The 10 Things You Learn From The First Year Of Your Startup

by Ashley Fern

What is the future of business in America? In today’s world, start-up companies seem to be revolutionizing the industry.

Entrepreneurship is all the hype right now and it should come as no surprise that Gen-Y has begun to realize how miserable the “path” of life truly is. This type of environment is not for everyone, simply because the results are not guaranteed.

However, for the adventurous, this is the place where creativity can flourish. Startups are designed for fast growth, the foundation on which the company is built.

1. Everyone says they will help, but no one will

Everyone knows actions speak louder than words and this could not hold truer than in a start-up company. With the idea of new prospects, it’s easy for someone to “commit” to something, but when push comes to shove, few people actually back up what they said with their actions. The strength and integrity of people are demonstrated through their behaviors, so pay close attention to these as your startup cultivates.

2. Stop trying to act like a boss and learn how to lead

You are only as strong as your weakest link. The success of a leader will always be reliant upon the success of those they lead. The way your company performs is a reflection of your leadership abilities. If you want to be triumphant, you must have the capability of bringing out the best of the people you lead. As a leader, it is your job to figure out the best way to delegate responsibilities amongst your team. Become aware of each member's personalities and showcase it in a way that benefits the company as a whole.

3. Get ready to give it all up

The days of staying up and partying into the wee hours of the morning are long gone. You need to be completely focused or you run the risk of failure. Distractions are not welcome in the world of the startup. There is too much uncertainty that surrounds this industry, so mental focus is crucial. Your main focus needs to be your company and its goals. Forget the outside world, this is your future, so get ready to give up everything you once knew.

“Unfortunately, there seems to be far more opportunity out there than ability.... We should remember that good fortune often happens when opportunity meets with preparation.”

4. You won’t know how to fight until you get punched in the face

You may think you are prepared for adversity, but until you actually come face to face with it, you will never know how it feels. Be prepared to fail, but never accept it. Accept each challenge with strength and dignity. Hold your head high and do not let the haters get in your way. Experience is perhaps the most important thing in life to be successful. Even if you fail, there are a million reasons to get up and to start again. When you are discouraged and in the midst of trials, remember how important it is to always remain positive. If you believe you can thrive, then you can -- perception is everything.

5. If you’re looking for a steady revenue stream, you’re better off at Starbucks

Startups are erratic and ever-changing. Nothing in this industry is guaranteed and this is where much of the excitement lies. Too many people are driven by their paycheck; we refer to these people as pedestrians. The truly successful people are those who are motivated by success and the development of their brand. While reaping financial benefits is rewarding, it should not at the forefront of an entrepreneur’s mind.

6. Lean and boot strapped is the only way

Acting in a lean manner does not mean you are cheap, it means you know how to use the resources you have available in the most efficient way possible. It is about maximizing your supply and minimizing waste. If there is no return on an investment, there is no reason to waste your valuable time. Bootstrapping means you are proceeding in your business without external assistance.

This is essential because as soon as you bring in investors, your vision can be distorted. If you are accepting funding from outside sources, they may expect to have some sort of input in your development. The film “The Social Network” vividly exemplified this concept in its actuality.

7. If people aren’t willing to work as much as you, they shouldn’t be here

Not everyone is cut out for the life that a start-up company offers. You are only as good as the company you keep, so if those around you are not willing to put in the same effort you are, you need to trim the fat.

You need to surround yourself with people who are constantly looking forward, always trying to improve and who are determined to make something of themselves. A startup is not a place to rest on your laurels, it is a place to show the world what you are made of. If you can’t handle the heat, get out of the kitchen.

8. It’s not about being right all the time, it’s about being consistent in your actions

Many people may not agree with your opinion, but that’s irrelevant. It is more important to find something that works for you and to stick with it. However, it is imperative to make sure your actions do not contradict one another. Your credibility will go down as soon as your actions seem hypocritical.

9. Don’t promise anything but hard work and learning curves

There is no assurance in a startup except that you will be working hard and learning simultaneously. As soon as you think you have things figured out, the universe will throw a curve ball your way. You cannot promise someone a future that is not guaranteed. You will learn invaluable lessons along this journey that will far surpass your expectations. Embrace the ingenuity this career path has to offer. Many are not as fortunate to embark on a journey such as this.

10. Develop a powerful vision

While business plans are rigid and limiting, having a powerful vision is an essential factor in the success of your startup. Obstacles will arrive often, so ensuring you have an end goal is vital. If you plan on running your own company, you need to remove the idea of “making a lot of money” as your end result. Focus on building the best team possible to achieve your common goal.

What do you hope to accomplish with your startup? Who is the audience you are trying to reach? What is the best medium to reach these people through? These are all important questions that must be considered when creating your vision. All great leaders have a vision as this is what motivates them on a daily basis to achieve greatness.