Updated 31 October 18
Although startups derive from great ideas, and painful problems, it is up to the founder to drive that idea to success. Starting a business will not always be a plain sailing, cheerful experience, and there will be several obstacles to overcome. We’ve picked out certain qualities and traits that we feel are needed to succeed in the adversity of founding your own startup company.
It might seem bleak, but you will fail along the way. In fact, you're likely to make mistakes and fail multiple times. That’s fine. The person who makes the least mistakes isn't the one that succeeds, it’s the person who learns the most from their mistakes and strives to improve that will succeed. The motto ‘fail fast and learn quickly’ is essential in the world of startups.
As the founder, you are the face of the company to investors, employees, even external stakeholders such as customers. It is vital that they are confident you will succeed in risky situations, and that is why above all else you should remain calm and positive when difficulties arise.
At Nova, we stress that your target user's problems are the catalyst for your startups growth. We do not address the solution until we have identified the fundamental pain points for your customers. This could mean that the solution for the product or service can change completely from the inception of the idea.
Being flexible and unbiased regarding your solution will ensure that you can work together with your team to develop the most effective, pain relieving, solution for your users. Whilst it is important to persevere in adversity, making informed decisions and keeping a level-head will help you pivot in the best direction.
Being close to the problem isn’t a necessity, but it can give you a great competitive advantage. If you have domain expertise in a field, or you are a sufferer of the same problem as your target audience, you will have experience that cannot be bought. On top of this, it should be easier for you to connect and gain access to users, as you can relate to their situations and know where they congregate.
Value the opinion of your users and customers above anyone else- including yourself! Not only are customers your main revenue stream, but they can be your best research and development tool. Prepare for your users to tell you your solution is wrong, because they’ll likely tell you why. Once you discover this information, you can refine or change your offering to best meet your users needs.
You might be the face of the company, but to be successful you must welcome constructive criticism and adapt. Only then will you create a product your customers really want.
Strong communication is essential, particularly when communicating to investors, customers and users. Investors will sit through hundreds of pitches every year, and customers are exposed to product messages in their thousands. You need to stand out and leave a lasting impression and be able to convince your stakeholders that you are offering them value.
At Nova, we recognise that not everybody who has a great idea is a natural entrepreneur, so we offer a free 6 week startup school, which provides mentorship from our experienced startup mentors. The programme prepares potential founders to pitch to our partner investors, and begin your startup journey!