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12 Things I Learned in 12 Months of Working on My Startup



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A few weeks ago I launched my startup. It took exactly 12 months from the initial idea until the moment I saw my app in the App Store. And these were some of the most challenging, fun and exciting 12 months of my whole life.

Before we dive deeper, a quick disclaimer. My startup it’s not a “standard” startup – I bootstrapped, I formed an LLC and not a corporation, and I don’t plan to sell it in a few years.

I have 15 years of experience working in a global technology and consulting company. So the good news is that I was familiar with the engineering side of things. The bad news, though, is that I had no idea about any other aspect of starting a business. So I had to learn it all (and I still am!)

Below I have tried to summarize some of the most important lessons that I wish someone had told me a year ago. Enjoy!

1 – Good ideas need space

I once was listening to an entrepreneurship podcast, and the podcast host said, “95% of my ideas came to me in the sauna.” And I thought to myself, “That is 100% true!” In December of 2020 I felt that I was ready to start my own business. The only problem was – I didn’t know what business I wanted to start.

I spent several weeks thinking about it and trying to come up with a good idea. Nothing was helping. And then I was laying on the tattoo table getting my tattoo done, staring at the ceiling and doing nothing, and this idea, this perfect idea, just popped into my head – and I’m not even kidding.

So next time you are trying to come up with an idea, or make an important decision – go get a tattoo. Joking! But seriously, slowing down and giving your thoughts room to breathe helps. Trust me.

2 – Choosing a brand name is harder than you think 

Alright, now you have this awesome idea, let’s pick a name for your future company! Well, for me it definitely appeared to be harder than I thought.

It’s not just finding the name that is catchy, matches your brand and your vision and is not used anywhere yet (which is already pretty hard!). Have you also thought about the domain name? And how about social media accounts? Oh, and by the way, don’t forget the trademark!

I tried to come up with a name for my startup myself and failed, so I hired a professional to do that for me. And it was 100% worth it.

3 – You need a team from the start

It’s so tempting to do everything by yourself, especially if your budget is tight and/or if you are an expert in your area. Because of my technology background, many people asked me (and still do) if I am going to develop the app by myself. 

But I knew from the very beginning that my time is much better spent being a visionary rather than an executor. So I found an agency for the design work, and then another one for development. And again, 100% worth it. 

4 – Hold on to your vision 

When you start, you have a strong vision in your mind. You know exactly what you want to achieve and why it’s important.

Then you begin to take small steps toward transforming your vision into the real product. Every step by itself seems to make sense. However, a few months into the process you might find yourself looking at the half baked product that looks nothing like your initial vision.

The danger here is that every step might in fact be a tiny deviation from your vision, but it’s so small you don’t notice it. However, these steps add up, and at some point deviation becomes noticeable.

In order to avoid this, or at least minimize the impact, make sure you step out from the tactics regularly and take a holistic look at what you are creating. And adjust if necessary.

5 – Pick your partners not just for the talent, but also for maturity

I found this design agency and fell in love with their work, so I hired them. And they really had very professional designers in house. The only problem was that all those designers left the agency within 3 months because the agency founder was treating them (and me, honestly) poorly. 

Thankfully, we managed to finish the design, but it’s definitely a lesson learned for me. 

6 – Your budget will increase

Whatever you plan for, add at least 25% for contingency. Whatever estimates you receive from your vendors, add 50% (or even 100%!) 

It’s probably not what you want to hear, but it’s better to be prepared and to have this buffer ready for when it’s needed (and it will be needed, trust me), than try to urgently find more money while in the middle of the process.

“The value of an idea lies in the using of it.” – Thomas Edison

7 – Talk to your future users 

Every interview matters. You don’t have to throw enormous budgets into the user research (absolutely do it if you have it though!), but you at least need to talk to some of those people who will potentially become your customers. 

Does your product solve their problem? Do they even have a problem? It’s amazing how many insights you can get by talking to even just a few people.

8 – Cut your MVP. Then cut again 

You have pictured this awesome product in your mind. But you go to your vendor, and they tell you that it will take hundreds of thousands of dollars and years of work to get your product out the door. Alright, it’s time to start cutting the scope for MVP (minimal viable product). 

It’s not easy, and at first it will seem like every piece is essential. But if you dig deeper, you will find that core that absolutely has to stay there, and then you can cut everything else.

Oh, and by the way, be prepared to go through this process several times.

9 – Pivoting is your best friend

More “good” news for you here. It’s not just about cutting your scope, but also about changing it to reflect the actual people’s needs and the reality we live in. Or sometimes you might simply overlook something!

Remember – having to make changes is not a sign that your product is a failure. In fact, it’s the opposite – it gives your product a much higher chance of success, and it makes you a much smarter founder.

10 – Set your priority wisely 

As a startup founder, you will constantly need to be wearing multiple hats. Finance and data privacy laws, product development and testing, marketing and PR, user acquisition and user retention – just to name a few of the things that will keep you up at night.

But remember – your capacity is not unlimited, so focus on one priority at a time. Feel free to switch between them weekly, but don’t try to multitask.

11 – Launch when you are ready, not when you have to

You will have the launch date in mind, and most likely this date will keep slipping. You will feel pressured to launch when you originally planned to launch. But don’t. Take as much time to finalize and test your product as needed. 

Remember – you can only make the first impression once! 

12 – Launch is just the beginning 

If you think that, once you launch, the hardest part is done, think again. You can be creating as many hypophyses as you want, but it’s only when you start receiving real data and real feedback from your costumes, that you can finally prove (or disprove) your theories. 

I cannot stress this enough – data is your best friend when it comes to making your startup successful. Spend the time and set up all the analytics tools you need in order to fully understand what’s going on with your business at any point in time. Funnels, conversion rates, retention, not to mention financials, – it might feel overwhelming (and trust me, it is at times!), but it is essential that you have it all figured out and ready to go, otherwise you will be blind. You should even consider choosing a colocation data center for your startup. This facility provides servers, storage and security for your computing hardware. 

And it’s really hard to navigate the fun and challenging startup world being blind.

Olena Mytruk is a multi-passionate entrepreneur and the founder and CEO of Breverie, a female focused digital self development platform. Technologist by profession and creator by heart, Olena has been on her personal life-long self development journey that influenced all aspects of her life, including family, business, health and fitness. She strongly believes that every girl and woman on our planet has their own dreams, big or small, and that those dreams are worth pursuing. And in 2021 she founded Breverie with a sole mission to empower all females around the world to create their definition of happiness and to find the courage to follow their dreams. Connect with Olena on Instagram, or check out Breverie self development mobile app.

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How to Manage Your Startup’s Finances More Efficiently

No matter how groundbreaking your product or service, your startup could quickly be on shaky ground without proper financial management



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Running a triumphant startup requires juggling numerous responsibilities. From managing operations and coordinating with team members to developing innovative marketing strategies and nurturing relationships with clients, the to-do list seems endless. (more…)

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5 Strategic Power Moves to Successfully Build Your Empire

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The journey from a fledgling idea to a thriving empire is both exhilarating and daunting. The Startup Launchpad is not just a process but also a strategic framework that enables visionary entrepreneurs to become market leaders. This framework comprises five power moves, each a critical steppingstone in building a successful business.

These moves—Ideation, Business Plan, Online Presence, Strategic Marketing, and Launch and Growth—are the blueprint for turning aspirations into achievements. (more…)

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How to Avoid Startup Clichés and Buzzwords When Pitching Investors

Using jargon can make you sound like you’re trying to fill space instead of providing meaningful data



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Entrepreneurs frequently seek startup funding through a variety of channels. Yet, none seem as challenging as successfully pitching to experienced investors. After all, investors are pressed for time and eager for opportunities. These characteristics make it challenging to motivate them, especially if you’re bombarding them with a pitch full of jargon. (more…)

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From Idea to Empire: 5 Power Moves for Your Startup to Thrive in Today’s Market

As an entrepreneur, I’ve learned that understanding market dynamics and choosing the right business model are crucial



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As an entrepreneur, I’ve learned that understanding market dynamics and choosing the right business model are crucial.

A few months into the startup, I was quick to gauge why it is necessary to go beyond the nuances of operational efficiency and the art of sustaining a business amid growing competition.

Collaboration is key.

The HR and the recruiting teams work with departments to foster a culture of collaboration, but what’s indispensable to business performance is the sync between the marketing and sales teams. What we’d consider as entrepreneurs is the need to ensure seamless collaboration to predict and achieve business goals together. In turn, this will help secure long-term recurring revenue for the business.

Besides, entrepreneurs need to focus on revenue as they gear up to take their startup from $0 to $1 million. The journey is filled with critical decisions, from identifying your target customer base to choosing the right funding strategy.

So, what next?

Read on… because here are five practical, results-driven strategies that you as a founder can implement to make a mark in their industry.

#1. Embrace the Lean Methodology

What is lean methodology?

It is all about pivoting resources to create more value for customers with fewer resources. 

This principle encourages you to be more agile and allow rapid iteration based on customer feedback rather than spending years perfecting a product before it hits the market.

Want to implement it?

Here’s what you can do.

Build “Measure-Learn” Loop: What I did was develop a minimum viable product (MVP), a simple version of the product. You can do the same since it allows you to start the learning process as quickly as possible. After launching MVP, measure how customers use it and learn from their behaviors and feedback.

Here’s what I can recommend here:

  • Identify the core features that solve your customers’ primary needs and focus solely on those to develop your MVP.
  • Know the feedback channels where early users can communicate their experiences, suggestions, and complaints.
  • Analyze user behavior and feedback to make informed product development and iteration decisions.

#2. Focus on Customer Development

Let’s talk about taking our startup to the next level. 

It’s not just about getting customers – it’s about really getting to know them. We need to dive into their world, understand their struggles, and see how our product or service can make a difference in their lives. 

It’s like we’re detectives, piecing together the puzzle of our business hypothesis by actually chatting with our customers

What would you ideally do here?

Understand Customer Segments: I’d say, start dividing your target market into segments and develop a deep understanding of each segment’s demographics, behaviors, needs, and pain points. The idea is to get into their shoes and really feel what they feel.

Ensure your Product Clicks: When starting up, think of what you offer and consider whether it clicks with what our customers need. My thought was “Does my product solve their problems? Does it make their day better?” Put yourself through a tough grilling session to show customers the value proposition and ensure that the product’s promise matches what our customers are looking for.

I’d recommend the following actions here:

  • Talk to them – through surveys, interviews, or even casual chats. The goal? To gather real, raw insights about what they need and expect.
  • Use the collected data to create detailed profiles for each type of customer. This way, everyone on our team really understood we were serving. I think this should help your startup as well.
  • Try out different versions of our product with a few customer groups. It’s all about feedback here – understanding if you’re hitting the mark or if we need to pivot.

#3. Foster a Data-Driven Culture

The digital world is highly data driven since it fuels key decisions in a startup. 

I believe it’s essential for us to build a data-driven culture. This means, you’ll move from making decisions based on hunches or assumptions. Instead, the focus should be on data analytics and insights to guide our strategies and improve our outcomes.

What can you do?

Use Data Analytics Tools: You should be using these tools to gather, analyze, and interpret data related to customer behavior, market trends, and our business operations. Here, consider the adoption of pipeline forecasting that leverages AI to find patterns in marketing data. 

In turn, you’ll get areas for improvement since it can analyze historical data and predict the outcome for you to plan your.

Action Items:

  • Pinpoint key performance indicators (KPIs) that align with your business objectives and ensure they are measurable and actionable.
  • Next, you can consider training your team to understand and use data analytics tools. This might involve workshops or bringing in experts to build a data-savvy workforce.
  • Once everything is in place, regularly review data reports and dashboards. This gives us a clear picture of a startup’s health and helps adjust your strategies and predict future trends.

#4. Strengthen Your Financial Acumen

A good grip on financial skills is important to steer your business towards growth and making sure it stays on track. For this, you’ll have to understand the money side of things, which helps you manage your cash flow. Think of figuring out smart investment moves and sizing up any risks that come your way.

Here’s a tip on how you can get savvy with your finances.

Maintain Rigorous Financial Discipline: I’m really focused on cultivating a strong company culture, one that truly resonates with our mission. So, I’d suggest fostering open communication and encouraging a sense of ownership and collaboration among everyone in the team.

Action Items:

  • Get to know your financial statements inside out – I’m talking about the income statement, balance sheet, and cash flow statement. These are like the vital signs for your business’s financial health
  • Use financial forecasting that helps predict your future money moves. With this, you will have a heads-up on upcoming revenues, expenses, and how much cash you’ll need. Also, research on the available financial forecasting tools that can make predictions spot-on.
  • Don’t go at it alone. Regularly touch base with financial advisors or mentors. With them by your side, you’ll have a fresh perspective on your financial strategies to ensure you’re on the right path to hit your business goals.

5. Prioritize Team Building and Leadership Development

It is crucial to focus on building a solid team and developing strong leaders. This means putting our resources into the people who are going to propel our company forward. 

What you’ll aim for here?

Creating a culture where everyone collaborates and every team member has the chance to emerge as a leader.

What I would do:

Cultivate a Strong Company Culture: This culture should mirror our mission and foster open communication. It’s important that it encourages everyone to feel a sense of ownership and work together.

Invest in Leadership and Team Development: As founders, we’ll have to make way for opportunities for teams to enhance their skills, face new challenges, and grow in their careers.

Some concrete steps that you should consider taking:

  • Begin with clearly communicating your startup’s vision, mission, and values so that every team member is on the same page.
  • Conduct regular team-building activities and workshops to boost skills and strengthen a sense of unity and collaboration.
  • How about starting a mentorship program within our organization? The more experienced team members could guide and support the growth of newer or less experienced folks.
  • Alas… encourage feedback at all levels. We should keep striving to create an environment where open, honest communication is the norm and everyone feels safe to speak up.

I know it’s one thing to get your head around these ideas and quite another to actually make them a part of your everyday business life. But that’s where the real magic happens, right? It’s all in the doing. 

As a startup founder, this means more than just being a big dreamer. How about rolling up your sleeves to be the planner who pays attention to the smallest details. Ultimately, these tips and more tactics around it will help carve a leader in you who listens and cares and the learner who’s always ready to adapt

So, as you’re either starting out or moving forward on this entrepreneurial adventure, keep these practical tips right there.

May these be your guiding lights, helping you steer through the wild and exciting world of building a startup that’s not just a dream, but a thriving reality.

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