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Dear First-Time Founder, Here Are 5 Tips For Startup Success

Navigating the ins and outs of a startup to the ultimate goal - a successful business - can be a daunting affair. Yet with the right wisdom and learning points from your predecessors, you can anticipate certain challenges before they happen and circumvent or resolve others.

You have the fundamental founder qualities – a growth mindset, a clear vision and a laser focus, but this guide will show you where to supercharge your development as a person and a business leader.

Here’s a quick summary of what we’ll cover in this article:

  • Don’t hesitate to ask for help
  • Be honest and transparent in your communications
  • Know your numbers
  • Be mindful of imposter syndrome
  • Never stop hiring

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1. Don’t hesitate to ask for help

In his book “All You Have To Do Is Ask”, Dr Wayne Baker, a network science pioneer and the Co-Founder of knowledge-sharing platform Give & Take Inc. shares how people underestimate the ability and willingness others have to help someone who’s reaching out for just that – help. 

Forget about reluctance and the fear of rejection. Instead, focus on identifying the root of your problem and approaching the right person with the means (skills, experience and knowledge) to help you iron out the matter.

It’s impossible to be good at every aspect of your role. But you’ll scale better (and faster) by getting help from others and, at the same time, create a support system that helps you unleash your full potential as a startup founder.

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2. Be honest and transparent in your communications

“The keys to brand success are self-definition, transparency, authenticity and accountability.”  Simon Mainwaring, Branding Expert, CEO & Founder of We First

Transparency is a vital quality all founders should have. By being transparent, you’re providing the clarity your clients, employees and adversaries need to understand your milestones, goals and vision. 

These are individuals who care for you and your company. Be honest about your OKRs (Objectives and Key Results), for instance, on a monthly basis. This allows every team member to understand how their work contributes to the company. And it opens up valuable discussion points that aid in identifying gaps and challenging areas and sorting them out.

Consistency in your stakeholder communication is equally essential. For one, being honest and upfront about new developments and current plans provides an avenue for your employees to voice their feedback. This strategy drives employee engagement and the positive results you’re seeking in your business.

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3. Know your numbers

Businesses run on dollars, cents and P&Ls. To be a successful entrepreneur, you need to have a sound understanding of your business economics, from product costs to gross profit percentages and break even points.

Your numbers also help you identify key drivers that push up your costs, helping you address them and ultimately optimising your profit levels.

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4. Be mindful of imposter syndrome

If left unchecked, imposter syndrome deters you from unlocking your startup’s success, despite the milestones you’ve accomplished along the way. It sows thoughts of uncertainty about your capabilities and talent, leading to self-doubt.

In a recent Business Times interview for International Women’s Day, GGV’s Associate Partner Lily Cao shared that a mentality of continuous learning and self-acceptance helped her overcome imposter syndrome. She added, “I strive to focus on my personal growth to ensure that I am the best version of myself at all times.”

The Personality Traits of Entrepreneurs also states that “entrepreneurs thrive on a strong sense of personal self-efficacy to execute their visions”. One surefire way to teach a mindset of success is with a support system of like-minded professionals striving (or already achievers) for wins.

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5. Never stop hiring

Today’s hiring process is a two-way street. Employers seek candidates that are the right fit, and candidates want more than a good paycheck; they seek holistic career growth and work-life balance. And finding the right person for the job can take time, hindering your team’s development.

Your hiring process should therefore run continuously. Build a proactive talent pipeline. By having a network of top candidates (with whom you or your managers stay connected), you’d fill vacancies faster than the traditional route of reactive hiring.

As a first-time founder, you’re bringing a fresh perspective to business with you. Work that to your advantage, and simultaneously be open to discovering new ways to adapt your business daily.

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Achieve success with your startup

Taking the leap to start your own business is no doubt a daunting affair, but there are steps you can take to reduce the stress you face along the way. We hope that our guide helps you better manage the pressure and achieve your startup goals!

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