Tuesday, April 29, 2014

Start-up Tips from Successful Entrepreneurs

With a start-up, your company's beginning is 0.
I've never been a "start-up" entrepreneur before now. I'd always bought properties or companies and scaled them. However, I am now operating a start-up, The Resourceful CEOTM, and find the journey quite interesting. Here are a few featured tips for you (and I) from renowned entrepreneurs to help on this start-up journey. 

Sara Blakely

First up, Sara Blakely of Spanx:

Her 5 tips:
  1. Differentiate yourself (and your company, products). Why are you different? 
  2. Visualize where you're headed. "Take a polaroid picture of where you're going to be in a few years."
  3. Trust your gut, even after you can afford advisors.
  4. Treat people kindly and be fair.
  5. "...Embrace what you don't know, especially in the beginning."
Tim Ferriss

From a different perspective, following is an interview with Tim Ferriss, author of "The 4-Hour" Series of which "The 4-Hour Work Week" is the most well-known. (I read it and really enjoyed it. However, I did not lay on the sidewalk to get comfortable with feeling uncomfortable. I took a 1-week trip to Colombia all by myself - no tour - instead. But I digress.)

According to Tim, the following are important:
  1. Burning enthusiasm/passion for what you are building.
  2. A diversified identity. This means do not tie all your self-worth into the success of your business.
  3. Know your particular strengths and delegate the rest. (This may have to wait until you have more money, but as soon as you have it, do it.)
  4. Team members need to have the same vision AND end goal, especially team members with an equity stake in the company.
  5. Focus on being effective not efficient. Prioritize, prioritize.
  6. Track 1-2 numbers weekly, whether it's cash flow to conversion. This helps retain focus.
  7. Be careful not to be reactive to email. Use email as a tool, not a distraction.
  8. To be most effective, use the DSSS tool
  • Deconstruction - breaking big goals into smaller tasks
  • Selection - choosing the 20% that drives 80% of the goals
  • Sequencing - practicing/doing activities in the right order
  • Stakes - consequences that impact you to motivate you to take consistent action

Pay attention! You may be tested on these tips later!

Now for my tips:

I have been called strong-willed and highly opinionated, generally only when solicited for feedback! Not the same as stubborn. However, these are often key traits for an entrepreneur. So many of the people who know us like to weigh in on what we're doing or how we're doing it. Long ago I decided the following: 

  1. If the advice-giver has a successful track record in the area they are giving advice in, I will listen with high receptivity.
  2. If the advice-giver has a poor track record or no track record in the area they are giving advice, I will no longer fight them as this makes them dig in. I will just nod and essentially ignore everything they say. Remember, resistance begets resistance. Go with the flow but do not let that person's ignorance and fear become yours!
  3. If the person has no track record in the advice area but generally has a good track record in other areas, I will listen to all they have to say. 
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