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3 Important Lessons I Learned From Working in a Digital Startup

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digital startup

It’s been just over 2 years.  I must admit it definitely feels longer than that. So much has happened within that timeframe, in an environment where a day feels like a month. I mean, what could possibly make someone want to leave a safe, stable job building teams and solutions within the Enterprise to start from scratch?  Glad you asked.

The glory certainly exists in start-up land and the feeling of contribution is immense when things are going well. The highs are superb. But with the highs come the ‘waking up at 3am in a cold sweat’, the ‘constant obsession to make things better’ and the ‘all rational thought would indicate this should work well, but analytics is clearly telling a different story’ moments, which can test even the strongest of characters.

As CTO of an automotive start-up, Autoguru, I thought I’d share some key learnings at which the experienced amongst us can have a laugh and say “I’ve been there before!” And to those (less?) fortunate newcomers to the startup world, hopefully you’ll learn a little something from these words of wisdom.

Here are 3 things I learned from working in a Digital Startup:

Lesson 1: Don’t build what’s already been built

Need a way to track customers effectively and ensure the right offers are sent to them at the right time? Don’t build it.  There are countless CRM (Customer Relationship Management) systems out there you can integrate with.

Does your solution need to scale massively, have millisecond response times and be fault tolerant down to a micro-service level with monitoring to the nth degree?  Again, there are a myriad of options available in AWS, Azure and Google Cloud that will provide these features without your development teams ever having to break into a sweat.

Do you have an existing product that’s inflexible and refuses to play nicely with other systems?  Ok, so this is where you should consider other options, and if there’s no ‘off the shelf’ product available it’s time to consider an API platform or custom build.  

This was precisely the scenario with our call centre application at AutoGuru, and by replacing it with the Twilio platform we were able to tightly integrate all our communication touch points into back end systems and create a framework where we control the roadmap for improved customer interaction.

The key point is we’ve never been in such a fortunate position where AI, Chatbots, advanced analytics, CRM, CMS, (the list goes on), are all available and at our fingertips for a fraction of the cost compared to just a few years ago.

Development teams should be intent on building your product.  That thing that differentiates you from your competitors. Your secret sauce. Your delighter. That’s where your focus should be.

You can save a lot of time and effort in finding the right products, so if you want to check out what other successful tech companies are using, check out StackShare.

“Don’t reinvent the wheel, just realign it.” – Anthony J. D’Angelo

Lesson 2: You don’t have 6 months, see what you can build in 2

Your product is new, unproven and there are a thousand ideas floating around to improve it and make it better, faster, more user friendly. When it comes to larger ideas that perhaps take your company in a new direction or into a completely new marketplace or partnership, it can be easy to sink a lot of resources and time into these kinds of initiatives.

Time is something you don’t have.  And if you do, you’re amongst a tiny percentage of very lucky startups! Smart people possess an uncanny ability to look into the future and foresee every variation and edge case for what may or may not happen when a feature or product is built.

The difficult part is rationalising the probability of these various outcomes eventuating, so you’re essentially not wasting energy (in many cases) on improbable events.

If you give a product team 6 months to build a product they will take 6 months as they fill time with small probability edge cases – the ‘what if’s’ for want of a better term.  

Taking the same product and seeing what can be built in 2 months will focus everyone’s energy on the core of what’s being built and how it can best serve a customer. The edge cases will most likely come, but at least you’ll already have a product in market!

Lesson 3: Shortcuts will come back to bite you…eventually

It may seem contradictory to Lesson 2, but there are some shortcuts you will most certainly come to regret in the long run.  Here are a few standouts I think it’s only right to mention:

  • Failing to have effective analytics
    Analytics is sometimes the poor cousin of a feature but if you can’t measure you can’t learn.
  • Automation is key
    Code deployments?  – Automate
    Server environments? – Automate
    Unit/Integration test? –  Automate
    Ok, you get the picture.  It may take longer initially but you’ll save time in the future by making these investments.
  • Failing to Prioritise
    All team members are super busy and working hard.  Congratulations!  However, by not investing the time in continual, harsh, cold blooded prioritisation using methods such as MoSCoW or ICE it could all be in vain.  A handy comparison of prioritisation methods is available here.

Fortunately, I learnt some of these lessons prior to working at AutoGuru, however, in a startup environment it’s wise to keep referring back to base principles, as every day counts.

What are your experiences in Digital Startups? Please leave your thoughts below!

Image courtesy of Twenty20.com

Barry Pryce is a technology leader with experience in enabling Digital Transformation across several industry sectors including banking, telecommunications and media. A specialist in Agile, cloud computing and customer centric application delivery, Barry is currently focused on bringing best of breed digital experiences to the Automotive industry, as CTO at AutoGuru. In previous roles, Barry has helped with the digital transformation of RACQ and achieved Australian digital media firsts including MasterChef and Formula 1 Live Streaming. Barry loves surfing (ex Interceltic games – Scottish Surf Squad), fishing, and obsessing over his veggie patch. But that’s another story.

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4 Comments

4 Comments

  1. Max Kelly

    Sep 18, 2017 at 8:42 am

    Really nice information! Keep up the good work

  2. cartoon hd

    Jul 21, 2017 at 11:15 am

    Its really nice

  3. narutoget

    Jul 3, 2017 at 10:47 am

    Thank you barry, Really appreciate for your amazing article. Keep going on, good stuff. Thank you for this valuable information.

  4. Tutu Helper

    May 8, 2017 at 8:59 am

    This was very inspirational Barry. I really needed this today.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Startups

4 Simple Ways to Transform Your Startup Into a Success

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Who said for a startup to become a success it must struggle for years? If planned and executed smartly, any startup can sail on the ship of success without any hurdles.

There are many myths associated with startups like ‘It has to be small because it is a startup,’ or ‘You just need an idea and the rest will follow,’ or even, ‘Investing in marketing or advertising for a startup is a waste”. Just because a startup is something new for you, doesn’t mean it’s new for people too.

There are thousands of others with your same idea already out there in the market. Hence, for your startup to climb the ladder of success as soon as you roll the dice, you better get the right figures i.e you better do what you need to do in the right manner and proportion. Confused? Let us make it more clear to you.

One of the most often quoted statistics is that 50% of all startups fail to survive even five years. And the reasons for their downfalls are so silly that later they repent only if they had taken care of it at the beginning itself, the startup could have survived. A post-mortem of 287 Startups was carried out by CBInsights among which, the common reasons of startup failure that emerged out were:

  • Lack of focus, motivation, commitment and passion
  • The eagerness of scaling too fast
  • Floating with pride and spending a lot
  • Ignoring good pieces of advice and falling into the wrong company
  • Lack of general and domain-specific business knowledge: finance, operations, and marketing and experience
  • Investing blunders and running out of cash
  • Improper budgeting
  • No getting market exposure
  • Poor product/service
  • No business plan/strategy
  • No/Poor marketing
  • Focusing only on profit and not on customers

For a startup to succeed, money and ideas are not enough, it needs a lot of input from your side as well to grow and survive, like your passion, commitment, willingness to adjust, patience and persistence, observation, relationship with all and basic knowledge and skill. But above all, professionalism is the most important factor. Starting small and new is nothing to be taken lightly. How you interact with your investors, clients or customers, matters, after all, they are the one who will make or break your startup.

Here are the 4 simple ways that will reflect your professionalism as well as turn your startup into a success:

1. Two heads are better than one

Go get a co-founder. Studies show that a startup with two founders significantly increases the odds of success. How? Because two balanced and fully invested partners can keep the startup going on their shoulders equally well. A co-founder means you will have someone to rely on, share the load, chip in during critical times, handle responsibilities, motivate each other and so on. In the end, so what you will have to share the fruit of success, at least your startup will have a balanced support which will prevent it from drowning in the future.

Take for example the Mistay Founder Pranav Prabhakar who believes that, “Multiple founders with complementary skills bring in wider perspective to the team. While taking key decisions and at high-pressure situations, it’s always preferable to have someone who can provide support and an alternative perspective,” and hence has Sandeep Jaiswal as the co-founder of Mistay.

According to Sandeep, ‘A co-founder makes it easy to navigate through tough times. A partner with complimenting skill-sets and different style of thinking is important to help avoid mistakes one would otherwise make, he stressed. So having a co-founder is like an extra support for your startup.

“The value of an idea lies in the using of it.” – Thomas Edison, General Electric Co-founder

2. Get a website/app or both

If you are thinking an investment into web/app is a big waste of money, then hello, it’s 2018 and today from kids to oldies, everyone is constantly browsing either on a desktop/laptop or on mobile. Your potential customers, clients and investors are out there on all platforms and to make them learn about your startup, you must have a website or app of yours ready.

If you are still worried about the budget, for starters, host your site on WordPress which is the most popular CMS of the planet. Its versatility and possibilities are endless which you can take benefit of or go for professional pre-made website templates that easily available at affordable prices.

3. Let people know

Branding and marketing both are lifelines for a business and just because you are a startup doesn’t mean you can survive without them. Branding means establishing a professional presence in both online and offline medium. Make your company logo, colour and other identities visible everywhere as much as possible. Give your clients pens, diaries or other stationary items with your company logo, this will remind them of your great service.

Also, spend rightly on marketing even if you are running a single campaign, make it an effective one that creates an impact on the people. Don’t forget to check whether the market is right for your product/service. Marketing at the right time only will prove beneficial. For eg., marketing your summer clothes brand during winter is useless.

4. Deliver what you promised

Sticking with your word creates your professional image and even a slight slip in it will bring down your startup empire. Nothing is more irritating than a business failing to deliver what it promised. Don’t brag about anything it will only lose your potential customers, stain your reputation and in a worse scenario, get you in legal troubles. First, deliver what you told them you can gradually add and inform them if you wish to serve more. Until and unless, as a startup, don’t try to go overboard and create a mess of everything.

“Always deliver more than expected.” – Larry Page, Google Co-Founder

Turning an idea from concept to production is no cakewalk. The eagerness to establish into a giant is understandable, but, why take unnecessary big risks and crash in the end? Better study the market first, define what new you are giving, plan at its best, execute smartly and enjoy the rewards.

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Startups

Don’t Let The New Person Have Lunch By Themselves.

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I joined a new company two weeks ago. I’ve been the new person at work many times before — I know what it feels like. A new workplace is scary, overwhelming and challenging.

What I’m about to share with you makes me incredibly emotional and it’s very close to my heart.

During the week I saw someone else, who was also new, having lunch by themselves.

They walked through the big grey door by themselves, took one look over at all the tables, and then headed towards a table in the corner away from everybody. My heart sunk.

I knew what he was going through and it wasn’t easy. Right as he walked through the door, I was in the middle of a conversation.

Mid-sentence, I said:
“Excuse me for just a second. I’ll be right back.”

People sitting on my table looked at me funny. They knew I was odd and did weird stuff. They were trying to figure out what I was about to do in their own minds.

I’ve always been told that leadership is not about being the boss but setting the right example

I walked over to the other side of the lunchroom. I said:

“Would you like to come over and have lunch with us?”

I wanted him to feel part of the team. The first couple of weeks in any career are make or break — I should know given my recent exit from finance after seven years.


I know what it’s like to be the new person.

I was the new person in insurance.
Then I was the new person in business banking.
Then I was the new person in eCommerce.

Each time I was the new person I felt scared, incredibly fearful, overwhelmed, anxious and self-conscious. Not much has changed really. I still feel like that which is why I’m obsessed with being part of the solution.

The solution is this:

“Don’t let the new person have lunch by themselves.”

Taking the time to make people feel included and like they matter makes a difference. You could be the difference between a new person staying and having an epic time at work, or giving up in the first few months.


The difference is even bigger than you think.

What do I mean? If being the new person doesn’t go well, it can lead to many issues that you may not have realized. The new person could become lonely; the new person could underachieve and be fired; the new person could struggle to make friends.

These issues could lead to a failed career or not being able to pay bills or even mental illness.

As a worst case scenario, these issues could even lead to suicide. The difference of helping that one person to have lunch with the team could be far greater than you realize.


Inclusion is how we cure loneliness.

Loneliness is why we have social media, dating apps and cafes.

No one wants to be that person having lunch by themselves because they feel like they’re not enough or can’t fit in.

The cure to loneliness is inclusion”

You can be the difference by encouraging inclusion.

Be the leader and set the example of inclusion.

Embrace differences in culture, gender, sexual orientation and race.

Stopping someone from having lunch by themselves will teach you far more about life that you might think. Bottom line is this: we’re all the answer. Be inclusive.


One sentence can change everything.

That one sentence “Hey would you like to join us for lunch?” means more than you think. You were the new person once. I was the new person too.

That one sentence can change someone’s perspective.

It’s not about lunch buddies; it’s about leading with heart and being a good human being.

It’s what you must do. Next time you see someone having lunch by themselves, invite them over. If they are too shy to come over, sit down with them and have lunch together.

It’s the simple hacks like this that will change your reality.

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Startups

6 Important Strategies That Will Help You Grow a Successful Startup

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Congratulations – you’re here because you have a bright idea. The kind that prompts you to, pause in amazement to ask yourself why nobody ever thought of this before, tidy your desk, and start searching for advice on how to turn your brainwave into a profitable business. But where should you really begin?

Building a business is one of the greatest journeys you can embark upon. You can’t expect success overnight. Behind the meteoric rise of each ‘Uber for this’ and ‘Airbnb for that’, there are rivers of sweat, oceans of tears and months of lost sleep.

The foundation of a viable business is to identify a problem and provide a good solution – or a better one than your would-be customers can currently find. You should begin by thinking through your business plan and doing your market research. Be prepared to make changes to the product and to redefine your target market in response to your findings.

Your next step is to get the infrastructure of success in place. Become an expert by studying up on specialist sector information. Get get a professional-looking website, clean up your social media, contribute to relevant discussions online and in person: you should be seen as an authority.

Select the platforms you’ll use to market your product – does it need a video demonstration, or are you the author and sage behind the next hit eBook? Then, get to grips with Google. You’ll need to produce regular, relevant content for your site to rank highly, and understand how paid ads work in order to run campaigns or instruct an agency.

Think this summary sounds simple enough? You already know the roadmap to business stardom will be peppered with potholes. Here are six tips to prepare:

1. Get to work

Success is directly proportional to the effort you put in. You’ll be competing for funding and customers with many other companies. Most will have more capital and manpower than your business might see for another decade. If you want to get on level footing, the only way is to grind. Use size to your advantage.

There’s no middle-management or bureaucracy to prevent you from experimenting with new tactics or tailoring services to a particular client’s requirements. Bonus tip? Don’t quit your day job right away. It’s incredible how much time you can free up on evenings and weekends by reducing your Netflix consumption.

“A business has to be involving, it has to be fun, and it has to exercise your creative instincts.” – Richard Branson

2. Network, network, network

Mingling, schmoozing, hobnobbing – it doesn’t come naturally to everyone. Maybe it seems pointless, or pushes you out of your comfort zone at first, but networking is an extremely  valuable use of your time. Polish your LinkedIn presence, go to business networking events, reach out to people you could learn from. Join discussion forums and contribute to them.

You could even consider applying to startup incubator programs such as TechStars, which offer a curated programme of introductions to both mentors and investors. You can’t predict when one of these contacts will offer a helping hand, but relationship building is key to securing support in your hour of need.

3. Tighten the purse strings

Startups don’t secure their founders a steady stream of income. There will be weeks when you’re flush, and months when your dreams of entrepreneurial success are eclipsed by dreams of a dinner that isn’t ramen. Without the privilege of a reliable income, life is easier to navigate when you’re equipped with budgeting smarts and a steely will. Get used to living within your means. Your salary cut will ultimately translate into a runway extension for your startup.

4. The customer is (still) king

Your brilliance and expertise can’t fund your startup by themselves! Customers put food on your table and sustain the viability of your business. Listen to what they want from you. Be prepared to tailor your offering to their needs. If you get an opportunity to deliver results for someone – seize it. You can offer them a perk no big business can match: flexibility.

5. Shortcuts leave you short-changed

If a job is worth doing, it’s worth doing right first time. Don’t give investors a chance to pick holes in your business proposition by spending time and money on work that needs to be re-done. Website bugs or a ‘content farm’ blog can damage the functionality of your business as well as your reputation.

Sure, you’ll get to the stage where your business is ready for a re-brand or an experienced hire brings in the knowledge to optimise your content, but there’s a difference between being keen to improve versus tolerating shoddy work. Get the best you can buy at every stage of growth.

“Don’t start a company unless it’s an obsession and something you love. If you have an exit strategy, it’s not an obsession.” – Mark Cuban

6. Know your ‘why’

When the going gets tough, the tough get going. But how can you cultivate this toughness? In the early stages, you may not have a co-founder or employee to share the struggle. There will be no team to carry you through phases of crippling doubt. Whether you need to adjust the feng shui of your home office, admit that breaks are crucial to your wellbeing or build opportunities to socialise with likeminded individuals into your schedule, take time to work out the foundations of your mental fortitude.

Understand your ‘why’ – the reason behind your passion that gives you a true sense of purpose. Then, work to cultivate a balance. You can’t do everything, but you can make time for family, exercise, and the little things that save your sanity. The ability to self-motivate will serve you in every area of life, whether business is your vocation or not.

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Startups

No One Would Hire Me — Nothing Lasts Forever, Though.

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In 2011, I was down and out. I was defeated and felt like I’d never amount to anything.

This story is going to inspire you if you’ve ever faced a similar situation or felt defeated.

I’d finished working at the startup I founded with my brother and things didn’t look good. I had a dream at that time to utilize my digital marketing skills and work for an advertising agency where I could grow my skills.

Every job I applied for I was turned down.

Even though I’d had digital marketing experience and built a multi-million dollar business using that talent, it wasn’t formal learning or advertising agency experience.

So, I ended up taking a job in finance which I also knew nothing about. I took a junior role and a large pay cut and started my career at a bank. For seven years, on the side, I worked on my passion for social media and online marketing.

Two days ago, I was hired to run the digital marketing team for a well-known tech company with 900 staff. Against all the odds, I won the long game.

Here’s what you can learn:


No one can stop you.

Even with all the no’s and people that laughed at me in 2011, I didn’t stop.

I went into hiding for a while and built my skills. I started with blogging, then SEO, then pay per click and eventually landed in social media.

Just because someone won’t hire you today based on your skills, attitude and experience, doesn’t mean they won’t tomorrow.

In fact, without sounding cocky, people now have been bending over backwards to hire me as a consultant to help them with social media and digital marketing.

“The same people that said no to me now want to work with me”

You decide whether you stop based on rejection — nobody else. Keep going no matter the odds.


Be prepared to wait a few years.

Patience was what made the last two days feel incredible. It took seven years to get what I wanted and I had to be damn patient.

The mistake many of you make who are reading this is that you’re not prepared to wait years to get what you want.

When you accept that it takes years to achieve your goals, you work differently. You prepare yourself in a totally different way.

Wanting things too quickly forces you to sacrifice for the short-term and mess up the long-term. Slow down. Relax. You’ve got time.


It’s your attitude that counts.

When no one will hire you, it’s your attitude that counts.

If you walk into an interview or coffee catchup with an attitude problem, then your career dream is going to continue to be a problem.

You see it on those TV talent shows when a guy/girl walks out onto the stage and has been trying for a long time to make it as a musician. They have this sense of entitlement and their bad attitude is written all over their face.

Don’t be one of these people. Fix your attitude.

You’re only entitled to what you earn. Walk into interviews and face opportunities with a sense of humbleness.

Let humbleness be your dominant attitude and eventually you’ll have more opportunities than you could ever hope for.


Nothing lasts forever.

The no’s I got in 2011 lasted a few years.

The point is they didn’t last forever.
Just because you’re getting no’s today and being laughed at, doesn’t mean that will last forever. Nothing lasts forever including you.

“Keep going until the people that said no to you come around and are half-way towards a yes”

No one can deny you forever. People will admire you if you keep going and learn along the way.

Sometimes we can feel like we’ll always be rejected. That’s how I felt in 2011. I thought to myself “I’ve worked five years in digital marketing and built up a pretty successful business and people are still saying no to me. If not now, when?”

Now let me be honest for a second. I didn’t have the intelligence in 2011 to keep going. I was too dumb and too obsessed with myself. It was basically blind faith that kept me going. I wish I’d known back then that nothing lasts forever and believed it.

There were no mentors, advisors or as much self-help advice as there is now to tell me that the way I was thinking was madness.

You have the opportunity to learn from this lesson. Nothing. Lasts. Forever.


Push through.

When every obstacle there is, is standing in your way, sometimes all you need to do is keep pushing.

The way I did this was to keep writing. No one was paying attention to my advice, but that didn’t matter.

The only strategy I had at the time was to keep doing what felt fun to me and I believed I’d figure out the detail later or just never get paid to do what I liked doing.

Pushing through is about continuing to do the work even when the results don’t show.


Eventually, the odds will change if you change.

So what was missing in 2011? Why was I getting rejected even though I had the skills and experience?

I needed to change.

I was an arrogant, selfish, entitled son of a bitch who wouldn’t give a dime out of a dollar to anyone. I had to change myself.

I had to:

  1. Develop empowering beliefs
  2. Change my attitude
  3. Adopt a never say die mindset
  4. Learn abundance
  5. Give more to strangers
  6. Create value for people first via the internet
  7. Be grateful for what I have instead of always wanting more

Your odds of success won’t change until you change.

“You’re the problem and that’s the hardest advice to swallow”


Final thought.

It’s been a big few days. I’ve waited seven years to get what I want. The hardest thing about getting what you want is that it will feel good for a few weeks, and then you’ll want more.

That’s the crack addiction that comes with personal development.

I’m trying to detox from this addiction and be happy with what I’ve achieved to date.

Maybe no one will hire you today.

Maybe your life sucks right now.

Maybe you’ve dealt with a lot this year.

It’s all okay. Your odds of success will change when you change.

<<<>>>

If you want to increase your productivity and learn some more valuable life hacks, then join my private mailing list on timdenning.net

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Entrepreneurs

5 Tips for Young People Starting a Business or Side-Hustle

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starting a business at a young age
Image Credit: Unsplash

The decision to start a business or any sort of “side-hustle” takes a lot of nerve, especially when you’re only in your 20s. Yet, the ability to power on and keep going – through all the ups and downs of business is a feat to be truly admired. (more…)

With the desire to go "digital nomad" and help businesses with their social media, Chelsea Tobin founded her boutique social media agency, Queen of Swords Media, in 2018. She attended Auckland University of Technology in New Zealand, where she graduated with a Bachelor of Business (Marketing major) and a Bachelor of Communication Studies (PR major). She enjoys speaking and writing about her journey so far in the world of business, self-development and mindfulness as a young millennial woman navigating her way through life, and of course social media. You can follow her on Instagram here.

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4 Comments

4 Comments

  1. Max Kelly

    Sep 18, 2017 at 8:42 am

    Really nice information! Keep up the good work

  2. cartoon hd

    Jul 21, 2017 at 11:15 am

    Its really nice

  3. narutoget

    Jul 3, 2017 at 10:47 am

    Thank you barry, Really appreciate for your amazing article. Keep going on, good stuff. Thank you for this valuable information.

  4. Tutu Helper

    May 8, 2017 at 8:59 am

    This was very inspirational Barry. I really needed this today.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Startups

4 Simple Ways to Transform Your Startup Into a Success

Published

on

startup success
Image Credit: Unsplash

Who said for a startup to become a success it must struggle for years? If planned and executed smartly, any startup can sail on the ship of success without any hurdles.

There are many myths associated with startups like ‘It has to be small because it is a startup,’ or ‘You just need an idea and the rest will follow,’ or even, ‘Investing in marketing or advertising for a startup is a waste”. Just because a startup is something new for you, doesn’t mean it’s new for people too.

There are thousands of others with your same idea already out there in the market. Hence, for your startup to climb the ladder of success as soon as you roll the dice, you better get the right figures i.e you better do what you need to do in the right manner and proportion. Confused? Let us make it more clear to you.

One of the most often quoted statistics is that 50% of all startups fail to survive even five years. And the reasons for their downfalls are so silly that later they repent only if they had taken care of it at the beginning itself, the startup could have survived. A post-mortem of 287 Startups was carried out by CBInsights among which, the common reasons of startup failure that emerged out were:

  • Lack of focus, motivation, commitment and passion
  • The eagerness of scaling too fast
  • Floating with pride and spending a lot
  • Ignoring good pieces of advice and falling into the wrong company
  • Lack of general and domain-specific business knowledge: finance, operations, and marketing and experience
  • Investing blunders and running out of cash
  • Improper budgeting
  • No getting market exposure
  • Poor product/service
  • No business plan/strategy
  • No/Poor marketing
  • Focusing only on profit and not on customers

For a startup to succeed, money and ideas are not enough, it needs a lot of input from your side as well to grow and survive, like your passion, commitment, willingness to adjust, patience and persistence, observation, relationship with all and basic knowledge and skill. But above all, professionalism is the most important factor. Starting small and new is nothing to be taken lightly. How you interact with your investors, clients or customers, matters, after all, they are the one who will make or break your startup.

Here are the 4 simple ways that will reflect your professionalism as well as turn your startup into a success:

1. Two heads are better than one

Go get a co-founder. Studies show that a startup with two founders significantly increases the odds of success. How? Because two balanced and fully invested partners can keep the startup going on their shoulders equally well. A co-founder means you will have someone to rely on, share the load, chip in during critical times, handle responsibilities, motivate each other and so on. In the end, so what you will have to share the fruit of success, at least your startup will have a balanced support which will prevent it from drowning in the future.

Take for example the Mistay Founder Pranav Prabhakar who believes that, “Multiple founders with complementary skills bring in wider perspective to the team. While taking key decisions and at high-pressure situations, it’s always preferable to have someone who can provide support and an alternative perspective,” and hence has Sandeep Jaiswal as the co-founder of Mistay.

According to Sandeep, ‘A co-founder makes it easy to navigate through tough times. A partner with complimenting skill-sets and different style of thinking is important to help avoid mistakes one would otherwise make, he stressed. So having a co-founder is like an extra support for your startup.

“The value of an idea lies in the using of it.” – Thomas Edison, General Electric Co-founder

2. Get a website/app or both

If you are thinking an investment into web/app is a big waste of money, then hello, it’s 2018 and today from kids to oldies, everyone is constantly browsing either on a desktop/laptop or on mobile. Your potential customers, clients and investors are out there on all platforms and to make them learn about your startup, you must have a website or app of yours ready.

If you are still worried about the budget, for starters, host your site on WordPress which is the most popular CMS of the planet. Its versatility and possibilities are endless which you can take benefit of or go for professional pre-made website templates that easily available at affordable prices.

3. Let people know

Branding and marketing both are lifelines for a business and just because you are a startup doesn’t mean you can survive without them. Branding means establishing a professional presence in both online and offline medium. Make your company logo, colour and other identities visible everywhere as much as possible. Give your clients pens, diaries or other stationary items with your company logo, this will remind them of your great service.

Also, spend rightly on marketing even if you are running a single campaign, make it an effective one that creates an impact on the people. Don’t forget to check whether the market is right for your product/service. Marketing at the right time only will prove beneficial. For eg., marketing your summer clothes brand during winter is useless.

4. Deliver what you promised

Sticking with your word creates your professional image and even a slight slip in it will bring down your startup empire. Nothing is more irritating than a business failing to deliver what it promised. Don’t brag about anything it will only lose your potential customers, stain your reputation and in a worse scenario, get you in legal troubles. First, deliver what you told them you can gradually add and inform them if you wish to serve more. Until and unless, as a startup, don’t try to go overboard and create a mess of everything.

“Always deliver more than expected.” – Larry Page, Google Co-Founder

Turning an idea from concept to production is no cakewalk. The eagerness to establish into a giant is understandable, but, why take unnecessary big risks and crash in the end? Better study the market first, define what new you are giving, plan at its best, execute smartly and enjoy the rewards.

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Don’t Let The New Person Have Lunch By Themselves.

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I joined a new company two weeks ago. I’ve been the new person at work many times before — I know what it feels like. A new workplace is scary, overwhelming and challenging.

What I’m about to share with you makes me incredibly emotional and it’s very close to my heart.

During the week I saw someone else, who was also new, having lunch by themselves.

They walked through the big grey door by themselves, took one look over at all the tables, and then headed towards a table in the corner away from everybody. My heart sunk.

I knew what he was going through and it wasn’t easy. Right as he walked through the door, I was in the middle of a conversation.

Mid-sentence, I said:
“Excuse me for just a second. I’ll be right back.”

People sitting on my table looked at me funny. They knew I was odd and did weird stuff. They were trying to figure out what I was about to do in their own minds.

I’ve always been told that leadership is not about being the boss but setting the right example

I walked over to the other side of the lunchroom. I said:

“Would you like to come over and have lunch with us?”

I wanted him to feel part of the team. The first couple of weeks in any career are make or break — I should know given my recent exit from finance after seven years.


I know what it’s like to be the new person.

I was the new person in insurance.
Then I was the new person in business banking.
Then I was the new person in eCommerce.

Each time I was the new person I felt scared, incredibly fearful, overwhelmed, anxious and self-conscious. Not much has changed really. I still feel like that which is why I’m obsessed with being part of the solution.

The solution is this:

“Don’t let the new person have lunch by themselves.”

Taking the time to make people feel included and like they matter makes a difference. You could be the difference between a new person staying and having an epic time at work, or giving up in the first few months.


The difference is even bigger than you think.

What do I mean? If being the new person doesn’t go well, it can lead to many issues that you may not have realized. The new person could become lonely; the new person could underachieve and be fired; the new person could struggle to make friends.

These issues could lead to a failed career or not being able to pay bills or even mental illness.

As a worst case scenario, these issues could even lead to suicide. The difference of helping that one person to have lunch with the team could be far greater than you realize.


Inclusion is how we cure loneliness.

Loneliness is why we have social media, dating apps and cafes.

No one wants to be that person having lunch by themselves because they feel like they’re not enough or can’t fit in.

The cure to loneliness is inclusion”

You can be the difference by encouraging inclusion.

Be the leader and set the example of inclusion.

Embrace differences in culture, gender, sexual orientation and race.

Stopping someone from having lunch by themselves will teach you far more about life that you might think. Bottom line is this: we’re all the answer. Be inclusive.


One sentence can change everything.

That one sentence “Hey would you like to join us for lunch?” means more than you think. You were the new person once. I was the new person too.

That one sentence can change someone’s perspective.

It’s not about lunch buddies; it’s about leading with heart and being a good human being.

It’s what you must do. Next time you see someone having lunch by themselves, invite them over. If they are too shy to come over, sit down with them and have lunch together.

It’s the simple hacks like this that will change your reality.

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6 Important Strategies That Will Help You Grow a Successful Startup

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Congratulations – you’re here because you have a bright idea. The kind that prompts you to, pause in amazement to ask yourself why nobody ever thought of this before, tidy your desk, and start searching for advice on how to turn your brainwave into a profitable business. But where should you really begin?

Building a business is one of the greatest journeys you can embark upon. You can’t expect success overnight. Behind the meteoric rise of each ‘Uber for this’ and ‘Airbnb for that’, there are rivers of sweat, oceans of tears and months of lost sleep.

The foundation of a viable business is to identify a problem and provide a good solution – or a better one than your would-be customers can currently find. You should begin by thinking through your business plan and doing your market research. Be prepared to make changes to the product and to redefine your target market in response to your findings.

Your next step is to get the infrastructure of success in place. Become an expert by studying up on specialist sector information. Get get a professional-looking website, clean up your social media, contribute to relevant discussions online and in person: you should be seen as an authority.

Select the platforms you’ll use to market your product – does it need a video demonstration, or are you the author and sage behind the next hit eBook? Then, get to grips with Google. You’ll need to produce regular, relevant content for your site to rank highly, and understand how paid ads work in order to run campaigns or instruct an agency.

Think this summary sounds simple enough? You already know the roadmap to business stardom will be peppered with potholes. Here are six tips to prepare:

1. Get to work

Success is directly proportional to the effort you put in. You’ll be competing for funding and customers with many other companies. Most will have more capital and manpower than your business might see for another decade. If you want to get on level footing, the only way is to grind. Use size to your advantage.

There’s no middle-management or bureaucracy to prevent you from experimenting with new tactics or tailoring services to a particular client’s requirements. Bonus tip? Don’t quit your day job right away. It’s incredible how much time you can free up on evenings and weekends by reducing your Netflix consumption.

“A business has to be involving, it has to be fun, and it has to exercise your creative instincts.” – Richard Branson

2. Network, network, network

Mingling, schmoozing, hobnobbing – it doesn’t come naturally to everyone. Maybe it seems pointless, or pushes you out of your comfort zone at first, but networking is an extremely  valuable use of your time. Polish your LinkedIn presence, go to business networking events, reach out to people you could learn from. Join discussion forums and contribute to them.

You could even consider applying to startup incubator programs such as TechStars, which offer a curated programme of introductions to both mentors and investors. You can’t predict when one of these contacts will offer a helping hand, but relationship building is key to securing support in your hour of need.

3. Tighten the purse strings

Startups don’t secure their founders a steady stream of income. There will be weeks when you’re flush, and months when your dreams of entrepreneurial success are eclipsed by dreams of a dinner that isn’t ramen. Without the privilege of a reliable income, life is easier to navigate when you’re equipped with budgeting smarts and a steely will. Get used to living within your means. Your salary cut will ultimately translate into a runway extension for your startup.

4. The customer is (still) king

Your brilliance and expertise can’t fund your startup by themselves! Customers put food on your table and sustain the viability of your business. Listen to what they want from you. Be prepared to tailor your offering to their needs. If you get an opportunity to deliver results for someone – seize it. You can offer them a perk no big business can match: flexibility.

5. Shortcuts leave you short-changed

If a job is worth doing, it’s worth doing right first time. Don’t give investors a chance to pick holes in your business proposition by spending time and money on work that needs to be re-done. Website bugs or a ‘content farm’ blog can damage the functionality of your business as well as your reputation.

Sure, you’ll get to the stage where your business is ready for a re-brand or an experienced hire brings in the knowledge to optimise your content, but there’s a difference between being keen to improve versus tolerating shoddy work. Get the best you can buy at every stage of growth.

“Don’t start a company unless it’s an obsession and something you love. If you have an exit strategy, it’s not an obsession.” – Mark Cuban

6. Know your ‘why’

When the going gets tough, the tough get going. But how can you cultivate this toughness? In the early stages, you may not have a co-founder or employee to share the struggle. There will be no team to carry you through phases of crippling doubt. Whether you need to adjust the feng shui of your home office, admit that breaks are crucial to your wellbeing or build opportunities to socialise with likeminded individuals into your schedule, take time to work out the foundations of your mental fortitude.

Understand your ‘why’ – the reason behind your passion that gives you a true sense of purpose. Then, work to cultivate a balance. You can’t do everything, but you can make time for family, exercise, and the little things that save your sanity. The ability to self-motivate will serve you in every area of life, whether business is your vocation or not.

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No One Would Hire Me — Nothing Lasts Forever, Though.

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In 2011, I was down and out. I was defeated and felt like I’d never amount to anything.

This story is going to inspire you if you’ve ever faced a similar situation or felt defeated.

I’d finished working at the startup I founded with my brother and things didn’t look good. I had a dream at that time to utilize my digital marketing skills and work for an advertising agency where I could grow my skills.

Every job I applied for I was turned down.

Even though I’d had digital marketing experience and built a multi-million dollar business using that talent, it wasn’t formal learning or advertising agency experience.

So, I ended up taking a job in finance which I also knew nothing about. I took a junior role and a large pay cut and started my career at a bank. For seven years, on the side, I worked on my passion for social media and online marketing.

Two days ago, I was hired to run the digital marketing team for a well-known tech company with 900 staff. Against all the odds, I won the long game.

Here’s what you can learn:


No one can stop you.

Even with all the no’s and people that laughed at me in 2011, I didn’t stop.

I went into hiding for a while and built my skills. I started with blogging, then SEO, then pay per click and eventually landed in social media.

Just because someone won’t hire you today based on your skills, attitude and experience, doesn’t mean they won’t tomorrow.

In fact, without sounding cocky, people now have been bending over backwards to hire me as a consultant to help them with social media and digital marketing.

“The same people that said no to me now want to work with me”

You decide whether you stop based on rejection — nobody else. Keep going no matter the odds.


Be prepared to wait a few years.

Patience was what made the last two days feel incredible. It took seven years to get what I wanted and I had to be damn patient.

The mistake many of you make who are reading this is that you’re not prepared to wait years to get what you want.

When you accept that it takes years to achieve your goals, you work differently. You prepare yourself in a totally different way.

Wanting things too quickly forces you to sacrifice for the short-term and mess up the long-term. Slow down. Relax. You’ve got time.


It’s your attitude that counts.

When no one will hire you, it’s your attitude that counts.

If you walk into an interview or coffee catchup with an attitude problem, then your career dream is going to continue to be a problem.

You see it on those TV talent shows when a guy/girl walks out onto the stage and has been trying for a long time to make it as a musician. They have this sense of entitlement and their bad attitude is written all over their face.

Don’t be one of these people. Fix your attitude.

You’re only entitled to what you earn. Walk into interviews and face opportunities with a sense of humbleness.

Let humbleness be your dominant attitude and eventually you’ll have more opportunities than you could ever hope for.


Nothing lasts forever.

The no’s I got in 2011 lasted a few years.

The point is they didn’t last forever.
Just because you’re getting no’s today and being laughed at, doesn’t mean that will last forever. Nothing lasts forever including you.

“Keep going until the people that said no to you come around and are half-way towards a yes”

No one can deny you forever. People will admire you if you keep going and learn along the way.

Sometimes we can feel like we’ll always be rejected. That’s how I felt in 2011. I thought to myself “I’ve worked five years in digital marketing and built up a pretty successful business and people are still saying no to me. If not now, when?”

Now let me be honest for a second. I didn’t have the intelligence in 2011 to keep going. I was too dumb and too obsessed with myself. It was basically blind faith that kept me going. I wish I’d known back then that nothing lasts forever and believed it.

There were no mentors, advisors or as much self-help advice as there is now to tell me that the way I was thinking was madness.

You have the opportunity to learn from this lesson. Nothing. Lasts. Forever.


Push through.

When every obstacle there is, is standing in your way, sometimes all you need to do is keep pushing.

The way I did this was to keep writing. No one was paying attention to my advice, but that didn’t matter.

The only strategy I had at the time was to keep doing what felt fun to me and I believed I’d figure out the detail later or just never get paid to do what I liked doing.

Pushing through is about continuing to do the work even when the results don’t show.


Eventually, the odds will change if you change.

So what was missing in 2011? Why was I getting rejected even though I had the skills and experience?

I needed to change.

I was an arrogant, selfish, entitled son of a bitch who wouldn’t give a dime out of a dollar to anyone. I had to change myself.

I had to:

  1. Develop empowering beliefs
  2. Change my attitude
  3. Adopt a never say die mindset
  4. Learn abundance
  5. Give more to strangers
  6. Create value for people first via the internet
  7. Be grateful for what I have instead of always wanting more

Your odds of success won’t change until you change.

“You’re the problem and that’s the hardest advice to swallow”


Final thought.

It’s been a big few days. I’ve waited seven years to get what I want. The hardest thing about getting what you want is that it will feel good for a few weeks, and then you’ll want more.

That’s the crack addiction that comes with personal development.

I’m trying to detox from this addiction and be happy with what I’ve achieved to date.

Maybe no one will hire you today.

Maybe your life sucks right now.

Maybe you’ve dealt with a lot this year.

It’s all okay. Your odds of success will change when you change.

<<<>>>

If you want to increase your productivity and learn some more valuable life hacks, then join my private mailing list on timdenning.net

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