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7 Essential Beliefs All Startup Founders Should Have

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Being a successful startup founder requires you to have a distinct set of beliefs to be able to create your dream and turn it into a reality.

Many founders are not aware that your beliefs are not just important for your personal life but also for your startup. Beliefs are the foundation in which your entire business is built upon, and it spreads through your team as your startup grows. It’s for this exact reason you need to get the right from the start, trying to fix them once your business has scaled, is quite difficult.

Below are the seven essential beliefs all startup founders should have.

1. Believe your vision is going to change the world

If you look back through history, all successful entrepreneurs believed at some point that their business would change the world. In order to be truly successful with your startup you must believe this, otherwise you’re more than likely destined to be ordinary like the other 90% of business that fail in the first five years.

If you’re not going out there each and every day to solve a problem that needs solving, in the hope that you will change people’s lives for the better, then why aren’t you? You should be trying to do this, but maybe your startup is not built around your passion, and you built it for the money. I have been there and done that, it doesn’t work.

“Changing the world is the first step, believing you can is the next step and then aligning this with your passion is the last step. If you do those three things, the money will come”

2. Believe anything is possible

There is a high likelihood that whatever your startup is doing exists in some form already. For you to be successful, you need to believe that anything is possible and that even if your idea is 0.1% better, it’s that difference that will attract loyal customers to your business. You don’t have to be 1000 times better; often you don’t even need to be twice as good.

Have a crack; know that any founder can do anything they put their mind too and come from a place of certainty, knowing that your hard work and research will pay off if you believe it will.

3. Believe your team is amazing

Every pitch I have ever seen take place in front of a venture capital firm has involved a large amount of focus on the team. As a founder, your biggest challenge will be people and getting them to work together and have a vision that you all believe in. Worship your team when they do something right, give constructive feedback when they do something that can be improved. Understand that the best teams in the world have a leader that believes they are amazing and a team that agrees with them.

4. Believe in the power of rejection

If I was to say there is one belief that you absolutely must have as an entrepreneur and a founder of a startup, it’s to be able to believe in the power of rejection. You are going to pitch for a lot of deals over the course of your business that you are not going to win. Each time you will be rejected and told that you weren’t good enough, your price wasn’t low enough, you couldn’t deliver fast enough or you haven’t got enough experience. If you believe that each of these reasons makes your startup stronger and gives you a chance to succeed in the future, you will be very successful. The more you can deal with rejection, the more chance you will discover opportunities that other startups in your niche haven’t seen.

I can remember being rejected by a large company out of Europe during our startup phase, and they told me that because we weren’t listed on the stock exchange, we didn’t have the experience needed to deliver on what they wanted. I kept in touch with them, ignored the rejection, and became good friends with them. Two years later I convinced them that the company they had chosen, who were listed on the stock exchange, couldn’t deliver what we could. I showed them some examples of mystery shopping we had done and the research we had found about their target market. The tailored solution and persistence eventually won us the contract, and the negotiation was 100% in our favour. Bottom line, don’t accept rejection and play the long game for larger revenue opportunities.

As your startup starts to experience success, naysayers are going to pop out from everywhere. The more success you have, the more they will pop up. You must believe that the rejection they bring is useful and that some people will always find a way to say negative things about your startup.

5. Believe in thinking differently

The tag line for Apple’s most famous marketing campaign is also a belief that will ensure your startups success. Your ability to think differently and solve a specific problem differently to your competitors will be your startups make or break. Anyone can copy your idea, will they have the passion and the different thinking skills required to beat you? Probably not.

Thinking different once won’t help you win, you have to think consistently different for the benefit of your customer. A word of warning though, don’t be one of those new age cool cats that thinks different just for the sake of it and not because the business problem requires it.

When I was working in a very competitive industry with our startup, a lot of my prospects would get up to ten quotes from the market before coming to me. I would often find that each of the ten quotes were very similar, which is why it usually came down to the price. I went out of my way to find something that was nothing like what anyone else had presented, even making my proposal email quirky. I would usually win a lot of the time because people often just wanted to hear something that was different to the other ten people or at least presented differently. Sometimes it was just my personality that was different, but sometimes that alone, can be enough.

6. Believe in selling dreams

A game-changing belief that I learnt in my early startup days was when a sales person said to me “Tim you just sell dreams, it’s up to your customer to follow the plan you have set out for them and make it a reality.” Don’t misunderstand this one, I am not saying you just sell a dream and then who the hell cares what happens. You must sell the dream truthfully and respectfully to your prospective client always.

When I understood this belief, I realised that all the stress I was putting on myself for my clients to get 100% of the benefit I promised them was near impossible. Unless I am with them 24 hours a day, I can never be sure that they will use the product the way it was intended to. If you lay out the plan, give them all the tools and then your customer says it doesn’t work, help them to make some tweaks. If they still can’t get the results that you promised them and they are doing everything exactly as you told it to them, give their money back. If they are only following part of the plan, then there is only so much you can do so stop stressing yourself.

7. Believe in your naivety

One of the best things I ever did in my startup career was to believe in my naivety. I would often enter a new marketplace being completely naïve to its nuances. This by default would mean that I would approach and believe things that my competitors would not. People would constantly tell me that my ideas wouldn’t work or that customers would want something. I would usually prove them wrong (although not always, I am not god) because I just didn’t know any better, and I think that was my number one success factor.

It’s very easy to have people’s opinions cloud your idea or convince you that something won’t work. When you learnt to walk as a baby, you didn’t know that you couldn’t do it, so you just kept trying until you did. Take this same approach to startups, and you will experience success, I promise you.

What beliefs do you think are essential? Do you agree with the beliefs I have outlined above?
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Startups

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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How to pitch investors better

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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How to thrive in the startup market in 2024

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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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. (more…)

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8 Actionable Ways to Get Your Startup’s First 100 Customers

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What’s the one thing that every business wants? Is it money, fame, or endless resources? The answer is quite simple—customers. Having customers is the sure-shot way of ensuring that your business stays afloat in the long run. No matter how good your product or services are, without people buying what you sell, you won’t reach anywhere. However, establishing a customer base is one of the most challenging things a business has to do, especially if you are just starting. (more…)

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