven relationships that have weathered and survived storms. You want to already know how your partners will look when things get ugly.

[edit] Who is minding the cash?

Find a trusted penny pincher to keep tight financial controls on expenses--before the budget gets bloated. Your ideal controller doesn't care about being liked or loved. They will protect the funds like their very own.

[edit] Failure is a very powerful teacher.

Fail often and early, and soon you will be soaring. The toughest lessons viscerally settle in your bones never to be forgotten. No academic learning can match the raw power of wisdom learned in the fire.

[edit] Utilizing outside perspectives and trusted advisors.

This is a sticky wicket. You need outside perspectives, however your advisors need to really get who you are and what you are about. In the early phase, advisory boards rather than corporate boards can be more helpful and don't have the same legal liability.

[edit] Outliers and those who think differently.

Hanging out with people just like you feels good, but in a start-up, you need decision makers, thinkers, problem solvers, idea folks, and relaters. You want a balance of personalities and qualities. Group-think will kill you.

[edit] Business will outgrow the entry team.

At some point your business will grow beyond the starting players. Phase two folks need to be specialists in each critical department. This transition time can be painful because of the emotional ties that bond people in the early birth of the company.

[edit] You need a red tape champion.

Get someone on your team who thrives on crossing the t's and dotting the i's, filing the reports, and reading up on the laws and legal procedures. Don't take it on if it isn't your cup of tea, or you'll end up gagging on it.

[edit] Don't do what you can delegate.

I you are an owner or CEO and beyond the very early stage, don't do what you can delegate. Do what you do best and delegate the rest. You need to be leading, strategizing, and empowering others.

[edit] If you are micromanaging, question yourself.

Micromanaging is managing, not building a company. You have just bought yourself a job. Look at your own fears that are getting in the way. It is time to learn about letting go. You need qualified people and they need to soar.

[edit] It helps to admit your mistakes.

You will screw up many times so get used to acknowledging your errors. There is much to learn and many faux pas to be made. Eating humble pie will ease you through a lot of tough situations and endear your colleagues to you.

[edit] Related Best Practices

[edit] Resources

[edit] Author

The author of this page is Maureen Daniek

Maureen Daniek

Maureen is owner of Radiance Coaching and Consulting in Bellevue, Washington. She has over thirty years experience as a business owner, cofounder of a start-up, corporate executive, coach, consultant and psychotherapist. She currently coaches solopreneurs who are starting or growing a business. She is the author of Six Word Lessons for Successful Start-ups: 100 Lessons to Guide your Company to Success.

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