How do you start a company that is built to last? What has to be considered when starting out? What adjustments need to be made along the way?
In this culled from inc.com, Sharat Sharan, CEO/co-founder of answers these questions:
1. Get comfortable knowing you’ll end up in a different place
Without a doubt, it’s an asset to be excited and passionate about the exact product or service you are developing and the specific company you are building. But far too often, first-time entrepreneurs become so singularly-focused, they cling to the belief that this is how their company will always be and this is what they will always be doing – simply because they love it so much. However, I can tell you from personal experience and from countless examples of successful start-ups, that this is true exactly zero percent of the time.
For further evidence, one needs to look no further than Google, who did extraordinarily well in dominating and creating the category of web search. But within a half dozen years, they began to branch out. In less than five years time, you will undoubtedly have forged a slightly different course, sold your company or gone public, started an entirely new venture or evolved your business into something you could never have imagined. Stay focused, but don’t get too attached to where you are at this very moment.
2. Don’t pivot right off the cliff
In the same vein, treat your information technology (IT) as your essential touchstone. Cling too tightly to it and you lose inertia and go nowhere, but pivot too much away from it and you risk destroying your core value. Strive to find the balance. Imagine if you ran a coal business and you pivoted to producing wind turbines. While both are energy businesses, they share very little in terms of infrastructure, business model and employee skill set, and could cost you dearly.
An example of a sustainable pivot is Kabam – the mobile gaming startup. It began as Watercooler, a social network geared specifically to sports and TV fans. Soon, the company realized it was no match for behemoths Facebook and LinkedIn, so they made two significant pivots, all the while staying true to the company’s base technology. The first took them into social video gaming, which spread like wildfire through Facebook, and the second took them into mobile gaming, which helped propel them toward an eventual $800 million sale late last year.
3. Worry more about your customers revenue than yours
I can almost guarantee that the number one thing your investors and CFO want you to focus on is your revenue. Of course, not overnight, but in the back of everyone’s mind is, at some point, all of your product development and go-to-market efforts will yield revenue. It makes no difference what type of business you are in – software applications or automotive parts or accounting services – your customers are buying your goods and services so they too can be successful.
In order to not only survive, but also thrive a leader of a start-up has to walk a fine line between being flexible and knowing the core focus. They also have to focus on their customers revenue. Happy customers lead to a successful and growing business.
Did you find these tips helpful? Share your thoughts!