3 ingredients of a strong startup

Many factors go into creating a strong and successful startup, especially in the early stages. You can benefit from ingredients like a detailed business plan, marketing and social media plans, and a defined customer base. But there are three components that every new business must leverage to create and maintain success beyond a working business model, social media accounts, and potential customers.

  1. Talented people

  2. Many entrepreneurs say people are their greatest asset, and you should plan to make them a top priority. Perhaps when you think of particularly important people at your organization, you picture your cofounder or other team members, whether they’re freelance or full time. No matter what position these people hold, your company will find success based on the talent, knowledge, and skill sets that these folks possess.

    To turn your startup into a flourishing small business, identify the talent you need in order to fill existing gaps and select candidates who are passionate about your business idea. Some industries and business segments have become highly competitive, recruiting from small pools of talent. Other industries may have a much larger pool to pick from.

    Ask your social network, interact with people at conferences, and explore online marketplaces to find the right people for your organization. Consider letting folks work remotely if you like what they have to offer. They may even work in a region with a lower cost of living, which could mean you don’t have to pay them as much.

    If a candidate accepts your offer, don’t neglect or ignore them once they start work, no matter how busy you are building the company. Keep the lines of communication open, regularly share what’s happening in the startup business, and give them plenty of interesting and challenging projects. As you build the company, make sure they know how much of its success comes from their enthusiasm, ideas, and hard work.

  3. Company culture

  4. Company culture is just as important in tech companies as it is in manufacturing firms or retail operations. That’s because startup culture is often what attracts talent. It’s also what gives people a reason to come to work. As a motivator, company culture also shows people what you think is important and shapes how everyone should act, work, and treat each other.

    Even those outside your company may be interested in hearing about your culture because it reflects your values and how you see others. For example, if you market yourself as a socially responsible company, an environmentally friendly firm, or a place that embraces continuous learning, your audience will want to see those values enacted as part of your company culture.

    It may seem difficult at first to push team-building when there are just three or four of you and you’re scattered around the country or globe. However, it’s important to set the precedent for how to work together before forming working and reporting relationships.

    Put what your company culture means in writing and share that with your team, including everyone who comes on board as you build out the business. As a startup founder, you shape the environment through your words and actions. Regularly talk about what the company’s culture means, and plan activities or events that highlight those defining aspects.

  5. Clear strategic vision

  6. A successful business starts with a picture the founder creates. The founder sees what they want to solve or do and how they can get there. This same vision can also direct, influence, and inspire others, from angel investors and VCs to employees, new customers, and the media. These people need to see your purpose and direction as a startup business.

    When you plan for the future, everyone with a role in it must have a sense of what it will look and feel like. This picture provides an anchor no matter how good or bad the business does going forward.

    If you need to make a change, it’s the vision that guides the pivot. And your clear strategic vision will guide the type of decisions you make — what you invest in, the product or service you create, and how much time and/or money you spend on it.

    Again, write it down, explain it, and regularly reference the vision in much of what you do. When sharing plans for the next quarter or year, emphasize your vision and show how these actions and financial targets align with it.

    When you write your vision down to share with your team, show what you think your successful business will look like in three, five, and 10 years. Include that sense of company culture and key values in the vision statement while remaining focused on your strategic intent.

    Despite the fact that your vision illustrates what the future looks like, write it in the present tense so everyone feels they need to act on it now. In addition, keep the language simple and straightforward so everyone can understand and embrace it.

A journalist and digital consultant, John Boitnott has worked for TV, newspapers, radio, and Internet companies for 25 years. He’s written for Inc.com, Fast Company, NBC, Entrepreneur, USA Today, and Business Insider, among others.

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